NFL Draft: Patriots, To Trade or Not to Trade

Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson would look good in a Pats uni, but that's pure fantasy.

Patriots Draft Strategy

One of these years, Bill Belichick will surprise us all and use all his 1st round picks. One day perhaps, Belichick will even trade up in the draft to nab that game-changing talent.

But alas, it is not meant to be tonight.  Tonight, we will drop our heads in disappointment once again as the commish announces the Pats have traded out of the 1st round – again.

The Patriots will not draft any of the players that you want them to draft.  Nor will they draft the guys that Kiper, McShay, or Mayock predicted. See Nate Solder, Devin McCourty, Jerod Mayo, and so on.

They may trade out of the 1st round altogether as there’s ample evidence that Bill Belichick would prefer 4 2nd round picks over 2 1st round picks. The Patriots have taken 9 players in the second round over the last three years, including Pat Chung, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Spikes, and Sebastian Vollmer. Most teams would be lucky to do that well with 9 1st round selections. So, my first prediction is that the Pats trade out of the first round altogether.

Belichick has a formula and he hasn’t strayed from it in years, so why now? His strategy balances the need to win this year and next year.  This approach allows the Patriots to avoid the typical win/degrade/rebuild cycle.  The Colts lose Peyton Manning and go 2-14.  The Patriots lose Brady and go 11-5.  Belichick believes in stability and depth, not in rolling the dice on a 1st round pick when he could roll the dice on two 2nd round picks.

Greg Bedard made a good point on Dennis & Callahan this morning — the Patriots do not draft for starters. They draft for the future and for depth.

The Patriots have the advantage of not “needing” anything in particular to win. They can trade away a small advantage this year for a huge, long term advantage.  It’s NFL draft style loan sharking – Belichick is taking advantage of all the coaches and executives that desperately need that $1000 to tide them over to pay day.  This approach also allows the Pats to counteract the negative side effect of winning — late round draft position.

Which desperate team will subsidize the Patriots future this year?

If I’m wrong about this and Belichick changes course, than the upside is that Patriots fans get to enjoy the 1st round of the NFL draft for the first time in a few years.

Who won’t Pats Draft?

I have a simple formula in deciding who the Pats won’t draft: if you’ve heard the guy mentioned, they won’t draft him. Here’s who they won’t draft based on the amount of media coverage these names received:

Mark Barron, S, Alabama – this has become a hot prediction yet is a head-scratcher; very small odds that Pats trade up

Nick Perry, DL, USC

Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama

Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

Whitney Mercilus, Illinois

Vinny Curry, Marshall

Shea McClellin, LB, Boise State

Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama (seems like there is an extremely talented but troubled CB in the draft every year and the Pats never take them)

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Who will the Pats draft?

Truth be told, no one knows.  The Pats keep a tight lid on their intentions to prevent an uptick in the stock of their coveted prospects.  That said, it makes draft night more fun if you have a few guesses hanging out there that could make you look like a genius.

So, what’s the formula for a Patriots 1st round selection? The last three years they have drafted a offensive tackle from Colorado, a cornerback from Rutgers, and a linebacker from Tennessee.  The Patriots have done best when drafting offensive/defensive linemen.  The Patriots value versatility.  The Patriots have signed a linebacker, safety, and wide receiver this offseason. The Pats may lose two starters on the offensive line and two on the defensive line.  The Pats value depth at all positions, but particularly on the lines.

So, given the Pats needs, preferences, and track record, they will likely draft an offensive or defensive lineman.  So, who’s left after all the players that have gotten press as potential Pats picks?  Well, here’s a few guys I could see the Pats picking at some point or another:

Jeff Allen, G/T, Illinois (Thanks to @T_Roos for this one) – versatile

Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia – versatile; not likely to drop this far but you never know

Michael Brockers, DT, LSU – seen this name around, but he looks too much like a Belichickian DT to leave him off the list

Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana – under the radar, small school, Bedard mentioned Pats love him, which should count against this selection, but haven’t heard his name anywhere else

Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia – Not a 1st round pick, but near the top of McShay’s DB board for his incredible ball skills, which was something Pats secondary sorely lacked last year aside from Sterling Moore’s late-season emergence.

Justin Bethel, S, Presbyterian – Also not a 1st rounder, but productive and durable, under the radar, versatile as special teams performer; McShay’s top safety with regard to ball skills, which was Pats secondary’s biggest deficiency last year

Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State – Time to prepare for life after Welker.  Draft Martin for next year. Good separation skills and special teams play, according to the experts.

Player I’d love to see in a Pats uniform:

Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska – this guy is an animal; fell in love watching him play last season; only fits the mold as an off the radar pick although Mike Reiss had him in today’s mock draft and apparently he is soaring up the big boards.

William Wallis wrote this for @DrunknsportsmenHe eats, drinks, breathes, and shits Patriots football.

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