Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray’s name was called at No. 23 overall in the 2020 NFL draft.
But it wasn’t the New England Patriots making the call on Thursday night.
New England acquired No. 37 overall and No. 71 overall from the Los Angeles Chargers by moving out of the first round. And doing so effectively closed a gap that opened leading up to the trade deadline last October.
It’s a variable that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick acknowledged on his pre-draft conference call, after wide receiver Mohamed Sanu’s arrival from the Atlanta Falcons left the war room without what would become slot No. 55.
“I think other teams are falling into the same category as we are, that they’re starting to figure out whatever their situation is,” Belichick said. “We have a lot of draft picks. Some of them are kind of more in a certain area. We have a little bit of a void there in the second round, although that player – Sanu – filled a need for us, so that’s OK.”
New England turns the page with five selections between the second and third rounds of the draft on Friday. And in all, there are now 13 pieces of capital in the cupboard for Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio through Saturday.
RESETTING NEW ENGLAND’S PICKS
- No. 37 – via Los Angeles
- No. 71 – via Los Angeles
- No. 87
- No. 98 – compensatory
- No. 100 – compensatory
- No. 125 – via Chicago
- No. 139 – via Tampa Bay
- No. 172 – via Detroit
- No. 195 – via Denver
- No. 204 – via Houston
- No. 212 – compensatory
- No. 213 – compensatory
- No. 230 – via Atlanta
The first round closed out with Michigan interior lineman Cesar Ruiz, Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks, LSU linebacker Patrick Queen, Georgia offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, Texas Christian corner Jeff Gladney and LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
As for New England, who’d swung seven draft-day trades a year ago, it is the long game.
“They can take the same player at 37 that they would have taken at 23,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said of the Patriots’ situation during Thursday night’s broadcast.
New England had invested first-round picks in wideout N’Keal Harry from Arizona State, tackle Isaiah Wynn and rusher Sony Michel from Georgia, and defensive tackle Malcom Brown from Texas over the previous five drafts.
In 2017 and 2016, however, no card was filled out by the organization until Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers at No. 83 overall and Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones at No. 60 overall.
Each draft is its own. And after one day of the 2020 iteration, New England stands with more options than it entered with.
How would you grade the Patriots’ trade-down from No. 23?
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