By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL world is barreling full speed ahead toward the draft, which means information and misinformation is flying every which way from all angles. When it comes to rumors and reports, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.

Yet it’s generally worthwhile to keep track of it all, and the latest bit of informed speculation comes via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. His latest report suggested that the Patriots are a candidate to trade up from their spot at No. 15 in the upcoming draft in order to take a quarterback.

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Rapoport didn’t concoct a scenario where the Patriots move up into the top five to disrupt the expected draft order there, but instead noted the team may pounce if the fifth first-round quarterback begins to slide a little.

Here’s what Rapoport said:

The other team is the New England Patriots. We know they have Cam Newton as the starter. I do not anticipate that the Patriots are done at the quarterback position. I would expect them to take one at some point in the draft. Could they trade up for whichever fifth quarterback is sliding a little bit? I would say that is something to keep an eye on if a QB gets within striking distance.

While the picks are obviously not yet in, it’s expected that Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence will be drafted first overall to the Jaguars, with BYU’s Zach Wilson going second overall to the Jets, and Alabama’s Mac Jones going third overall to the 49ers. (For now, anyway.) That leaves Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance as the other two QBs expected to go in the first round, and Rapoport’s reporting seemingly indicated that the Patriots might be willing to pay a price to move up if one is available at a certain point.

In terms of forecasting picks, the Cowboys (at No. 10 overall), Giants (No. 11), Eagles (No. 12) and Chargers (No. 13)  aren’t expected to be in the QB market, so they could be open for business to take another team’s pick while sliding back to the middle of the round.

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Of course, it’s all guesswork and speculation at this point in time. But it does seem as though Bill Belichick — if certain things fall a certain way — could be poised to make his most significant splash in the first round.

CBSBoston.com Staff