By Patrick Donnelly
Featured Image by Michael Reaves / Getty Images
Last year, I pleaded for the Patriots to draft Jalen Hurts, and I still stand by that they should have. This year as the NFL Draft quickly approaches, we’re continuing our installments of picking our ideal quarterback selections for New England.
Ethan started his case for Mills begging the Patriots to steer clear of drafting a quarterback in the first round, and he’s right, unless, that signal caller is Justin Fields. I’m incredibly high on him, and I think he has a great career ahead of them. If a quarterback of that caliber drops to the Pats at No. 15, then take him.
But I don’t think Fields will be there at the fifteenth pick, nor do I think letting all of the season’s hopes rest on the shoulders of a rookie QB is in the Pats’ best interests right now. So, in any case, I have to force myself to be realistic.
Now, let me present to you why the Patriots should draft Kellen Mond, quarterback, Texas A&M.
Like I said, at fifteen, the Pats probably aren’t getting any of the dazzling quarterback prospects. With that said, New England is best served going after a player who can contribute on the defensive side of the ball from Day 1. Linebackers like Micah Parsons out of Penn State or Zaven Collins (Tulsa) come to mind if they are available.
With Cam Newton’s performance incentive-heavy contract, it’s clear Bill Belichick feels Newton can do a capable job, especially with an extremely revamped supporting cast. So, that could mean the Patriots may not be as in on the quarterback market as it may have seemed at the start of the offseason, and it also leaves the door open to fill other areas of need in the first round.
Like Ethan said, the first round QB is instantly labeled the savior of the franchise no matter what, whether rightly or wrongly, simply because of the pure allure of being a high draft pick, even if said player is projected as a developmental guy in a later round. The noise would be loudest in New England, where the sky is falling after Tom Brady won a Super Bowl with a super team after leaving the Pats.
Because of that, the Patriots should target a quarterback who does not need to be anointed the Second Coming simply for being a successor to TB12, someone who can develop into a long-term NFL starter without being under the microscope.
This brings me to Mond, who is projected to go anywhere from the second to fourth round, depending on which mock draft or analyst you listen to. The former Aggies QB has seen his draft stock skyrocket over the last few months after a strong senior season at A&M.
In a semi-shortened, 10-game season in 2020, Mond threw for 2,282 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions, completing a career-high 63.3 percent of his passes. On the ground he notched four touchdowns and 294 yards on 74 carries, averaging four yards per rush. Mond helped lead the Aggies to a 9-1 record an capped off the season by being named MVP of the 2021 Senior Bowl.
In 13 games as a junior, the San Antonio, TX, native registered a career-high 2,897 yards through the air. a career-high 20 TD’s to nine picks, completing 61.6 percent of his attempts. He ran the ball 126 times, rushing for 500 yards and eight touchdowns, both career-bests, while also averaging four yards per carry.
However, Mond would have smashed the personal passing milestones he put up as a junior had he played a full slate of games as a senior. On a 13-game pace last season, the 6-foot-3, 211-pound QB would have thrown for approximately 2,967 yards, 25 touchdowns and just four picks. All would have been career-bests.
Mond finishes his time as A&M’s all-time leader in starts (44), total offense (11,270 yards), passing yards (9,661), passing touchdowns (71), completions (801) and attempts (1,358). He also joined Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott as the only SEC quarterbacks to record over 9,000 career passing yards with 1,500 rushing yards.
I know what you might be saying. Sure, anyone can put up great numbers in college, but what makes Kellen Mond so talented?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Mond is a gifted dual-threat quarterback, who brings a superb combination of arm strength, mechanics and mobility to the table. He can drive the ball to every inch of the field with mesmerizing deep throws, and can still throw the ball well when on the move, whether to his left or right, when off-balance, or retreating. Mond also stands strong in the pocket and is not rattled by swipes from the rush.
On top of his arm talent, Mond is dangerous on the ground, something that is a must for the modern-day quarterback. He’s quick on his feet and insanely athletic, with long strides that allow him to create space for himself quickly. His athleticism allows him to find running lanes, make plays on his feet and either gain decent yardage or find the end zone, sometimes making something out of nothing on the ground.
He’s got the tools to be an NFL starter, between his arm, his legs and his size. His rushing talent make him a threat in short-yardage situations, especially at the goal-line, and he has given teams fits in read-option plays.
Above all, he thrived in a pro-style offense under head coach Jimbo Fisher. Mond apparently has strong intangibles, and he has been on an upward trajectory with his development, showing great growth and improvement between his junior and senior years.
Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms has been on the mound for Mond lately, too, ranking Mond ahead of Fields and Trey Lance. He explained in a radio hit with 106.7 The Fan in Washington that Mond’s combination of mechanics and arm talent put him ahead of the other two prized prospects.
“To me, some of the issues he has, which is really, ‘OK, he doesn’t play enough backyard football and maybe he wasn’t aggressive enough two years ago with some of his decision-making,’” Simms said. “Those are easy fixes as compared to some of the issues that I look at with Justin Fields and Trey Lance.”
Simms always has whacky takes on QB’s, but he’s also been surprisingly accurate over the years. Either way, Lance and Fields look like great talents, so take this for what you will.
Where Mond Needs to Mend
Although Mond is physically gifted, there are questions in regards to his decision-making, as Simms alluded to, as well as his consistency and accuracy.
He can throw perfect passes, but can also send the ball sailing off the mark, and can sometimes fail to layer his throws between coverage. Even though he is a mobile quarterback, Mond’s footwork still needs improvement, which is an area that leads him to be inaccurate with his passes.
In terms of consistency, he can be a streaky, hot-and-cold player at times too. He’s also much better at home (47-11 TD-INT ratio) compared to the road (24-16 TD-INT). Although unfazed by swipes from the pass rush, he needs work on identifying the blitz before the snap.
When it comes to his decision-making, one of the knocks agains Mond is he sometimes has a tendency to lock in on one target and pre-determine his throws. He improved his vision as a senior, but still can be inefficient in his reads.
He does a nice job of scrambling to evade pressure and create plays when his offensive line breaks down in front of him, but rushing can often be a last resort for him. He has great mobility, he needs to work on his strength to break tackles as well as his agility and footwork to make defenders miss him when he breaks free.
Mond is poised and has a calm, cool demeanor, and he can handle hard coaching, making him a great fit under someone like Belichick.
As far as style of play goes, when they signed Newton, Belichick and the Pats broke the mold of what Brady and Drew Bledsoe portrayed as the model New England quarterback. At their best, Newton and Mond represent today’s ideal QB, someone with tremendous arm talent, who can also provide offense on the ground.
Mond isn’t going to be the Week 1 starter, barring any shocking developments, but what he will be is someone who can come in, learn the system under Belichick and McDaniels and study under Newton, who may not be what he used to be in terms of physical greatness on the field, but he still represents the modern mold for a quarterback, has a great attitude and loads of experience to share with Mond.
The Pats are fielding a competitive roster this year, if that wasn’t painfully obvious by their free agency moves. Bringing back Newton shows two things: what they think of Jarret Stidham, and that they’d rather leave the position with a veteran who should be able to provide you with capable, solid football if he is healthy.
So, New England can go draft some defensive, or even offensive skill in the first round that can help the team right now. After that, they can scoop up Mond on Day 2 of the draft, and he can hone his skills away from the spotlight, and develop into a viable solution as a starting quarterback.