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Mel Kiper's Latest Mock Draft Has Patriots Trading Up & Taking QB Prospect

Could Justin Fields become the next great Patriots quarterback?

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper believes the New England Patriots could address their quarterback situation by selecting one of the top prospects in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.

Kiper's latest two-round mock draft (subscription needed) has the Patriots trading up to the No. 10 spot -- currently held by the Dallas Cowboys -- and selecting former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

Kiper has Fields pegged as the fifth quarterback selected in the top 10, which would be the quickest five passers were drafted since 1999 and, with Dallas having invested in Dak Prescott, not needing a quarterback.

"This makes five quarterbacks in the top 10, with Bill Belichick & Co. making the move up for Fields, my second-ranked quarterback," Kiper wrote. "All the moves the Patriots made in free agency showed me that they believe they can get right back into competing for the AFC East title, but I don't think Cam Newton is the quarterback to get them there. He had too many accuracy issues last season. He's not the long-term answer. Fields had an up-and-down 2020 season, but he can be a star if he becomes more consistent. And I trust that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will get him there."

Former NFL MVP Cam Newton joined the Patriots on a one-year "prove it" deal last season, but struggled before being brought back this offseason.

Newton and the Patriots agreed to a one-year contract "worth up to close to $14 million," with "about $6 million of the deal" being tied to incentives, sources confirmed.

The Patriots have also been reported to be interested in a possible reunion with Jimmy Garoppolo, who was selected by the Patriots in the second-round of the 2014 NFL Draft and spent the majority of his tenure in New England as the backup to former Patriots and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, starting just two games while Brady served a four-game suspension in 2017.

You can read Kiper's full mock draft on ESPN+ with a subscription by clicking here.

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