New England Patriots: Shaun Wade is a Belichick type of trade

May 15, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Shaun Wade #29 of the Baltimore Ravens runs drills during rookie Camp. Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports
May 15, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Shaun Wade #29 of the Baltimore Ravens runs drills during rookie Camp. Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots trade with the Baltimore Ravens for cornerback Shaun Wade is exactly the kind of move the Bill Belichick loves to make. He’s a low risk/high reward player.

If Wade entered the draft in 2019, he was projected to be a first round pick. Instead, Wade dropped all the way to the fifth round in this year’s draft.

If New England can fully tap Wade’s potential, they could end up with a starting cornerback. If not, he only cost them a 2022 seventh round pick and a 2023 fifth rounder. That would be great value if Wade finds his form.

Know who else were great value pick ups? Look at the 2021 draft class. Defensive tackle Christian Barmore could have gone in the first round. And defensive end Ronnie Perkins shouldn’t have been available in the third round.

Wade’s decision to return to Ohio State proved costly, as his 2020 performance crippled his draft stock. Rehabilitating his reputation didn’t work either. He missed the Buckeyes first pro day due to a turf toe injury.

Wade participated in the April pro day and the 6-1 196-pound corner ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and posted a 37.5 vertical. Good numbers for a corner of his size, but what Wade put on tape in 2020 is what scouts remember.

Why the New England Patriots could have a steal in Shaun Wade

So what was Wade at his best? He offers the potential of a versatile corner that can play inside and outside who’s also a physical defender that’s a willing tackler and an effective blitzer. That’s who the Patriots hope Wade can become with the right coaching.

There’s reason for optimism. For a while Ohio State was an NFL cornerback factory, producing first rounder after first rounder:

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1997: Shawn Springs, 3rd overall
1999: Antoine Winfield, 23rd
2000: Ahmed Plummer, 24th
2001: Nate Clements, 21st
2006: Donte Whitner, 8th
2014: Bradley Roby, 31st
2016: Eli Apple, 10th
2017: Marshon Lattimore, 11th
2018: Denzel Ward, 4th
2020: Jeff Okudah, 3rd
2020: Damon Arnette, 19th

There are 10 Pro Bowl selections, 150 interceptions, and 17 touchdowns among these eleven players. The bad news: recent Buckeye corners have been a mixed bag. While Bradley Roby and Denzel Ward get good grades from Pro Football Focus, Marshon Lattimore, Eli Apple, Jeff Okudah, and Damon Arnette had poor grades.

So what will Wade be for the Patriots? Why rush him? New England could treat this as a year of development for the young corner. Stephon Gilmore remains on the team, though he’s still holding out for bump in pay. And J.C. Jackson remains on the team. If the Patriots get both on the field, they probably won’t need Wade much this season, if at all.

New England would need Wade for next season. Gilmore and Jackson will both be free agents and in position to cash in. The Patriots won’t pay top dollar for both, and it is possible New England lets both walk in free agency.

As for Jackson, buyer beware. Yes he had nine interceptions in 2020, but in the five games played without Gilmore, Jackson allowed four of his top-five receiving yard totals in those games. He had three interceptions in those games, but also allowed four touchdowns.

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The Patriots might be able to take it slow with Wade. Give him some good coaching, work on his technique and develop him with bigger plans for 2022 if all goes well with him. If Wade becomes a starting corner, then great. If not, then Wade only cost two late round selections, making him a solid low risk/high reward option for the New England Patriots.