However the New England Patriots address their need at quarterback this month, Bill Belichick declared his preference for substance over style.
The NFL Draft is loaded with an eclectic group of quarterbacks, and Belichick said Thursday the Patriots aren’t married to a specific trait — pocket passer or someone with more mobility.
The Patriots will first be limited by circumstance. With the 15th pick in the draft, they won’t be getting Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence or BYU’s Zach Wilson. They can only hope North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or Alabama’s Mac Jones falls within an attainable range.
Depending how much the Patriots covet the player, they’ll determine the price they’re willing to pay. That’s a philosophy as old as the draft itself, but don’t think Belichick will prioritize Jones just because he’s an old-school prototype like Tom Brady or Lance and Fields because they fit the new-era trends at the position.
“I think every team has their own style of play, has their own type of offense, so you’re looking for a player who will fit your style, or maybe you want to adapt your style to that player,” Belichick explained. “I think that’s the way it is, really, when you draft almost any player. If you have a player who has a certain skill set that is an impact player on your team, no matter what position he plays, you probably want to try to accommodate and play to his strengths, utilize his skills the best that you can, whatever position that is.
“So honestly, it’s not (about being) that concerned with what the general trends and all that are. It’s really just trying to help our team and trying to find the best methods we can to make our team as competitive as we can, no matter what that entails. There are certainly a lot of chapters in that book, a lot of different ways to do it. Ultimately, I think you want to enhance the skills of your players no matter what position they play.”
Ultimately, it might not even matter in the opening round. It’s not unrealistic to think all five quarterbacks will be off the board in the first five picks if there’s an aggressive trade market. Or, in the hypothetical scenario that one of them is still available at No. 8, the Patriots could very well like the player but not with enough conviction to trade away a couple of first-round picks to move up the board.
That could force the Patriots to shift their attention to Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond and Stanford’s Davis Mills in the second or third rounds. Mond is a rocket-armed quarterback with very good running ability who needs to refine his mechanics to improve his accuracy. Mills has better accuracy with some mobility but made only 11 collegiate starts, and the inexperience shows.