BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots made a gigantic splash in free agency (or half a dozen of them), and the focus will soon shift to the NFL Draft. Bill Belichick will have 10 picks at his disposal when things kick off on April 29.

The big question on everyone’s mind is if Belichick will be drafting New England’s quarterback of the future this time around. And as we round up what the mock drafters think the Patriots will be doing when picks start flying off the board, there’s one QB who keeps popping up when it’s New England’s turn at No. 15. And in one instance, a little earler.

Of course with Belichick at the helm, there are a few defensive players being mocked at New England’s first pick, and even an offensive lineman. So check out whom the “experts” predict will become the top of New England’s rookie class in 2021.

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN (Insider Content)

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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.

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. 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.

Jeff Howe, The Athletic (Subscription)

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

First, I tried desperately to trade into the top five. The Jets wanted nothing to do with me. The Broncos then outbid me for the Dolphins’ pick at No. 3, causing me to regret not offering an additional second-rounder. And then I had a deal in place with the Bengals at No. 5, but the top four quarterbacks were gone. At No. 15, I was hoping to trade down but got no offers. I’m beginning to develop a complex over here. Anyway, I couldn’t let Parsons slide because he’s got the ability to be a generational player if he maximizes his potential. He can rotate with the Patriots’ veteran linebacker corps before becoming a starter in 2022. But I strongly considered Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw, Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins and Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau. If the Patriots can’t move up for a quarterback, there’s still plenty of talent on the board to improve their team.

Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

(In this mock, the Patriots trade up with the Broncos to the No. 9 pick to draft Jones)

Did I mention that I don’t think the quarterbacks will last long? The only way the Patriots’ free-agency spending spree works out long term is if they don’t have to spend big money on a quarterback. They are now in quite the predicament: If Cam Newton plays too well, they suddenly can’t keep their roster together with what his price tag will be. That means they will likely be in the market in a deep quarterback class because they obviously don’t plan on picking anywhere near the top 10 in 2022.

Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

The explosive linebacker is arguably the best defender in the draft, offering a versatile game that makes him a perfect fit in Bill Belichick’s scheme.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Bill Belichick knows he needs a quarterback of the future, and Jones may fit the profile of what he’s looking for in an accurate, heady signal-caller.

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

Alijah Vera-Tucker (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

It feels like the Patriots filled every last one of their needs in free agency so we have them bolstering their offensive line with Vera-Tucker, who is one of the most versatile O-linemen in this class; he can play guard or tackle at a high level, providing New England with versatility across the unit.

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Patrick Surtain II (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Belichick is more than happy to end Surtain’s fall, especially because of his experience in press-man coverage at Alabama.

Tom Fornelli, CBS Sports

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Everything the Patriots have done in free agency this offseason suggests that they’re not looking to build for the future. They’re in win-now mode, and Owusu-Koromoah is the kind of defender Bill Belichick has always liked. And he’s someone who can step in on day one and help the defense.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami

Gregory Rousseau (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Rousseau was considered a potential top-five pick last spring, but he opted out in 2020. The Patriots have a big-time need in terms of pass-rush help. Rousseau is big and has speed off the edge.

Luke Easternling, USA Today

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

WalterFootball.com

 Zaven Collins, DE/OLB, Tulsa

Zaven Collins (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

With the top four quarterbacks off the board, the Patriots should wait until Day 2 to find a new signal-caller and obtain help on their defensive line in the meantime.

Zaven Collins seems built for the Patriots. He’s extremely versatile – he can rush on the edge or play linebacker in the middle of the field – and could be viewed as a better version of Kyle Van Noy.

CBSBoston.com Staff