Thursday's analysis explored trade possibilities for the Patriots with respect to their 2011 1st round draft picks. It would seem that based on their typical approach to the draft, the Patriots would appear unlikely to trade up from 17, but there may be scope to trade down a few spots. However, the scope for movement with the 28th overall pick is much more unpredictable - there is a decent chance the Patriots choose to go against popular sentiment and trade up. Equally, there is a very good chance the Patriots trade down into the second round where they can receive awesome value for their pick, with the added security that they have the 33rd pick not too far away. But again, predicting what Bill Belichick will do in a given draft is not an easy task to say the least.
This analysis looks at the 2011 2nd round draft picks the Patriots currently possess - namely the 33rd and 60th overall picks. Again, I will look at the likelihood of trading these picks and which potential trade partners could emerge.
Round 2, Pick 33
This for me is a very unlikely scenario as I can't imagine the Patriots wanting to make three 1st round selections, not simply for financial ramifications since at this stage of the draft they will not be severe, but more so because it would limit the Patriots ability to be a power player in the 2012 draft. I can see only one realistic scenario in which the Patriots trade up from 33 - if the Patriots think 28 will generate greater interest. A number of teams may not want to wait Thursday night out before making a move, in other words teams may want to walk away from Thursday's 1st round with their quarterback of the future and not wait for Friday. Therefore 28 could certainly be more tradable and generate greater value. In this scenario, the Patriots could trade up from 33 to 25 or 26, and then trade back out of the first round from 28 if they think they will receive greater value in such a trade. It sounds complicated but it is exactly the type of movement which makes the Patriots so effective on draft day.
Seattle Seahawks (25th Overall Pick) & Baltimore Ravens (26th Overall Pick) - the same teams I identified as trade up partners for the 28th pick, both teams would make sense to strike a deal. The Ravens may not find the value they want at 26 and the Seahawks want more draft picks. Together with the 33rd pick, the Patriots would likely have to give up the 92nd pick to move up.
Chances of Trading Up?
The Patriots will not trade up simply to make three 1st round picks - 100% not happening. If Belichick thinks he can receive better compensation by trading down from 28 rather than 33, then I think there is a decent chance they trade up from 33 then down from 28.
Since the draft altered its format last year, putting the 1st round in primetime on Thursday night, it has heightened the intrigue surrounding the 33rd pick. Given an extra night to stack their draft boards, commentators speculate that teams will make significant offers to jump to the top of the round and grab the prospect they want. It didn't pan out that way in 2010, as the St. Louis Rams chose the starting left tackle Roger Saffold in the slot. That's not to say the Rams weren't offered significant compensation for the pick but we'll never know. Much depends on the 28th pick to predict how the Patriots will deal with the 33rd selection. If the Patriots stand pat at 28 or even opt to trade up from 28, I think it is close to certain they trade down from 33. However, if the Patriots trade down from the 28th slot, while they could still also trade down from 33, I think it's much more likely in that scenario that they make their selection. The draft value chart somewhat goes out the window with this pick if trading down, and the least the Patriots could expect would be swapping 2011 2nd Round picks and a future 2nd round pick. However, if the Patriots trade down, there should be no shortage of takers so I think they would push hard for a swap of 2nd round picks and future 1st rounder.
Cincinnati Bengals (35th Overall Pick), Tennessee Titans (39th Overall Pick), Minnesota Vikings (43rd Overall Pick) and the San Francisco 49ers (45th Overall Pick) would all be tripping over themselves for this pick looking for a quarterback, particularly if they don't trade up into the end of the 1st round.
The issue would be further clouded if a top non-quarterback prospect (such as Mark Ingram) fell into the 2nd round. It is difficult to predict which prospects will fall but a potential trade partner could be:
Denver Broncos (36th Overall Pick) - Denver has a poor rushing attack in 2010 and Knowshon Moreno doesn't seem like a feature back. However, I doubt the Broncos would give up a future 1st whereas some of the above teams would perhaps be more willing.
Chances of Trading Down?
This will depend upon the 28th pick and what the Patriots choose to do with that pick. If they trade down from 28, the chances of trading down from33 are lowered somewhat. If they make a selection at 28 or even move up, I would almost guarantee 33 gets traded down.
Round 2, Pick 60
I think the Patriots will look at the 60th overall pick and know they have a tremendously flexible pick where they can do almost anything with it with the hopes of finding value. I think they would be more than willing to trade up a few spots to grab a prospect they like who started to fall down the draft, similar to the Rob Gronkowski selection in 2010. I'm not sure they would move up for an interior lineman since the draft is considered quite deep with quality interior guys, although if someone like Danny Watkins fell far enough, they would strongly consider it. I think the likely position the Patriots would move up for would be an outside linebacker, if they hadn't already selected one with an earlier pick.
The Kansas City Chiefs (55th Overall Pick) and the Seattle Seahawks (57th Overall Pick) would appear to be solid landing spots for a trade up. However, with similar systems, the Chiefs may be in the market for a similar player and so the Patriots may have to stretch further to attempt a deal with the St. Louis Rams (54th Overall Pick). Each move would require approximately a 4th round pick.
Chances of Trading Up?
This one really is anyone's guess, as the pick is so flexible for the Patriots, but certainly if a prospect starts to fall to the middle of the round, I think the Patriots could strongly consider a move upwards.
Value will be a deciding factor here. There is a sentiment among analysts that after the Top 50 players or so, there is a drop off in talent levels in this draft. Unless an outstanding prospect falls this far, the Patriots will have a number of prospects graded out at roughly the same level for this spot. If many of those prospects are still on the board, the Patriots will trade down in a heartbeat, looking to pick up a high future 2nd round pick.
The draft is considered deep at defensive line and pass rushers. I would expect the Patriots to explore trade possibilities with teams at the top of the 3rd round looking to jump up and grab one of the last remaining top defensive players. The Buffalo Bills (68th Overall Pick) and the Cleveland Browns (70th Overall Pick) would both make sense for such a trade up for prospects like Allen Bailey, Sam Acho or Marvin Austin if any were available as both teams have definite defensive line needs.
Chances of Trading Down?
Quite high I would think. The Patriots will have a number of prospects graded out at this level, some of which they feel will be there at the top of the 3rd round. If they can trade back and still get one of these players while making a jump of 15 or so places in the 2012 2nd round, they will not hesitate to execute such a trade.