The Patriots currently sit with four picks in the first two days of the draft. That’s good, until you realize they have one at 23 and the other three are in the 87-100 range. On the flip side, that gives the team quite a bit of capital to move around the board, especially on the second day. Their main trade chip will be the 23rd selection in the draft, as a means for trading down into the second round and accumulate an extra Day Two selection either for this year or next.
The first round is typically the most exciting round for fans as the premium talents that can help right away are available. The Patriots certainly are looking for help in the front seven, one of the easier plug-and-play positions in the draft, to offset free agent losses while also preparing for next year’s potential departures. Take for example Chase Winovich, who was selected by the team 77th overall in last year’s draft. He’ll be primed to take over as one of the top edge rushers in the rotation with the departures of Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy. We could see a similar effect next year, with a huge chunk of players scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency assuming none of these players sign contract extensions.
Just from the core group of players I’ll list these names: Dont’a Hightower, Lawrence Guy, Joe Thuney, James White, Jason McCourty, Adam Butler, John Simon, James Develin, and David Andrews. In addition quite a few depth guys are slated for free agency, although Bill Belichick will find no problems replacing that demographic of players year-to-year. With so many players slated to hit free agency and a lot of dead money on the cap coming off the books, the Patriots will have a massive war chest to work with in the 2021 off-season. Some of that money will be eaten up with extensions with Butler, Thuney, Guy, White, Hightower, and Simon being potential extension candidates.
Using Rich Hill’s draft value chart, the Patriots’ first round pick is worth 244.86 points. With the need to fill up roster spots for next year, the team should use that pick to add more selections on Day Two unless a player who should have gone Top-20 slides to them at 23. The sweet spot for a trade down will be around the mid-to-late 30s to pick up a third-round selection and more. One such trade partner that matches well would be the Indianapolis Colts, who own the 34th and 44th selections, as they could offer a 3rd (75) and 5th (160) to move up from 34 to 23 to get a player. That would cut the pick gap from 64 to 41 and allow Belichick the freedom to move around in the third round for players.
With those extra second- and third-round selections, the Patriots could focus on adding more talent to the defensive line, edge rush, linebackers, tight ends, receivers, and interior offensive line. Typically this is also the area where Belichick finds the diamond in the rough players who greatly exceed expectations for their draft status. We’ll find out next week what plans Belichick has for the draft and which areas he’ll address. One thing’s for sure, he’s going to be adding a lot of players to the roster this week.