New England Patriots: How Bill Belichick should approach 2021 NFL draft

FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 28: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks to an official during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 28, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 28: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks to an official during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 28, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

This is a suggested draft strategy for the New England Patriots in the 2021 NFL draft in April, and it will without a doubt surprise you. The reason is that it’s almost to be considered a “non-draft” strategy.

It’s different in that it’s a throwback of sorts to a famous draft of the past, and it’s only partially tongue-in-cheek. It may just seriously be the best strategy for a Bill Belichick led Patriots team that perennially drafts very poorly.

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So here we go, this is a suggestion for how the Pats should conduct the 2021 NFL draft to maximize their draft productivity for once.

First some historical context. In 1999, the New Orleans Saints Mike Ditka traded the team’s entire draft for the rights to draft Texas Running back Ricky Williams.

That was a monster trade and Williams never was as good as Ditka hoped. So it was basically a flop.

So what is the suggestion for New England? It’s definitely not to trade its entire draft for any one player. Just most of it and maybe more. To whom and for whom?

A different kind of draft approach for the New England Patriots

That’s a question that may not be quite clear. It depends on scouting the top quarterbacks in the 2021 draft. Now, there is little confidence here that New England would be able to actually deduce which quarterback for whom it would be worth trading a haul of their draft picks for in this draft.

There will be more of that later on. But it’s a quarterback for whom they should trade up, whether or not they re-sign Cam Newton on a shorter-term deal.

And whatever the haul it takes, if they feel the next Patrick Mahomes or Dak Prescott is in this draft and they can acquire him, they should be ready to load up the wheelbarrow and trade the picks.

As we are aware, the Patriots have their highest pick in years at No. 15 in the current draft. But that pick won’t be nearly high enough if they have their sights set on one of the top 2 quarterbacks in the draft.

ESPN has pegged the following three as their top quarterback picks: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson of BYU.

New England is not getting Lawrence from Jacksonville as new Head coach Urban Meyer didn’t sign up to coach the Jaguars without having Lawrence a potential superstar in hand.

So forget about Lawrence. Fields is another story. He’s projected to go No.2 to the hapless Jets. So he’ll likely be off the table as well. But maybe the Jets would trade with New England. Who knows? If Fields is the one, then go for it new England.

But if Wilson is the guy New England wants, a trade-up would be the way to go and should be achievable.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the Patriots are enamored with Wilson who’s has been projected to go early in the draft.

Ergo, New England would have to move up at least to 7 or higher to lock in the choice of Wilson should he be their choice. So here’s what New England should do. But first why.

Why the Patriots should go all-in.

The New England Patriots are a very poor drafting team. They strike out on second-round picks like rookies against Roger Clemens in his heyday.

They didn’t do too much in 2020 to change that evaluation, though Kyle Dugger performed well against type as safety and quasi-linebacker at times. Josh Uche did very little as an edge rusher.

They don’t usually do much better on first-rounders or any other round, except maybe the sixth and seventh rounds in which they have actually found some gems.

So then the proposal here would be this, trade away whatever picks necessary to get whatever quarterback in the daft whom they adjudge to be the best third option (unless the Jets inexplicably pass or would trade the second pick, Fields).

And that includes any and all picks outside the sixth and seventh rounds this season. Make the dealt picks strong enough (Including a No. 1 next year if necessary), to get the quarterback and also 6th and 7th rounders this and next year.

That’s right, draft the quarterback of the future and trade whatever picks it takes, except sixth and seventh rounders, since they can’t pick very well in any other round anyway.

So their draft should consist of the first-round quarterback and a bunch of sixth and seventh-round picks. As many as they can accumulate.

Since New England seems better able to find talent in those later two rounds and in undrafted free agency, it makes perfect sense to trade away whatever higher round picks they need to to fill the most important position on the team, quarterback, of which they currently have none.

Then fill in the monstrous holes in the team with lower round picks and undrafted free agents. They will not do any worse than they have drafted, for certain.

In addition, the team gets filled out with, for a change hopefully, some top free agents who can actually play. With all the cap space they possess and the additional millions they can save by cutting ties with a bunch of other highly paid players this offseason, they can really make a splash for once in free agency.

So that’s the theory. The most important position on the field bar none is the quarterback. The New England Patriots don’t have one at the moment.

So, throw most of your draft capital early in the draft on that position and get back extra sixth and seventh-round picks. As many as you can get.

Then use your strength in picking gems in lower rounds to pick unheralded good players like maybe Julian Edelman from Kent State and Mike Onwenu from Michigan.

Next. Jimmy Garoppolo the best option out there. dark

Then use the dollars you free up by cutting ties with highly-paid older veterans and delve into the free-agent market big-time and pay the freight for really good players.

That’s it. It won’t happen but if you stop and think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Possibly!