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Trades make this year’s draft look very different in New England

Super Bowl LII - New England Patriots Media Availability

BLOOMINGTON, MN - JANUARY 30: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots speaks with the press during the New England Patriots Media Availability during Super Bowl LII week at the Mall of America on January 30, 2018 in Bloomington, Minnesota.The New England Patriots will face the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII on February 4th. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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In the last couple of years, the Patriots have not had high draft picks. This year will be much different.

In 2016, New England forfeited its first-round pick because of Deflategate and moved down from the second-round pick it received in the Chandler Jones trade to acquire more picks in the later rounds. New England’s first pick that year was No. 60 overall.

In 2017, New England sent its first-round pick to New Orleans for Brandin Cooks and sent its second-round pick to Carolina for Kony Ealy. New England’s first pick that year was No. 83 overall.

This chart shows just how strikingly different the Patriots’ draft capital in recent years has been from other teams. In the last three drafts, the Patriots have had exactly one pick in the Top 59. Every other team in the NFL has had at least four, while most teams have had six or more.

This year, the Patriots have changed their approach. New England just acquired the 23rd overall pick by trading Cooks to the Rams, and New England still has its own first-round pick, No. 31 overall. The Patriots also have the 43rd overall pick from the 49ers, acquired in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, and the Patriots still have their own second-round pick, No. 63 overall.

That means the Patriots can stockpile their roster with young, cheap talent after getting older and more expensive in recent years. There’s been some talk that the Patriots might make a move to draft Tom Brady’s successor, but Brady is surely hoping they’ll instead use those picks to replace departures like Cooks, wide receiver Danny Amendola and left tackle Nate Solder. With those picks, the Patriots can try to put their roster over the top to win Super Bowl No. 6 with Brady.