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Mel Kiper Jr. Thinks 1 Team "Has" To Move Up In 2021 Draft

Mel Kiper gives NFL Draft analysis on ESPN.

ESPN.

For the first time in over 20 years, the New England Patriots entered their 2020 season with some quarterback uncertainty. Now heading into 2021, that uncertainty persists.

Prior to this past season, the Pats front office signed declining former MVP Cam Newton to a one-year test-it deal. Despite a down year in his debut season with the franchise, Newton will be returning to New England for another year in 2021.

That being said, the former Panthers QB is by no means the guaranteed starter. The Patriots are no doubt looking to find a talented up-and-coming option in this year's stacked quarterback draft class.

But with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, finding a viable starting this late in the first round may be a challenge.

For that reason, ESPN veteran draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes the Patriots need to trade up in order to find their next guy at quarterback. Joining an NFL Network special, Kiper explained his reasoning.

Now more than ever, you need a great quarterback in order to succeed.

“They absolutely have to make the move up,” Kiper said to NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “This isn't the Tom Brady era. Tom Brady is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer winning the Super Bowl. You have to get that quarterback, close that gap. DJ talked about Josh Allen’s emergence as a superstar in this league. Tua in Miami and (soon to be) Zach Wilson with the New York Jets. You gotta get out of that cellar in that quarterback situation. If it's Justin Fields, if he slides, go get him. If it's Trey Lance, go get him. Mac Jones, go get him. Whoever that third quarterback is you have a chance to go up and get. If that third quarterback becomes, say, (Mac) Jones, two of them are gonna land."

With the first three picks of the draft essentially locked in to select a quarterback and the next three set with their current QBs, Kiper believes the best move for the Patriots would be to move up to the Detroit Lions' No. 7 pick.

“You know three are gone, two are probably going to be there if Atlanta passes on one," Kiper siad. "I think DJ, you have to be aggressive. I projected a trade from 15 to seven with the Detroit Lions...if it's Justin Fields, you can go up to seven, or a Trey Lance or a Mac Jones. Figure out which one you love the most and go get him.”

According to reports from ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, the Carolina Panthers have been involved in trade discussions with multiple teams for their No. 8 overall selection. This could be another viable option for Bill Belichick and the New England franchise.

If the Patriots do end up getting their QB man in the draft, we're certainly in for an interesting quarterback battle in 2021.