New England Patriots: Trading out of the first round may be the best move

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots are staring down one of the most important drafts in their recent history. After a few seasons of subpar drafting, New England bounced back with an excellent draft last year. They will need to have similar success this year if they want to keep pace with the rest of the AFC.

In many ways, the Patriots are still rebuilding. They weren’t really expected to make it to the postseason in the first year of the Mac Jones era, but did anyway. Their postseason run masked a lot of flaws and holes that still need to be filled on this team, but as we reflect on the season, it’s clear this team still needs a lot of help.

The draft is the perfect place to find that help. Identifying top talents who will end up playing the first few seasons of their careers on extremely cheap contracts is where championship teams are built. New England’s recent lack of success reflects their drafting failures over the past few years.

The good news is that this one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory, with some draft experts expecting there to be potential Week 1 starters available on Day 3. New England has eight draft picks, but four of them are in the fifth and sixth rounds. As the draft nears, it’s beginning to feel like trading out of the first round may be the best move for the New England Patriots.

The New England Patriots won’t be picking at No. 21 unless the perfect player is available

As the draft chatter has progressed over the past month or so, it’s become increasingly clear that New England is going to be a candidate to trade out of the first round. The team lost two of their best players in J.C. Jackson and Shaq Mason during the free agency period (Mason was traded), creating two more areas that need to addressed during the draft. Plus, Bill Belichick loves trading down and acquiring more future picks in the process.

Given the depth of the draft class, it makes sense for the Patriots to really explore moving out of the first round. If there are high level players available at the beginning of the second round, trading out of the first round would allow you to pick up one of the top picks in the second round while also getting another Day 2 or 3 pick in the process. In Belichick’s eyes, that’s good business.

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Sometimes it doesn’t always sit right with Patriots fans, and that’s understandable. While the pick has worked out pretty well, I was personally infuriated when Belichick traded out of the first round and ended up selecting Division II safety Kyle Dugger with his first pick in 2020. First round picks are worth getting excited about, so offloading them for more lower picks can be a bit frustrating.

There’s a ton of talent that will be available in the first round this year, and chances are there is going to be a player available at pick #21 who would be a perfect fit for New England. But there’s also a good chance many of New England’s top targets get taken before they are on the clock.

And while the Pats could conceivably add a top talent with their top pick, what if they could add two top talents in the second round? That may seem like wishful thinking, but it could very well happen this year. You know if Belichick is given the opportunity to add two solid players for the price of one, he’s going to take that deal everyday of the week.

Accruing more draft capital seems like a top goal for the Patriots as we near the draft. The best asset the team has heading into the draft is their top pick. They will easily be able to turn that into at least two picks, potentially more depending on the package. That will help give Belichick the ability to move up and down the board as he pleases, which is going to be crucial this year given the amount of talent available.

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So while everyone begins to turn in their final predictions for who the Patriots will take with their top overall pick, it’s worth noting there’s a really good chance Belichick ends up deciding to deal it off for more picks. Typically that would draw the ire of New England Patriots fans everywhere, but rest assured folks, this is the team’s best play this year.