The New England Patriots’ fingerprints were left throughout the 2018 NFL draft.
From the start of free agency on March 14 through the last of the 256 picks on April 28, head coach Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots’ contingent made a dozen trades involving draft capital.
But what became of that capital? Which prospects were ultimately written down on the cards?
As was the case in 2017, finding out requires a map of the league’s teams, a ball of twine, a container of thumbtacks and the vigor of Charlie Kelly tracking down Pepe Silvia in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
Many selections once in the possession of the Patriots’ war room soon weren’t. Sometimes they’d change hands, and then change hands again in a matter of minutes.
A total of nine organizations, five veterans and two dozen draft choices for that spring and the next were involved in New England’s early 2018 maneuvering.
Let’s reopen the investigation.
THE FIRST CLEVELAND DEAL
- 2019 third-round pick
- Danny Shelton
- No. 159 – later sent to Raiders
As 4 p.m. ET arrived and the trading window opened, so did the official announcement that New England had sent a 2019 third-round pick to the Browns in exchange for Danny Shelton and the 159th overall pick in the 2018 draft. Shelton, a former first-rounder who’d have his fifth-year option declined in the months that followed, would go on to appear in 13 games during New England’s upcoming regular season, providing a presence against the run on the way to 21 tackles. As for the selection the Patriots gathered along with the nose tackle, well, more on that later.
THE SECOND CLEVELAND DEAL
- No. 205 – later sent to Redskins and Rams, becoming Trevon Young
- Jason McCourty
- No. 219 – Danny Etling
The Browns announced the release of cornerback Jason McCourty on the second day of free agency. But the move never reached the wire. New England instead moved down 14 draft slots from the sixth to seventh round to acquire the 104-game starter. And with the 219th overall pick obtained along with McCourty, the Patriots took former Purdue and LSU quarterback Danny Etling, who’d spend all of the 2018 season on the team’s practice squad. As for the pick the Browns received? It went to the Redskins and then to the Rams, who took Louisville linebacker Trevon Young at No. 205.
THE OAKLAND DEAL
- No. 159 – later sent to Colts, becoming Daurice Fountain
- Cordarrelle Patterson
- No. 210 – Braxton Berrios
Remember the aforementioned fifth-round selection New England gathered from Cleveland in the Shelton deal? It’d be gone before the opening week of movement was over as the Patriots gained a two-time first-team All-Pro returner in Cordarrelle Patterson from the Raiders on March 18. Along with Patterson came a sixth-round selection at No. 210 overall that’d be used on Miami receiver Braxton Berrios. No. 159 that was briefly New England’s to use wound up Jon Gruden’s, and the Raiders handed it to Chris Ballard’s Colts, who subsequently drafted Northern Iowa wideout Daurice Fountain.
THE LOS ANGELES DEAL
- Brandin Cooks
- No. 136 – later sent to Panthers, becoming Marquis Haynes
- No. 23 – Isaiah Wynn
- No. 198 – later sent to Chiefs
As the calendar flipped to April, the Patriots’ flipping was only beginning. Perennial 1,000-yard wideout Brandin Cooks, who had seen his $8.459 million option picked up, then found himself traded to the Rams along with No. 136 overall in the 2018 draft. In return, New England got a second first-rounder at No. 23, which would become Georgia offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, in addition to the 198th overall pick. But neither the Patriots nor their eventual Super Bowl LIII opponent would be stand pat with those mid-to-late assets.
THE SAN FRANCISCO DEAL
- No. 95 – Tarvarius Moore
- Trent Brown
- No. 143 – Ja’Whaun Bentley
The morning after Wynn became a Patriot, another tackle was on his way. The Patriots dealt a third-round choice to the 49ers in exchange for 6-foot-8, 380-pound Trent Brown and a fifth-rounder at No. 143 overall. Brown went on to start all 19 games at left tackle for the Patriots through February. And the 143rd pick would go on to become Purdue linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who notched 14 tackles and an interception over the course of three appearances before landing on injured reserve. As for San Francisco, Southern Mississippi defensive back Tarvarius Moore was the eventual result of No. 95.
THE FIRST DETROIT DEAL
- No. 43 – Kerryon Johnson
- No. 51 – later sent to Bears
- No. 117 – later sent to Buccaneers
The October deadline compensation for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would be scattered, and No. 43 overall would become longtime Patriots executive Bob Quinn’s to make. With it, the Lions selected running back Kerryon Johnson out of Auburn, who’d rush for 641 yards and receive for 213 yards during a rookie campaign that consisted of 10 games. New England collected No. 51 in the second round as well as No. 117 in the fourth round in the agreement. Placeholders they’d both be.
THE CHICAGO DEAL
- No. 51 – Anthony Miller
- No. 105 – later sent to Browns
- 2019 second-round pick
The Patriots dropped down the board again after already dropping down eight picks. To the Bears went No. 51 overall and Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller, who’d catch seven touchdowns in his rookie year, went along with it. In return came the 105th pick, at least temporarily, yet also Chicago’s second-round pick in the 2019 draft.
THE TAMPA BAY DEAL
- No. 63 – Carlton Davis
- No. 117 – Jordan Whitehead
- No. 56 – Duke Dawson
As the second round neared its end, the Patriots changed field position. New England jumped up to No. 56 overall to secure Florida cornerback Duke Dawson, who’d ultimately redshirt his rookie season after returning from the hamstring ailment that brought him to injured reserve in September. The Buccaneers garnered Nos. 63 and 117 in the agreement. Those slots would be invested in Auburn corner Carlton Davis and Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead, respectively.
THE THIRD CLEVELAND DEAL
- No. 105 – Antonio Callaway
- No. 114 – later sent to Lions
- No. 178 – Christian Sam
As Day 3 got going, New England got trading as No. 105 headed to Chicago and then Cleveland. The third swap in six weeks between the Patriots and general manager John Dorsey’s Browns saw the latter nab Antonio Callaway, a wideout from Florida. It also saw the Patriots scrounge up Nos. 114 and 178 overall. Linebacker Christian Sam from Arizona State winded up one of them.
THE SECOND DETROIT DEAL
- No. 114 – Da’Shawn Hand
- 2019 third-round pick
New England then sent No. 114 to the Lions in the second draft-day trade between the clubs. With it, Detroit went for Alabama defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand, who would start eight games while notching three sacks and two forced fumbles for former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s side in 2018. A third-round pick in the upcoming draft was obtained in the process for New England.
THE KANSAS CITY DEAL
- No. 198 – Khalil McKenzie
- No. 233 – later sent to Eagles
- No. 243 – Keion Crossen
No. 198 overall from the Patriots-Rams trade for Cooks would be shipped to the Chiefs as Saturday rolled on. Kansas City then took Tennessee guard Khalil McKenzie, the son of Reggie McKenzie, who is now part of the Miami Dolphins’ front office. New England got a pair of seventh-rounders spanned 10 slots from each other in the transaction. The second of which, No. 243, went towards Western Carolina cornerback Keion Crossen. And Crossen, the program’s first draft selection since 1994, proceeded to carve a core place in the kicking game as a Patriots rookie.
THE PHILADELPHIA DEAL
- No. 233 – Jordan Mailata
- No. 250 – Ryan Izzo
- 2019 seventh-round pick
The 12th and final trade the Patriots made in the infancy of the 2018 league year sent the No. 233 overall pick from the Chiefs to Philadelphia. The Super Bowl LII champion Eagles used it on Australian rugby convert Jordan Mailata, who now finds himself on the depth chart at offensive tackle. The Patriots got No. 250 and a 2019 seventh-round flier in exchange. And with the team’s “Mr. Irrelevant” selection came Florida State tight end Ryan Izzo.
“There’s no sense in kind of going through the trade recap,” Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said during his post-draft press conference. “Hopefully, everybody wrote it down in pencil as you were going through the day.”