Curran: Why the Patriots may trade down
DEPTH OF THE DRAFT
In February, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert described the 2014 draft class as the deepest in 30 years. Added former NFL scout and NFL.com draft expert Daniel Jeremiah, "This year's crop has both star power and depth. There will be a lot of first-year starters selected in the fourth and fifth round."
So as the Patriots sit there with the 29th overall pick, they can feel safe knowing they will get a very good player with, say, the 36th pick and possibly add a fourth-rounder who could still be a very good player to their team. Which means we should also be wary of the double trade-down.
CAPITALIZING ON DESPERATION
Let’s run the numbers on the quarterbacks. Seven of the first 11 teams selecting in the first round need a quarterback. There are four quarterbacks looking like first-rounders but it’s hard to look at any of them and say, “Yup, he’s gotta be a top 10 pick.” So many of those teams are going to take the best player on the board and hope to get the quarterback later. Which means the Patriots will be a prime team to court for anyone hoping to leapfrog the logjam of teams who’ll be seeking a quarterback at the top of the second round like Jimmy Garoppolo, A.J. McCarron or, perhaps, Teddy Bridgewater. Those teams that pass on QBs early will need to come out of the draft with a quarterback or endure the wrath and second-guessing that will ensue.
THE PATH TO THE TOP 10
The only way the Patriots are going to get into the top 10 in the foreseeable future is by trading into it. With this year’s draft so heavy with underclassmen, you can already see that the quality of the 2015 draft is taking a hit. The 29th pick in 2015 likely will be quite a bit less valuable than it is this draft. So you find a team – Houston, for instance – that would be willing to part with their first-round pick in 2015. Any guarantee that Houston will be bad enough in 2014 to ensure a top 10 pick? No. But the Patriots could be willing to take that risk, sending the 29th pick in exchange for the Texans 2013 second (33 overall) or third-rounder (65) and next season’s first-rounder.
THE PATS ARE ALREADY GOOD
As Nick Caserio pointed out during his predraft press conference, the Patriots could field a competitive team right now. Very competitive. The only hole they have is safety next to Devin McCourty. They don’t need a player to walk in from his college team and start in the fall. This draft, for the Patriots, could very well be about depth-building and finding diamonds in the rough like Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley who’s terrific but is coming off two ACL injuries. It puts the Patriots in a position of great strength going into Thursday.
THE PATS DON’T FALL IN LUST
While there are certainly players the Patriots would love to add in this draft class, it would be a rare exception if they are to exchange one player at 29 who they love if there are two they could obtain who they really like. The “value” part of the equation is always in New England’s mind at the draft and they can get great value if they find the right trade partner.