The 2021 SI Team Publisher Mock Draft this week predicted the Patriots would selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the 15th pick in NFL Draft later this month.
And out of the 11 mock drafts surveyed that had the Pats taking a quarterback, two said Lance would be the guy.
Now you can add another vote for a New England-Lance marriage: former Philadelphia Eagle president and Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner.
“If Pats trade up for Trey Lance we could be looking at another run for BB. That coach with that QB on a rookie contract for five years would be scary for everyone who isn’t a Pats fan.”
That’s high praise for a guy that oversaw the Eagles for nearly two decades, including a trip to the Super Bowl. It’s probably too much to expect “another run” for coach Bill Belichick in the Pats compared to what they did the prior 20 years before this past season. But it is possible the Pats are willing to draft Lance at 15 or even trade up to acquire his rights in their effort to turn things around from their 7-9 season.
Although he wasn’t asked specifically about Lance, who played just one game last season because North Dakota State’s season was postponed from the fall to the spring by the pandemic, Belichick on Thursday expressed a willingness to draft a player -- at quarterback or another position -- that might need time to develop.
Belichick said sometimes a player’s potential upside beyond what he’s shown before the draft can be more valuable than someone that tore it up in college.
“If you see the player’s upside and development and growth,” Belichick said, “and you pay a much higher price for the player than what his production shows because you feel that in time, or experience or different system or whatever the combination of reasons are, that the player will perform above what his production was in college. Could be injury-related, could be, as I said, scheme-related, could be, just the physical development of the player. Those are always things that you talk about.
“You’re obviously betting on … the player’s development vs. what you might actually see from another player, but in some cases the upside might be greater and the downside might be greater, too. But at some point you decide to make that investment and then we all see how the player turns out. But that’s fairly common at every position. There are always players at every spot that fall into that category that you feel like you’re going to have to draft higher than what they’ve done. But if you’re willing to do that and get the player, then you draft him at a higher spot and hope his production eventually reflects the potential that you saw.”
Lance threw for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2019, his lone year as a starting NCAA quarterback.