Five Patriots & NFL Things to Know 4/7
Some news and notes on this Wednesday:
1) With the Patriots still mulling their options at quarterback, the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride took a look at one player on Tuesday who might be on New England’s draft radar.
Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond is expected to be a day two prospect and could be someone the Patriots may consider depending on how the chips fall. Mond had a solid collegiate career and grew as a player, including finishing with an efficient year as a senior after throwing for 19 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions.
A lot of that credit can be attributed to head coach Jimbo Fisher, who made a star out of Jameis Winston at Florida State. Fisher was tough on Winston, preaching ball security and it paid off as Winston finished with 40 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions during his first season at FSU in 2013. He also led them to a National Championship that year, the first for the University since the 1999 season.
The following year saw a dip after Winston threw for 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, but Fisher did about all he could with the embattled QB. The issues that season mostly fell on Winston, as it was mired by distractions of his own doing, with the quarterback dealing with sexual assault allegations (which he eventually settled) and his infamous crab legs shoplifting episode.
Following Winston’s departure, Fisher would later move on to a new challenge with the Aggies at Texas A&M and it appears he’s got another player ready to take the next step. Unlike Winston, Mond has gotten better and more efficient each season, improving his completion percentage from 51.5% as a freshman to 63.3% as a senior, with his 3 interceptions also the lowest of his four seasons.
He’s extremely athletic, with Mond rushing for 294-yards and 4 touchdowns last season. He also scored a huge touchdown with his legs against North Carolina during a big win back in January in the Orange Bowl.
Needless to say, he’s come a long way as a player and the work hasn’t stopped. According to McBride, Mond has credited Tom Brady and Drew Brees for a lot of his improvement, admitting he’s spent time watching film and watching their footwork and their awareness in the pocket.
There’s also appears to be a connection with the Patriots, with McBride also reporting that Mond met with the team at the Senior Bowl and he’s apparently kept in touch with them this offseason, occasionally even exchanging texts with offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels.
Whether or not that means he’ll end up a Patriot remains to be seen. But it doesn’t change the fact he seems like he has a bright future ahead of him. Our own Steve Balestrieri took a closer look at Mond previously and believes he’s a developmental type of player who could work out here.
In the meantime, Mond has already been tested and he’s beaten some good competition. A dramatic 41-38 win over Florida last October left Fisher with high praise for a player he likely knew would be headed to the NFL.
“It shows you what you’re capable of,” Fisher said at the time. “Now what I want to see is what you follow up with.”
He’ll find out soon enough.
2) Recent discussion has obviously centered around the Patriots potentially exploring later round QB options if they don’t land their top choice, which it’s starting to appear might be the case.
With the 49ers’ move up the board, the rumors out in San Francisco appear to be favoring the club targeting Mac Jones, who had seemed to be who New England may have had their eye on. If that was the case and it plays out with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan snatching up Jones, it will be interesting to see how that changes the Patriots draft plans.
It’s going to be tough. Whether it’s Mond or someone like Kyle Trask, both of the two players will have a difficult road ahead. In a previous look at late-round quarterbacks, from 2016-2018, 27 quarterbacks were selected after round one, with Dallas’ Dak Prescott having turned out to be the lone standout quarterback. So far, the rest have just been backups or simply forgotten. Since it typically takes a few seasons to find out what a club has in a player, that’s the reason I only looked at just those three seasons since the ones in 2019 and 2020 are still guys the verdict remains out on.
That being said, the Patriots have obviously been the anomaly before when it comes to late-round quarterbacks given their past success with a previous sixth-round pick. So, hey, you never know.
3) Meanwhile, Colin Cowherd recently did his own mock draft and he sees things working out in the Patriots’ favor.
He believes that the 49ers won’t draft Jones and will instead take Justin Fields.
“I don’t buy the Mac Jones stuff,” said Cowherd. “I’ve been told John Lynch would not draft Mac Jones. Kyle Shanahan wants a safe pocket [passer] Kirk Cousins kind of guy, but Kyle Shanahan doesn’t have a winning record, he doesn’t have as much leverage as everybody thinks. I think they go and get Justin Fields.”
That move allows Jones to fall down to the Patriots.
“This feels like New England going out and getting Mac Jones, who can play behind, for a year, Cam Newton,” Cowherd said. “Josh McDaniels has had great success with the last and current best pocket quarterback, Tom Brady. That’s the offense they’re comfortable with. They went and got tight ends and receivers, so there are some legitimate targets. Also, New England’s O-Line is always top 5-to-6 in the league. Mac Jones, like Alabama, will be protected so that one feels like to me, New England sits around, Mac Jones drops a little, and ends up going to New England.”
It’s tough to say if Lynch would overrule Shanahan in that situation given what’s at stake, but stranger things have certainly happened.
4) Following the trade of Sam Darnold, that move appears to have scared off anyone from bothering to call the Jets about trading up to the #2 slot ahead of San Francisco.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the phone isn’t ringing as teams don’t expect the Jets to miss their chance to get their guy.
Draft tidbit: The #Jets have received few phone calls and very little interest for the No. 2 overall selection, source said. Perhaps everyone believes they’ll just stick and pick. But interesting compared to the bounty No. 3 brought the #Dolphins.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 7, 2021
While the Jets could likely fetch quite a return in moving that pick, what’s transpired in recent years in the AFC East obviously has them looking to try and take back some momentum themselves. One can only hope that history repeats itself and they still find a way to mess it up.
5) Meanwhile, we’ll leave you with this.
Give the Panthers credit. They figured out a way to make Darnold look like a star and are already playing him up down in Carolina.
How ‘bout this?! pic.twitter.com/e8uVPsCSy9
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) April 7, 2021
Watching Darnold run over Cleveland Browns linebacker Malcolm Smith was probably one of the bigger highlights of the video, but it’s still funny to see how it’s playing out down there.
The Charlotte Observer’s Scott Fowler called it a trade that “is so weird that it will actually work“.
Pathers GM Scott Fitterer said in the article that he believes it’s a gamble that he feels will be worth it.
“I still think he’s highly competitive,” said Fitterer. “I think he’s smart enough. I like the skill set. He’s only 23 years old. You know a lot of these quarterbacks don’t mature and hit their prime until 24, 25, 26. So if this is a player that we can hit on at this price, and if he is our quarterback for the future, it’s definitely worth the gamble.”
But the biggest thing that Fowler points out is it cost them little and now allows them the chance to address other areas.
Even if Darnold is just serviceable, making this move now also frees the Panthers to bolster their O-line, D-line and cornerback in the first three rounds of the 2021 draft. They weren’t going to get the quarterback they wanted at No. 8. This was a decent alternative, with the potential for being a lot more than that.
Importantly, there were no first-round draft picks involved in the trade, nor much of anything in the 2021 draft, nor any key Panther players. Carolina gave up a sixth-round pick in 2021 and a second- and fourth-round pick in 2022 to get the deal done.
So it appears they’re happy to have him. I think most Patriots fans don’t dislike Darnold and wish him the best. And as long as the Jets continue their losing ways and Darnold goes on to thrive in the NFC, even better.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Carolina Panthers Colin Cowherd Dak Prescott Jameis Winston Jimbo Fisher John Lynch Justin Fields Kellen Mond Kyle Shanahan Mac Jones New England Patriots NY Jets Sam Darnold San Francisco 49ers Texas A&M