The New England Patriots’ 2020 draft was quintessential Bill Belichick, and a big reason for this assessment is the team’s willingness to swing trades. The Patriots set the tone as early as the first round, when they decided to trade down from the 23rd overall selection to acquire more ammunition on Day Two. Between the second and seventh rounds, four more trades followed to make the Patriots one of the most active teams when it comes to moving around capital to maximize its value.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at the moves by comparing their value — using five different value charts, including the one created by Pats Pulpit’s own Rich Hill — as well as who the Patriots eventually ended up picking and, by design, missing out on.
(The non-Rich Hill value charts used were created by ex-NFL head caoch Jimmy Johnson, Chase Stuart of Football Perspective, Kevin Meers of Harvard Sports Analysis, and Jason Fitzgerald and Brad Spielberger of Over The Cap)
Trade 1: 2-37 and 3-71 from Los Angeles Chargers for 1-23
- Rich Hill: -14.89
- Jimmy Johnson: +5
- Chase Stuart: +11.1
- Kevin Meers: +60.8
- Jason Fitzgerald/Brad Spielberger: +3,421
- Patriots: used 2-37 to draft S Kyle Dugger; used 3-71 to trade up for LB Josh Uche (2-60)
- Chargers: used 1-23 to draft LB Kenneth Murray
The Patriots appeared to be willing to pull the trigger on LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson had he become available, but with the Minnesota Vikings picking up 22nd overall New England decided to move down the board. The team missed out on Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray in the trade-down but did pick up the 37th and 71st selections in the process, gaining value in four of the five draft value charts.
Trade 2: 2-60 and 4-129 from Baltimore Ravens for 3-71 and 3-98
- Rich Hill: +1.42
- Jimmy Johnson: 0
- Chase Stuart: -3
- Kevin Meers: -9.1
- Jason Fitzgerald/Brad Spielberger: -54
- Patriots: used 2-60 to draft LB Josh Uche; used 4-129 to trade up for TE Dalton Keene (3-101)
- Ravens: used 3-71 to draft DT Justin Madubuike; used 3-98 to draft LB Malik Harrison
New England moved back up the board again on Day Two of the draft, the first of four trade-ups made by the team. In this particular scenario, it sent two third-rounders to Baltimore in return for the 60th and the 129th overall selections. While the Patriots received better value out of the trade in just one of the five charts and also later saw Baltimore choose a pair of players who were projected as fits in New England, the two selections received eventually helped the team bolster its defensive edge and, indirectly, tight end position.
Trade 3: 3-91 and 5-159 from Las Vegas Raiders for 3-100, 4-139 and 5-172
- Rich Hill: -4.8
- Jimmy Johnson: +4.7
- Chase Stuart: -2.1
- Kevin Meers: -56.2
- Jason Fitzgerald/Brad Spielberger: -411
- Patriots: used 3-91 to draft TE Devin Asiasi; used 5-159 to draft K Justin Rohrwasser
- Raiders: used 3-100 to draft LB Tanner Muse; used 4-139 to draft CB Amik Robertson; used 5-172 to trade up for G John Simpson (4-109)
With the exception of Jimmy Johnson’s chart, the Patriots’ trade-up with the Raiders to select Devin Asiasi resulted in a loss of value on the charts. That said, New England did manage to get two players out of the return that are projected to play a big role on the roster in 2020 and beyond: Asiasi might very well become the Patriots’ number one tight end this year, with Justin Rohrwasser currently on his way to take over Stephen Gostkowski’s former job.
Trade 4: 3-101 from New York Jets for 4-125, 4-129 and 2021 6th-round pick
- Rich Hill: -4.32
- Jimmy Johnson: +6
- Chase Stuart: -2.4
- Kevin Meers: -59
- Jason Fitzgerald/Brad Spielberger: -429
- Patriots: used 3-101 to draft TE Dalton Keene
- Jets: used 4-125 to draft QB James Morgan; used 4-129 to draft OT Cameron Clark
Just 10 picks after trading up in the third round, the Patriots moved again — this time up to the 101st overall selection to draft quarterback Dalton Keene as a complementary piece to Asiasi. The trade itself is not just similar because of the position targeted, but also that only Jimmy Johnson’s chart sees it as a move that gained value from New England’s point of view. That said, the 2021 sixth-round pick included in the transaction did not factor into the calculations above. What is noteworthy is that one of the players picked by the Jets in the return of the trade, was seen as a possible Patriots target: Florida International quarterback James Morgan.
Trade 5: 6-182 from Indianapolis Colts for 6-212 and 6-213
- Rich Hill: -0.08
- Jimmy Johnson: +5.2
- Chase Stuart: +0.5
- Kevin Meers: -23.2
- Jason Fitzgerald/Brad Spielberger: -205
- Patriots: used 6-182 to draft G Michael Onwenu
- Colts: used 6-212 to draft WR Dezmon Patmon; used 6-213 to draft LB Jordan Glasgow
The Patriots’ final trade of the draft was the most controversial in terms of value: while Jimmy Johnson’s and Chase Stuart’s charts have New England gaining value points in the process of making the move, the others have a different opinion. Of course moving up in the sixth round does not necessarily have to be a bad move even when ranked negatively on the value chart: there are only so many roster spots available and pick-worthy targets on a draft board.