The New England Patriots traded the 28th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, as many fans and experts both predicted and expected. Surprisingly, the pick isn't for a for a quarterback, which many people anticipated.
Instead, the Patriots shipped the 28th pick to the New Orleans Saints for the 56th overall pick in this year's draft, as well as a 1st round pick in 2012. While I was initially satisfied with the trade, based on how the rest of the first round fell into place, I'm not as content now. Here's how the rest of the first round fell into place:
Saints - Round 1, Pick 28: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Bears - Round 1, Pick 29: Gabe Carimi, OL, Wisconsin
Jets - Round 1, Pick 30: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Steelers - Round 1, Pick 31: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Packers - Round 1, Pick 32: Derrek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi St.
In those five picks, three of the Patriots top options for the 33rd pick were wiped away, including the best two five-techniques (bar none) on the board in Muhammad Wilkerson and Cameron Heyward. Because of this, the Patriots are unlikely to be able to fill that need this year. Had the team simply selected Wilkerson or Heyward at 28, then waited to move the 33rd pick for a first rounder in 2012, the team could have filled the need at right end while also picking up solid future value. You could simply say, "Well, in hindsight..." But I disagree. With three teams needing defensive line help (Bears, Jets, Steelers), there was no reason to take the risk of losing both of the coveted five techniques by 33. Then again, the Patriots simply might have not valued Wilkerson and Heyward that highly.
There are some positives to the trade, however. The Patriots will get a mid-late first round draft pick next year (if there is a draft next year) and they've picked up another second round pick for this year. That is terrific value. I mean Terrific (notice the capital "t"). We'll see what Bill Belichick can do with the five picks he owns on day two.
Trade Grade: B+
Lets move on from the trade and continue with the day two talk. There are still some good prospects left on the board. At outside linebacker, the likes of Jabaal Sheard, Justin Houston, Allen Bailey, Brooks Reed, Akeem Ayers, Martez Wilson, and the big fish: Da'Quan Bowers. At defensive end... well, there's Jarvis Jenkins and lets just move on after that (not sure Christian Ballard is a fit, but don't count him out). At wide receiver, there's quite a few options left, including Torrey Smith, Leonard Hankerson, Austin Pettis, Greg Little, Randall Cobb, Terrence Toliver, and Titus Young. At running back, only Ingram is off the board, so the likes of Mikel Leshoure, Jordan Todman, Ryan Williams, and co. are all still there. Along the interior line, there's still Ben Ijalana, Clint Boling, Stefen Wisniewski, Rodney Hudson, and others. There are also other options such as Rahim Moore.
In fact, there is so much value available in the second round, that I wouldn't be surprised to see the Patriots trade back to around 40-45 with a quarterback needy team such as the 49ers, Redskins, or Vikings, pick up a third round pick, and select at that next spot. In fact, the only way I see them sticking at 33 is if they're really sold on a certain prospect. Da'Quan Bowers or Mikel Leshoure could be options for the team at 33. But I really am not sure what to expect.
Either way, with the Patriots slated to make five picks on day two, it should be a lot of fun for Patriots fans.