After last season’s virtual draft, Cleveland is playing host to festivities this year with a handful of potential draft picks present and socially distanced because of COVID-19.
Here’s a pick-by-pick look at how each player New England has selected will fit.
Round 1, No. 15 overall: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
My take: For 21 years, coach Bill Belichick has stressed that two of the most important characteristics he looks for in quarterbacks are accuracy and decision-making. Those are Jones’ strengths, which is why those who have a background in the team’s system — such as former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis — believed he was the perfect fit among this year’s QB prospects. The Patriots now have a chance to get back to a functional passing game that more closely resembled what they executed under former signal-caller Tom Brady.
Why no Fields: For those disappointed that the Patriots didn’t make a more aggressive move for Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, they obviously didn’t have the same conviction about him as a prospect. History will judge if they are correct, as the Chicago Bears jumped them from pick No. 20 to No. 11, and gave up the hefty price of a 2022 first-round pick to do so. It’s hard to imagine the Patriots would have paid that price, and the hunch is Jones was their target anyway (how quickly they turned in the draft card might have tipped that off).
QB room: Jones has a chance to start as a rookie, joining a room that includes Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala. He was deemed among the most pro-ready prospects, with scouts noting how quickly he picked up the offense at the Senior Bowl this year.
What’s next: The Patriots have a second-round pick (46) and third-rounder (96) on Day 2, and then a bevy of picks on Day 3 (three fourth-rounders, a fifth, two sixths and a seventh). Wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback and defensive front seven are top needs.