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Trading Down From 32 and Up From 64

Could the Patriots position themselves with two high 2nd rd selections?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

All offseason, I've heard that the draft is pretty even in the 25-50 range with a substantial drop-off after that. With that in mind, the Patriots could be looking to obtain more value out of the draft. So how would they be able to do that? The Patriots own the 32nd, 64th, 96th, 97th, 101st, 131st, 178th, 219th, and 253rd selections of the 2015 NFL Draft. 97 and 253 are not tradable since they were compensatory picks for losing Aqib Talib and Dane Fletcher last offseason. That leaves the Patriots free to package their other picks in a trade.

Based off historical precedence, a move from 32 into the 40s would likely net the Patriots a 3rd round pick. I'm basing this off the trades for Dont'a Hightower (31 and 126 for 25) and Cordarrelle Patterson (52, 83, 102, and 216 for 29). Teams in that range that could be trade up partners are the Browns, Falcons, 49ers, and Vikings. After dropping into the 40s and presumably getting a 3rd rd pick in the 70s range, the Patriots now have two 2nd rd picks and three 3rd rd picks. The Patriots still have 3 picks in the 96-101 range, so it's possible they package at least one of those picks to move up in the 2nd round from the 64th pick. If the Patriots can package picks 96 and 101 with 64 to a team dissatisfied with their draft board in the 40s, the Patriots could end up with another pick in that range. The Vikings trade from 2013 is another good reference for figuring out the value those three picks would net. Since the Vikings traded up from 52 to 29, the sense is the Patriots could move up from 64 to 41 in a similar trade package. The Patriots would still hold a pick in the 70s and the 97th selection, so that move doesn't kill their draft.

So which players would I expect to be on the board in the 40s? These are the players I'd consider drafting in that range.

  • Xavier Cooper, DT, Washington State
  • Preston Smith, DL, Mississippi State
  • Mario Edwards, DL, Florida State
  • Cedric Ogbuehi, T/G, Texas A&M
  • Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
  • Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (OH)
  • Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State
  • Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
  • Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Most of those guys can contribute to NFL teams this year (aside from Ogbuehi) and have the size and athleticism the Patriots like. Cooper can be a plug and play starter at the 3-tech, but would likely be in a rotation with Easley to keep both guys fresh. Smith and Edwards are power DEs that can also play inside on passing downs. Ogbuehi is a versatile OL talent who is a candidate for LT, LG, RG, or RT for the Patriots. Stephone Anthony is a very athletic linebacker that is good against the run and has solid coverage skills. Quinten Rollins is a newcomer to football, but the skills needed to defend point guards in basketball are transferrable to the CB position. Lockett is a great route runner that creates separation with routes and speed who would be a great consolation prize if the Patriots are unable to land Nelson Agholor. Coleman would be an upgrade from Tyler Gaffney, LeGarrette Blount, and Jonas Gray as an inside the tackles runner although the Patriots may redshirt him in Year 1 anyway. Ameer Abdullah is a quick and shifty WR who is naturally going to be pegged to the 3rd down role. From those guys, the Patriots have a lot of options to choose from.

The benefit of trading down from 32 and trading up from 64 into the 40s is the team can get two talents of the same caliber added to the team. Since the difference between 32 and 50 is small and the difference between 50 and 64 is larger, that should create more value for the team than just sitting there. That allows the Patriots to satisfy two needs in the draft and improve their position in the 3rd round for the cost of a high 4th round pick. That's nearly creating something out of nothing and the type of move we'd expect Bill Belichick to make this year given the perceived makeup of the draft and the talent distribution. As we all know, Belichick will zag when we expect him to zig and this article holds zero weight in BB's mind when the draft starts tomorrow. What the Patriots do in the draft will depend on how their draft board shapes up.