Predicting what the New England Patriots will do in the first round of this year’s draft is near impossible. They could address one of their biggest needs such cornerback, offensive line or linebacker, or alternatively trade the pick in either direction.
Based on the current composition of the roster — it has several needs that have to be addressed — plus the depth of this year’s draft in the middle rounds, however, projecting the Patriots to trade down the board seems like a reasonable assumption. Sitting at No. 21 overall in the first round, there are a few teams that come to mind as potential trade partners.
Four clubs in particular should be seen as candidates to at least start exploratory talks with. Using Rich Hill’s updated value chart, let’s take a look at them.
Why would the Cowboys want to trade up? Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones was up-front about his team’s intentions to move up in the draft. With Dallas owning the 24th overall pick, the Patriots would not drop back too much while likely remaining in position to get some of the marquee talent available at this point in the draft — all while picking up additional draft ammunition in the middle round.
What would a trade look like? The Patriots sending their first- (1-21) and fourth-round (4-127) picks to Dallas in exchange for the Cowboys’ first- (1-24) and third-round selections (3-88) would be a fairly balanced trade for the two clubs. Of course, the value differential between the 21st and 24th overall pick might also be reached by simply acquiring Dallas’ fourth-rounder (4-129) plus one of the team’s extra fifth-rounders (5-155, 5-167, 5-176, 5-178).
Why would the Titans want to trade up? The Titans’ biggest needs include guard, wide receiver and possibly even quarterback. Picking 26th overall, they might want to get proactive in an attempt to leapfrog some teams targeting those same positions — including the O-line-needy Cowboys — or beat out others competing for trade-up spots.
What would a trade look like? The Patriots’ pick at No. 21 is worth 174.9 points on the value chart, compared to 143.2 points for No. 26. The difference can be made up by the Titans using their third-rounder (3-90) at a value of 37.6 points. The trade would favor New England, but teams moving up usually have to pay a bit more to get another club to move. The Patriots could throw in 6-183 to make the trade a bit more balanced on the chart.
Why would the Packers want to trade up? The Packers are picking one spot after the Patriots as well as at No. 28. Despite them owning two picks, moving up to the 21st spot is still an option. Why? Because it might allow the team to grab one of its preferred wide receiver targets and still add the top linebacker or edge rusher available at that point. Trading up would be safer than just waiting until picks 22 and 28.
What would a trade look like? If Green Bay wants to move up from 1-28 to 1-21, the value chart suggests the team uses its third-rounder (3-90) plus one of its fourths (4-140) to climb the board. The trade value would favor the Patriots a bit, but again: those moving up will have to pay a bit more than those moving down. Ultimately, though, the Packers might be the least realistic trade partner on this here list.
Why would the Chiefs want to trade up? Owning 12 total selections, including the 29th and 30th, the Chiefs have been calling teams all over the 20s to gauge the trade-up market. Needing help at wide receiver, cornerback and the defensive edge, they would be smart to use some of their capital to be aggressive; a dozen rookies making a deep Kansas City roster seems unlikely to begin with.
What would a trade look like? For the sake of the argument, let’s say the Chiefs trade the second of their back-to-back first-rounders; the difference between 1-21 and 1-30 is 52.9 points on the value chart — roughly the equivalent of the 72nd overall selection. Kansas City does not own that one, but maybe a package deal of 1-30 and 2-62 for 1-21 and 5-158 might do the trick; that move would give the Patriots four picks between No. 30 and No. 85 in the third round.