The first round of the 2017 NFL draft came and went. And while it saw a lot of movement in regards to trades, the New England Patriots have not entered the action just yet. Despite potential trade chips in the fold – namely, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and cornerback Malcolm Butler – the team has opted to stay put.
Consequently, for the fifth time since Bill Belichick became head coach of the Patriots, they did not make a selection in the first round. In the past, New England always made at least one pick in round two; no later than number 60 (2016, cornerback Cyrus Jones). Without any movement yesterday, though, the team still remains on schedule to make its first pick this year in round three (#72).
There appear to be multiple reasons for why this is the case but it all boils down to the underlying principle of the Patriots’ approach to business: maximizing value. In short, it seems as if the team did not feel comfortable moving back into round one by either trading future draft capital or a player on the roster. Garoppolo and Butler, as of right now, seem more valuable to the team than trading for potential and projection – which is what a draft pick brings.
On a grander scale, this reflects how the team views the current composition of personnel and the talent available in the draft.
The Patriots have the premier roster in the NFL, especially with Garoppolo and Butler on it. The team has depth and talent across the board as the lone holes appear to be on the interior offensive line, the defensive edge, at linebacker and at safety. All four positions are set at the starting spots, though, and only need an influx of additional depth. New England’s decision makers seem content with this and obviously felt no need to move back into the first round to enhance the talent already in place.
Considering that the Patriots have already invested substential draft capital by trading their original first round selection in exchange for wide receiver Brandin Cooks (who, by the way, is younger than Denver Broncos' first round selection Garett Bolles), not trading up was definitely the right and most economic course of action yesterday.
Instead, the team will attack one of the strengths of this year's draft: its depth. It becomes increasingly obvious that the Patriots feel as if the middle rounds offer the best value when combined with a) what the team already has in place and b) what the team already has invested. There is still a lot of high-upside available and New England will try to take advantage of it to add to the talented core in place – at a relatively modest price.
With the Patriots approaching the first two-and-a-half months of the 2017 offseason as comparatively aggressively as they did, they have set themselves up nicely to do just that.