Time to play.
No team over the last two decades has been more willing to tweak their draft position via trade than Bill Belichick’s Patriots, and it’d come as no surprise if they chose to do exactly that on Friday night.
With five picks in all after a trade out of Round 1 — one second-rounder and four thirds — Belichick and Nick Caserio have all the ammo they need to move up the board to capitalize on the depth of talent that will be available through the second round and potentially into the third.
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Here are three trade-up opportunities that could be there for New England:
Some trade-up possibilities for the Patriots, who have four third-round picks at the moment. These shake out as even deals per the @PP_Rich_Hill trade chart.— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) April 24, 2020
No. 71 + 87 = 50 (CHI)
No. 71 + 100 = 55 (BAL)
No. 87 + 100 = 62 (GB)
Handful of ways to get a second second-rounder...
Each is intriguing in its own right. But let’s take the juiciest of all — landing No. 50 to get into the middle of the second round — and try to compile an ideal Patriots haul of Day 2.
No. 37: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
One of the top defensive backs in the draft, McKinney may simply be a victim of his position’s value across the league. Corners are where the money is spent. But McKinney is so versatile, he’s going to a priceless add for some defensive coordinator tonight.
Want to play him at the linebacker level and defend the run? He’s game. Want to play him deep? He’s not a burner, but he’s athletic and instinctive enough. Need someone to check backs and tight ends in coverage? He may be the best in the class. For a team that values players who can do more, who produced in the SEC, and who will take tough coaching because they’re accustomed to it, McKinney would be a steal here.
No. 50: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
He’s the best at his position in a draft class that isn’t exactly loaded with tight end talent. So what? He’s still a starting caliber player, and the Patriots are team whose offense was done in at times in 2019 because of its inability to get productive snaps — in the run or pass games — from its tight ends. At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, with good hands and explosive vertical athleticism (4.70-second 40), he’ll be a seam-stresser for Josh McDaniels.
He’ll also be an ideal character fit as someone who’s a grinder and natural leader. He was a two-sport athlete (baseball) for the Irish and a double-major whose GPA hovered around 3.5. Focused full-time on football now, his best days are ahead of him.
No. 98: Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming
Perhaps the smartest inside linebacker prospect in the class, according to one NFL source, Wilson seems like a Patriots type. A four-year starter for the Cowboys and a three-year captain, Wilson was named first-team All-MWC and a third-team All-American for his work last season (104 tackles, three picks). Size? At 6-2, 241, it’s good enough. "I don't think he's getting out of the second day," Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy told the Next Pats Podcast. "I don't think he's getting out of the third. Could be the late second. An off-the-ball guy who can really run. Very athletic.”
How athletic? Wilson’s 4.63 40 time put him in the 82nd percentile of linebackers. His 1.54 10-second split was remarkable (98th percentile). And his 121-inch broad indicated that he's got an explosive lower half. That athleticism showed up oftentimes as a blitzer in college, where he racked up 51 pressures on 229 pass-rush snaps, per Pro Football Focus. His presence in the middle might allow Dont’a Hightower to see more time on the edge, addressing two front-seven spots with one pick.
No. 100: Matt Peart, OT, UConn
Peart is not the fleetest of foot. His three-cone time at the combine (8.06 seconds) left a lot to be desired, but he remains a top-end athlete at the position with a 5.06-second 40 (88th percentile), a 10-yard split of 1.75 seconds (90th) and a 113-inch broad jump. Those are good numbers for any tackle. Now consider the UConn captain is the longest lineman in the class with 37-inch arms and as a 87-inch wingspan — his 26 bench reps (72nd percentile) are impressive given how far that weight had to move — and you have a certified freak on your hands.
The Governors Academy (Mass.) product played two years at left tackle and two years at right tackle, giving him the kind of positional versatility the Patriots covet. Plus, he played under Randy Edsall, who's coached a number of former Patriots during his days at both UConn and Maryland. In Peart, the Patriots should have a 2020 swing tackle and a 2021 starter.
* They land the top safety and tight in the draft, according to many evaluators. Not bad. Nick Caserio hinted Thursday night that some positions have gone untouched after raids on receivers, corners, tackles and quarterbacks, leaving very good players available at other spots. Tight end and safety have gone untouched.
* No receiver. (Deep class. Maybe try a guy in the fourth.)
* No quarterback. (The Patriots miss out on Jalen Hurts, which stings because that would’ve been a fun pick. But they have multiple holes to fill. Smart to build around the quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, and if it doesn’t go well? Get a top-flight one next year.)
* Missing out on these guys is tough, but I think they’re all top-50 picks: Marlon Davidson, Josh Jones, Denzel Mims, Justin Madubuike, Michael Pittman