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Revisiting the Patriots’ 2022 draft-day trades one year later

New England made several moves last April.

New England Patriots v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The New England Patriots have never shied away from being active on draft day. With the exception of 2021, when they made just one trade, they have moved up and down the board several times in each of their recent drafts.

Last year’s event was no exception. Bill Belichick and company were involved in four total moves: they traded back in Rounds 1, 3 and 5 and up in Round 2. What happened with the capital they gained, and how did the teams they traded with invest?

With one year to look back on, we can now give a more representative assessment than would have been possible in April 2022. So, let’s do just that.

Round 1

1-21 to Kansas City Chiefs for 1-29, 3-94 and 4-121: Despite several potential draft targets such as cornerbacks Trent McDuffie or Kaiir Elam still being on the board, the Patriots decided to swap picks with the Chiefs and move back in Round 1. Kansas City gave up three selections in what was a fair exchange, per colleague Rich Hill’s draft value chart: New England gained 180.9 value points compared to the Chiefs’ 174.9.

The Patriots did find a way to repurpose their added capital quite successfully.

The first of those three picks was invested right away, with guard Cole Strange coming aboard. While his rookie campaign had its ups and downs, the surprising first-round selection started all 17 games at left guard and showed his developmental potential; he is a realistic candidate to make the famous Year 2 jump in 2023 and form one of the NFL’s better guard duos opposite Michael Onwenu.

The third- and fourth-round picks brought in were invested differently. The first of those was later traded to Carolina — more on that in a second — while the second was used to bring cornerback Jack Jones in. Before a late-season injury and team-issued suspension, Jones saw action in 13 games and registered three takeaways; the expectation is that he will compete for a starting spot in New England’s secondary in 2023.

As far as the Chiefs were concerned, they ended up picking the aforementioned McDuffie at No. 21 overall. Despite missing six games early in the year due to injury, he ended up starting 14 contests — including Kansas City’s win in Super Bowl LVII.

Even in hindsight one can therefore say the trade worked out well for both teams.

Round 2

2-54 and 5-158 to Kansas City Chiefs for 2-50: The Patriots and the Chiefs again exchanged selections on Day 2 of last year’s draft. This time, New England moved up the board: giving up 82.7 value points, they sent second- and fifth-round draft choices to Kansas City in exchange for pick No. 50 (which is valued at 80.1 points).

The Patriots made the move up the board to draft a wide receiver: the speedy Tyquan Thornton was brought in, and he showed some promise as a rookie. However, he was far from a regular contributor and ended up playing half of the team’s offensive snaps. A rotational WR3/WR4 by season’s end, he touched the ball 25 times in 13 games for 263 yards and three scores. The hope is that he will turn into a more prominent piece of the puzzle with one year of experience under his belt.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, used their two picks on offensive help as well: No. 54 was invested in wideout Skyy Moore (19 games, 32 touches, 298 yards, 1 touchdown), while No. 158 was packaged in a trade-up to select offensive tackle Darian Kinnard (1 game, 6 special teams snaps) in Round 5.

Round 3

3-94 to Carolina Panthers for 4-137 and 2023 3-76: As mentioned above, the Patriots used one of the picks they received via their first-round trade-down in a follow-up move. This one featured the Panthers, who sent two selections the Patriots’ way in order to move up to No. 94 in the third round.

Carolina ended up drafting quarterback Matt Corral, who has yet to appear in an NFL game and will be pushed down the depth chart with the Panthers adding a new QB first overall later this month. Not making things any better for the team, the picks it sent to New England have also turned out quite nicely.

The 2022 fourth-rounder was turned into quarterback Bailey Zappe; he started two games as a rookie and had some promising moments. He currently projects as New England’s QB2 behind starter Mac Jones.

As for the second selection picked up through this trade, it stands at No. 76 overall in this year’s draft. Given that draft picks are not valued the same when it comes to future years, comparing the teams’ gains on the chart is a somewhat tricky endeavor. That said, the trade did look favorable from New England’s perspective last April and that has not changed one year later.

Round 5

5-170 to Houston Texans for 6-183 and 7-245: Another relatively even trade on the value chart (5.9 points gained vs. 6.3 lost) saw the Patriots move down on Day 3 to pick up extra ammunition in the sixth and seventh rounds. Those two selections were turned into actual players, even though their impact in 2022 was limited.

The first of those picks became running back Kevin Harris. A depth option throughout his rookie season, he carried the ball 18 times for 52 yards and a touchdown in five games. Harris will compete for a roster spot and backup role behind New England’s current RB1, Rhamondre Stevenson, this summer.

The seventh-rounder picked up through the trade with Houston was turned into offensive tackle Andrew Stueber. The Michigan product missed virtually all of 2022 after suffering a torn hamstring in the offseason. With New England’s depth chart at the position one big question mark at the moment, though, the youngster will get an opportunity to compete for playing time and a roster spot in 2023.