Patriots select QB in first round of Mel Kiper Jr.'s first 2021 NFL Mock Draft

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Nick Goss
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Patriots select QB in Round 1 of Mel Kiper Jr.'s first 2021 NFL Mock Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots haven't drafted a quarterback in the first round since Drew Bledsoe went No. 1 overall in 1993, and one veteran expert is projecting that drought to end this year.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has released his first 2021 NFL Mock Draft, and at No. 15 in the first round he has the Patriots selecting Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.

Here is Kiper's explanation for the pick:

"Like McShay, I'm thinking quarterback for the Patriots. They don't pick this high often. Why not go and get your guy and build around him? Now, that changes if Bill Belichick & Co. can make a deal to get a veteran quarterback on the trade market or if Jimmy Garoppolo gets cut by the 49ers. But with Cam Newton unlikely to return to New England, Jones could become a signal-caller to groom for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Jones can make every throw at every level of the field, and he's extremely accurate. Plus, we know that Belichick has drafted plenty of Alabama stars and trusts Nick Saban. Jones will be at the Senior Bowl this week, and I'm expecting him to impress. And yes, if you're keeping count, this makes five quarterbacks in the top 15 picks."

Jones had a tremendous 2020 season for Alabama and led them to a College Football Playoff National Championship Game win over Ohio State. He completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns and four interceptions. Those numbers were massive improvements over his 2019 statistics.

Perry: What might it look like if the Pats built around Stafford?

If the Patriots are looking for a short term fix at quarterback, it would make more sense to acquire a veteran such as Lions star Matthew Stafford and build around him. If the Pats are looking long term, then it makes a lot of sense to use this first-round pick on a QB.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, it's probably unlikely that top quarterback prospects Trevor Lawrence (obviously), Justin Fields, Zach Wilson or Trey Lance will be available when they are on the clock in Round 1. However, New England should have 10 picks in the 2021 draft, including projected compensatory selections, so it does have the ammo to move up if needed.

Jones is an intriguing QB prospect and was well-coached by Nick Saban at Alabama. But is he really worth using the No. 15 overall pick to acquire? In a league driven so much by your quarterback's successes and failures, he's probably worth the risk.