Pats select top QB prospect in Todd McShay's new 2021 NFL Mock Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
It's no secret the New England Patriots must find a long-term solution at the quarterback position.
After not having to worry about the quarterback during the 20 years that Tom Brady called Foxboro home, the Patriots offense struggled mightily in the 43-year-old veteran's first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
New England ranked 30th in passing yards per game, 32nd in passing touchdowns and 27th in QB rating during the 2020 regular season. Neither Cam Newton nor Jarrett Stidham impressed enough to earn a long look in the starting role next season.
So, how do the Patriots address their quarterback dilemma? The draft is probably the best place, and with the No. 15 pick in the first round, it's possible that one of the top quarterback prospects -- Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Zach Wilson and Mac Jones -- will be available when New England is on the clock.
In fact, ESPN draft expert Todd McShay has one of these QBs going to the Patriots in his brand new 2021 NFL Mock Draft released Thursday.
It's Ohio State star Justin Fields.
Here's part of McShay's analysis for the selection:
"But what a nice fit Fields makes in New England. The Patriots tied the Giants for the fewest passing touchdowns in the NFL this season with 12, and New England joined the Broncos as the only teams with more interceptions thrown than TDs (14). Cam Newton, who was largely ineffective this season, will turn 32 in May and is set to be a free agent again. Jarrett Stidham doesn't appear to be the guy, either. Tom Brady is no longer walking through that door, and it's a different era for the Patriots' passing offense. Fields would change that, with plenty of zip on his vertical shots and an ability to create when things break down."
Fields has been projected as the No. 2 pick behind Trevor Lawrence in most mock drafts since the start of the current college football season, so it's a little surprising to see him all the way down at No. 15.
The Patriots absolutely should select Fields if he's available. He has completed 73.4 percent of his passes for 1,906 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions in seven games for Ohio State during its COVID-19 pandemic-shortened season. He threw for 3,272 yards with 41 touchdowns and three interceptions in the 2019 campaign.
Patriots fans should get a good look at Fields on Monday night when his Buckeyes play Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, assuming it's played as scheduled.