We've heard some recent chatter about the New England Patriots trading up in the 2021 NFL Draft to land an athletic quarterback like Justin Fields or Trey Lance.
But ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. resurfaced a familiar face in his latest NFL Mock Draft.
Kiper has the Patriots staying put at No. 15 to select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, despite re-signing Cam Newton to a one-year contract.
Here's Kiper's rationale for the pick:
"Look at that -- New England doesn't even have to trade up to find its quarterback. Cam Newton is returning for another season, of course, and that was a smart deal to bring back a well-respected guy whom the rest of the locker room loves. But Newton is not likely to be the Patriots' guy past 2021, and Jones could soak up the pro game for a season before taking over as the starter."
Jones, who is working out at Alabama's pro day Monday, generated some early hype as New England's potential quarterback of the future before the team signed Newton.
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound QB put up video-game numbers last season for the Crimson Tide (77.4% completion rate, 4,500 yards, 41 touchdown passes and four interceptions) while leading them to a national championship and had a good meeting with the Patriots at the Senior Bowl in February.
Analysts like Kiper even compared Jones to Tom Brady, which raised some eyebrows. Kiper didn't shy away from that comparison in his new mock draft, though.
"I've gotten in trouble before for saying that a few quarterbacks are 'Tom Brady-like,' but I'm really talking about accurate, tall pocket passers. I'm not predicting that these guys are going to become Hall of Famers," Kiper wrote.
"When I watch Jones, I can see some of the traits that have made Brady so good for so long. Jones is a pinpoint thrower who can manipulate the pocket and find targets down the field. He is a leader in the locker room, too. This is a good fit."
If the Patriots can land Jones at No. 15 without having to trade up and let him learn under Newton for a season before taking the reins in 2022, that's an enticing scenario.
But Jones also has history to contend with: An Alabama quarterback hasn't made the Pro Bowl since Ken Stabler in 1977, as the Crimson Tide have produced more AJ McCarrons than Joe Namaths of late.