The Patriots could use a home run in the draft. Should they sacrifice at-bats to ensure they hit one?
What could they do if they, say, pulled a Saints and traded their entire draft? What if they traded their first three picks?
The idea sounds extreme given that the Patriots have so many needs, but if you’re holding out hope for a Justin Fields or, less realistically, Zach Wilson, there’s at least an argument to be made for coming away with their guy and little else.
Using the Rich Hill draft pick value chart, which is a more modern and accurate tool than the old Jimmy Johnson model, we can at least estimate what packaging their picks could get the Patriots. We’ll have to project all picks after the first two rounds, as the number of compensation picks in each round will throw off where, say, the 15th pick of the fifth round might fall. We’ll also project which comp picks the Patriots will have, which can be found on overthecap.com.
Here are the Patriots’ projected picks. To estimate the picks after the first two rounds, we’ll just go with where they fell last year. So to stick with the 15th pick of the fifth round example, we’ll look at where that fell last year, which was 161st overall.
1. 15th overall - 315 points
2. 46th overall - 128 points
3. Comp pick (Brady) - estimated 39 points
4. Assigned pick - estimated 23 points
4. Comp pick (Van Noy) - estimated 13 points
4. Comp pick (Collins) - estimated 13 points
5. Assigned pick - estimated 9 points
6. Cowboys pick - estimated 5 points
6. Assigned pick - estimated 4 points
7. Assigned pick - estimated 2 points
7. Comp pick - estimated 1 point
7. Comp pick - estimated 1 point
Using those estimations, let’s party:
Would you trade the entire draft for the third overall pick?
At this point, all of the Patriots’ picks added up can be ballparked at 553 points. The No. 3 overall pick is worth 514 points on the value chart, meaning the Pats would be overpaying by 39 points, or roughly a compensatory third-rounder. Considering the Dolphins currently hold that pick, let’s call it a tax for a divisional opponent possibly giving you a quarterback.
This is whacky and highly unlikely, but it would be a scenario worth exploring under one condition: Zach Wilson being available. If the Patriots traded their entire draft but came away with a blue-chipper at the most important position on the field, they could live with that. They’d probably stink for another year because there wouldn’t be much around him, but they could go all-in on their surrounding Wilson with weapons next year.
Otherwise? Nah. If Wilson and Trevor Lawrence were off the board, the Patriots’ best options would be Justin Fields, Trey Lance and tight end Kyle Pitts. Punting on the rest of the draft completely would be too much to pay for them.
Would you trade the Patriots’ first four picks for the fourth overall pick?
Now it’s getting intriguing. First of all, this scenario would be more plausible given that the Falcons would be a more likely trade partner than the Dolphins. Furthermore, this would allow the Pats to get one of the aforementioned leftovers — Fields, Lance or Pitts — and still be able to make mid-round picks if they wanted.
We can ballpark the Pats’ first four picks at 505 points, with the fourth overall pick being worth 491. I’d still pass. Wilson won’t be there and the Falcons would probably just take Fields themselves if he were there, so you’d be talking about reaching for Trey Lance or trading a massive haul for someone who doesn’t throw the football.
Would you trade the Patriots’ first three picks for the fifth overall pick?
Maaaaaybe! The Patriots’ first three picks can be estimated to be 482 points. That could perhaps get them No. 5, which is worth 468 points.
Is this too much for Lance? I think so, but if the Patriots see him as The Guy and he’s still on the board, they could fear the next four picks (Eagles, Lions, Panthers, Broncos) all provide potential landing spots for the quarterback.
I’d begrudgingly avoid doing this for Pitts, even though I think he’s an absolute stud.
Would you trade the Patriots’ first two picks for the seventh overall pick?
New England’s first two picks equal 443 points. Rich Hill’s chart says that could get them into the top 10 and as high as No. 7, which is worth 426 points.
This I’d do. If they’re available, Lance answers the quarterback question and Pitts or Jaylen Waddle give you a star on offense. Phil Perry’s brought this up: There’s a good chance a star pass-catcher falls to No. 15, but that pick is also seemingly right on the edge of where the top prospects will go. If the Pats stand, well, pat, there’s a chance those top receivers — Ja’Marr Chase, Waddle, Devonta Smith — and Pitts are gone.
Which would bring me to this question I’ll ask while ducking…
Would you trade the Patriots’ first-round pick to the Jaguars for Nos. 33 and 45?
Don’t hate me, but if I were Bill Belichick and didn’t plan on trading up, I’d at least see what Urban Meyer thought of this scenario. The Jaguars have sooooo many premium picks (four of the first 45, including two first-rounders), so if they want to consolidate in the name of star power, the Pats would be a logical trade partner.
There’s two schools of thought the Pats could have when it comes to trading up/down. On one hand, they’re bereft of stars. Moving up gets them one. They also have so many holes that throwing more darts early gives them a chance of adequately addressing their roster’s needs.
I mentioned the top pass-catchers. If Pitts, Chase, Waddle and Smith are all gone, perhaps a star defensive player (Micah Parsons?) falls to them. Or, if they do this trade with Jacksonville, they could have Nos. 33, 45 and 46. It’s tempting.
Let’s say they do that. They could come away with a tight end (Pat Frieiermuth) a receiver (Terrace Marshall) and an offensive lineman (pick one; there will be tons of quality tackles in that part of the draft). That’s not a bad scenario at all.
We know Bill Belichick likes to maneuver up and down the draft board, and there’s more ways of doing it than are outlined here. If he likes one of those top prospects enough, he could always package No. 15 with next year’s first and get into the top 10. Whatever he does, this draft will help tell the story of whether the Pats can retool on the fly or if they’re in for a long rebuild.