A lot has changed for the Patriots over the past week regarding their first-round draft positioning, which was trending in a better direction after the Rams beat the Saints on Thursday Night Football. At the time, it looked like they were locking up a top-3 pick, but the results of the slate of games in Week 16 appear to have redirected their fate.
Although New England still has a slight chance to move up to the third pick, they are currently sitting steady with the fourth and will have to rely on a few other teams' wins and losses to determine where they will end up for the draft in April.
Then there's also how they will play over the next two weeks when they take on the Bills and Buffalo and finish the year against the Jets at home. Losing both would give them a better chance at moving back into the top 3, but given they already beat the Bills earlier in the season and nobody loves handing another loss to the Jets than the Patriots, losing out is far from a guarantee despite their record.
Because most mock drafts to this point have favored University of North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye replacing Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe in Foxboro, their slide down to the fourth overall pick has made that a possible impossibility. Maye and Caleb Williams are touted as the top quarterbacks of the class who will be off the board quickly, meaning most assume neither will be available beyond the third pick.
If that's the case, draft analysts have now set their sights on a new quarterback for the Patriots to focus on: Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels out of LSU.
The Draft Wire: QB Jayden Daniels - LSU
The 33rd Team: QB Jayden Daniels - LSU
Sports Illustrated: QB Jayden Daniels - LSU
Pro Football Network: QB Jayden Daniels - LSU
Draft Countdown: QB Jayden Daniels - LSU
Yahoo Sports: QB Jayden Daniels - LSU
The highly accomplished dual-threat quarterback's stock has skyrocketed since the end of the college season. Then throw in winning the Heisman, and he's now considered a top-ten pick. It certainly works in the Patriots' favor, as they need a solid quarterback for next season, but the idea of Daniels in New England does raise some concerns.
His skill set is an unfamiliar territory for Bill Belichick and Co., who recently proved to be failures in adequately developing and utilizing a quarterback with similar traits, Malik Cunningham. The team was also not too great during the 2020 season working with Cam Newton, who is one of the best mobile quarterbacks to ever play in the National Football League.
And let's not forget Belichick's possible biggest mistake in passing on Lamar Jackson in the 2018 draft.
Although Cunningham and Newton are two totally different players, the way they play the game is similar to how Daniels plays, which brings their ability to use a quarterback of his nature within their offense correctly in question.
But with that in mind, it seems like they clearly need to move in a different direction with their signal caller, as Mac Jones appears not to be the guy, and Bailey Zappe hasn't been all that thrilling, either. With the trend of mobile quarterbacks continuing in the NFL, drafting Daniels would indicate that they are finally willing to adapt to today's NFL.
The only problem is you hope that also means bringing in the proper coaches who are experienced in working with and honing their skills the right way.
It shouldn't necessarily be a deterrent from selecting him if he's available and they like what they've seen from him, especially given their position regarding a lack of quarterback. However, the way Cunningham was handled brings a little hesitancy within Patriots Nation to bring in a similar style quarterback because it would be difficult to see another potentially great player be wasted so early in their career.