clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bill Belichick the Wizard is back or: How to turn 1 draft pick into multiple impact players

Related: Patriots’ rookie class continues to defy its critics with promising outing against Browns

Patriots Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The New England Patriots are back, and the proof is in more than their play on the field.

It’s been a while since I have been able to write one of these, but the Patriots are also back making ridiculously lopsided trades. They made a great trade this past offseason that is already paying off, and they still have more assets coming.

Sitting at No. 21 overall in the first round of this year’s draft, New England swung a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, who took the pick off the Patriots’ hands, trading up from 29 to take Washington corner Trent McDuffie. The Patriots, of course, were later panned by the critics but the trade they made with Kansas City helped shape their rookie class — and thus their future for years to come.

To move up to the 21st pick, after all, the Chiefs traded not only 1-29, but also 3-94 and 4-121. A highly-touted QB ended up getting taken at 94, but not by the Patriots. The Patriots had traded back again, this time with the Carolina Panthers in return for pick 4-137 and a third-rounder in 2023.

For those keeping track, that is three picks in 2022 and a pick in 2023 for one selection. That alone might not be all that impressive. What is, though, is what they did with the picks.

Let’s take a closer look.

1-29 OG Cole Strange, Chattanooga: All Strange has done is come in as a Day 1 starter along the offensive line and hold his own in every game he has played in. He already looks like a solid player just six contests into his NFL career, and while it might not have been the sexy pick that everyone was clamoring for in the first round, the Patriots are a better team because they drafted him. If his early-season development is any indication, he will hold down the fort at left guard for a long time.

4-121 CB Jack Jones, Arizona State: How do you feel about electric, play-making cornerbacks? The Patriots let J.C. Jackson walk in free agency (who is struggling right now in Los Angeles but will almost certainly turn it around) , so they needed a corner that could flip field position by making some big plays. In walked Jones, who has already forced three turnovers in his young career, one of them an interception return for a touchdown. He has a long way to go before becoming a reliable starter-caliber player, but he has already been really good. Guys that can make game-breaking plays look easy are tough to find. Finding one in the fourth round was a steal for the Patriots.

4-137 QB Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky: Have you caught Zappe Fever yet? If you have, you can thank the Chiefs and Panthers for the draft pick the Patriots used to select him. Zappe is the first QB in the Super Bowl era to win his first two career starts and post a passer rating over 100-plus in each of them. Time will tell if this will be just a flash in the pan, or if he is going to a superstar in this league, but simply playing as well as he has in his first few games is already a pretty good early return on investment for the Patriots.

2023 third-rounder: The Panthers are without a doubt one of the five worst teams in football. They have already fired their coach, and just moved on from their No. 2 receiver, Robbie Anderson. The team is headed for a major rebuild, and that is great news for the Patriots. The pick they acquired from Carolina is almost guaranteed to end up a top-70 selection, with the first pick of the third round being No. 65. A pick from the end of the third for a pick from the beginning of the third to go along with the other players they got? Sounds pretty good to me.

So, there you have it. The Patriots moved down eight spots, and turned one selection into three good players, with a chance for a fourth (or even more if decide to do more trading next year) next year.

This is the type of trade Bill Belichick would make back during their dynastic run, and it appears he is back to his old tricks — winning games with his third-string quarterback, coaching one of the best defenses in the NFL, and fleecing teams on the trade market. Let this serve as a reminder of how great it is to be a Patriots fan.