It's no secret that the Patriots will be trading during draft day; they have already received interest from other clubs who are looking for potential trade targets. As always, head coach and GM Bill Belichick's store is open for business and will take the highest offer. Michael Lombardi from NFL.com gives his perspective on the Patriots' trading options and believes that "there will be so many teams that want to acquire that 28th overall pick that the value of the pick will far exceed the old chart value." Sounds like a solid investment to me.
Lombardi's article is excellent because it summarizes how the Patriots attack the draft. Belichick has recently stated that he sets up tiers of prospects for each position in the draft, which determines where the player should be drafted and how many players can be drafted at that position. The Patriots would be happy with any player on that certain tier, which allows them to move down to pick up additional value, while still grabbing a top prospect from that tier. Lombardi goes as far as to say that he "can actually visualize a scenario in which the Patriots move from No. 28 to the mid 30s, and then move pick No. 33 to the low the 40s and end up with the same players they would have selected at Nos. 28 and 33." That would be ideal and it would give the Patriots more bargaining chips for the rest of the draft.
His article is definitely worth a read.
After the jump, I'll give you my five most likely draft day trades.
Trade #1: The Patriots will trade down from #17 with either Tampa Bay (#20), Kansas City (#21), or Philadelphia (#23). The Patriots will want to pick up some extra value from the #17 pick and these are three trade worthy teams.
The Buccaneers are looking for a stud defensive end (don't worry, a 4-3 DE), and could try and leap frog San Diego who are open to both 3-4 DEs and 3-4 OLBs, which sort of cover all of the DE prospects in the first round. I'd be surprised if it was Tampa because they're a young team that is still collecting players, so they could still be going for depth.
Kansas City is an ideal trade partner because of the Pioli connection. They could move up to pass the Giants or the Chargers to get a top lineman on either offense or defense. The Chiefs need help on pretty much every offensive line spot and every defensive line spot, so they need an increase in talent. Of course, they have Pioli at the helm so I wouldn't be surprised if they had the same draft method as the Patriots and would be more than happy to select a player from their draft tier.
Skip the Colts at #22, I don't see the Patriots helping the competition, unless Bill Polian offers an incredible deal.
Philadelphia at #23 makes the most sense for a trade. The Eagles are looking for an offensive lineman, as are the Colts, and most teams immediately above them in the draft. In order to get their pick of a lineman, the Eagles will have to move up in the draft. Also, they're in the market for another cornerback and with all the legal issues surrounding Aqib Talib, the Buccaneers could take the best CB on the board.
My guess: The Patriots trade down with the Eagles. #17 -> #23, #85, #104. Value ~+50
Trade #2: The Patriots will trade down from #28 with the Broncos (#36), the Cardinals (#38), the Titans (#39), the Redskins (#41), or the Vikings (#43). I'm leaving out the Bills because they'll save draft picks and not want to move up. I'm also leaving out the Bengals because they're notorious for not trading up (they've only trade up TWICE). Since all of these teams are looking for franchise quarterbacks, Lombardi says the Patriots could get some value out of the #28 spot. All of these teams need a better starting quarterback and will be jockeying up the draft boards for position, so it will be interesting to see what might happen. I don't think Elway will want to trade too far ahead with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow still on the roster, and the Titans, Redskins and Vikings might be too far down in the round for the Patriots to make a simple deal.
My guess: The Patriots trade down with the Cardinals. #28 -> #38, #69. Value ~+100
Trade #3: The Patriots will trade down from #33 with Broncos (#36), the Titans (#39), the Redskins (#41), or the Vikings (#43). The same teams will be looking to make a move and grab a quarterback and at #33, it makes a lot of sense to trade with the teams around #40 overall (Titans, Redskins, Vikings). In a battle for the draft spot, I see the Titans putting forth the necessary payment and premium to get the first pick of the second day. The Redskins just don't have the draft picks (no third or fourth round picks), and the Patriots already have the Vikings 3rd round pick. The reason the Patriots will be able to receive great premiums is all the teams fighting to trade for these draft picks.
My Guess: The Patriots trade down with the Titans. #33 -> #39, #109, #212, 2012 3rd. Value ~+100
Trade #4: The Patriots will trade up from #60 with Detroit (#44) or Denver (#46). There is a lot of value at the top of the second round and the Patriots have the draft picks to take advantage of these players. Detroit is in a growth position and could be looking for plenty of depth on the roster. They've drafted a couple super stars (Stafford, Suh, Johnson) and they need support players. Denver is playing with their second 2nd round pick and could be looking to add more value later in the draft.
My Guess: The Patriots trade up with the Lions. #60 + #104 + #109 -> #44. Value ~neutral
Before moving on to the final trade prediction, let's recap what the Patriots currently own:
#23 (from PHI)
#38 (from AZ)
#39 (from TEN)
#44 (from DET)
#69 (from AZ)
#74 (from MIN)
#85 (from PHI)
#212 (from TEN)
2012 3rd (from TEN)
Trade #5: The Patriots will trade trade a 3rd round pick for a 2012 2nd round pick. Looking at how many picks the Patriots have acquired, I see them doing many things to move around. I see them moving up from the 3rd round to grab a player at the bottom half of the second round (Possible example: Patriots #74 + #92 -> Ravens #58 + #180). However, the one trade I would be willing to bet some money on would be the Patriots flipping a third round pick for a second round pick in 2012. If the above trades take place, I can see the Patriots moving the Philadelphia 3rd rounder (#85), or even the Minnesota pick (#74). Since this trade relies on other moves, I won't predict exactly, but...
My Guess: The Patriots trade a bottom half of the third round pick for a 2012 second round pick.
Here's a three round mock based on how this draft turns out:
#23 (from PHI) - Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State; Heyward is a great fit for the Patriots at the DE spot.
#38 (from AZ) - Nate Solder, OT, Colorado; I expect one of the top five tackles to drop out of the first round as a result of a quarterback rush.
#39 (from TEN) - Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor; Watkins will either go to Chicago, or he'll drop to ~40. I see Chicago going in a different direction.
#44 (from DET) - Jabaal Sheard, OLB, Pittsburgh; Sheard's strength and speed complements Heyward's abilities and they create a great tandem.
#58 (from Ravens + #180, [#74+#92]) - Curtis Brown, CB, Texas; Brown can be a great slot corner and can also develop into a solid #2 in the future.
#69 (from AZ) - Allen Bailey, OLB/DE, Miami; Surprise head-scratching pick, I see Bailey's potential and athleticism giving Belichick a new toy to play with.
#85 (from PHI) - Trade for 2012 second round pick; Cash for a rainy day.
I don't think all of these trades will certainly happen, but I wouldn't be surprised. Look for the Patriots to cluster picks at the end of the first or the start of the second (think three picks in a span of 15) in order to get a core of players from the same tier. Looking at the chips the Patriots have in place, if they receive good trade offers, they'll bunch at the start of the second. If they don't like their offers, they'll move up to the end of the first.
What do you think of the Patriots' trading methods?