The New England Patriots have been connected to Justin Fields in rumors this week, to the point where many sportsbooks are bracing for Bill Belichick to trade up Thursday night to select the Ohio State quarterback in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Dan Orlovsky, a former NFL quarterback-turned-analyst, was asked Thursday morning on ESPN’s “Get Up” whether landing Fields would be worth Belichick doing something he’s never done before by trading up in Round 1 for a QB.
“I absolutely believe it is,” Orlovsky said. “I absolutely believe his talent is worth it.”
Orlovsky then added that going to the Patriots also would be in Fields’ best interest, even if the Buckeyes star ending up in Foxboro ultimately stems from falling down the draft board.
“Can we be honest and candid, this would be the best thing that can happen to Justin Fields,” Orlovsky said. “And I know that kids and their families don’t want to hear that. But the opportunity — because you ‘fall a little bit,’ you ‘slip a little bit’ — to go to New England, with that coaching staff and the roster that they have and the talent that they have right now? It’s better to go (No.) 15 to New England than it is to sprint and have somebody like the Bears to trade up to (No.) 4 to take you. I mean, that would be a much better situation.
“Now, it won’t feel like it — because you hear ‘I fell’ or ‘I slipped in the draft all the way to 15.’ But the reality is for these young quarterbacks, it is significantly better to slip a little bit and fall a little bit and go to a healthier place that is going to be able to support your development a little bit more and coach you a lot better.
“For Justin Fields, if I’m sitting there and going, ‘You know what, if the worst thing that happens to me is I slip to 15 and the New England Patriots take me, here I go. That is great news for me as a player.’ “
Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are projected to go No. 1 and No. 2 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, respectively. The San Francisco 49ers plan to nab a quarterback, as well, at No. 3, although it’s unclear whether they’ll draft Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones.
A recent report indicated San Francisco was choosing between Lance and Jones, and sportsbooks are bracing for the Niners to pick Lance. The Atlanta Falcons are a wild card at No. 4, capable of joining the early run on quarterbacks to grab Matt Ryan’s successor, drafting a non-QB or trading back.
It’s nearly impossible to predict what the Patriots will do with the No. 15 overall pick, especially with the Jimmy Garoppolo rumors still circulating as the 49ers prepare to introduce a new quarterback into their organization. But Fields joining New England and learning from Cam Newton would make for a fascinating 2021 season.
And it also might be the best-case scenario for both Fields and the Patriots in the long run.
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