The New England Patriots and their bounty of early-round picks (six of the top 92) have the potential to have a large say in how the beginning of the draft plays out this year. Bill Belichick has the draft booty to move up to virtually any spot he wants, down, stockpile for next year, or simply stay put and snag several top prospects. If there is a single player that Belichick falls in love with and feels will make a huge impact on the team, and will likely be gone by the time the team selects at 17th overall, he can put together a package of picks and move up to grab him. Let’s face it. There are only so many spots on the roster, and even fewer for rookies to play and make an impact, especially with all the picks the team has made the past couple of years. The likelihood that Belichick uses all six early-round picks on players is pretty unlikely, so now seems to make sense more than ever for the team to move up and grab a marquee player.
Where things could really get interesting, as NFL.com analyst Pat Kirwan points out, is at the Pats’ second first-round pick, which is 28th overall. This is a spot, along with the first pick of Round Two, which the Pats also hold, that could be hot for teams trying to move up and grab a QB before Day Two begins. Kirwan notes:
Say a team like the Seahawks decide to draft (Jake) Locker — or (Ryan) Mallett, for that matter – making him the third QB off the board, teams are going to look at the Patriots’ No. 28 spot as the right place to get the QB they want before the draft’s first night adjourns. Teams will get nervous about waiting overnight, knowing that teams will work the phones trying to move up. Take a look at the teams near the top of round two that need a quarterback, and it’s easy to see the Patriots getting flooded with calls.
Between Buffalo (No. 34), Cincinnati (35), Arizona (38), Tennessee (39), Washington (41), and Minnesota (43), they won’t all be out of the QB sweepstakes by the time the first round winds down. To move up from a high second-round pick to the Patriots’ 28th spot won’t be that expensive if a team really wants a certain guy.
Kirwan then goes on to point out that according to the draft value chart, teams would likely have to give up their second-round pick and their third-round pick, or a pick similar to those in next year’s draft, in order to move up to 28 or 33. What I think Kirwan neglects is the fact that Belichick can start playing teams off of each other and begin a bidding war for the Pats’ pick. This would increase the bounty the Pats would get in a trade and once again make Belichick look like the draft’s master manipulator.
The only real shocking thing on draft day would be the Patriots staying put and using all six early-round picks. Up or down, the Patriots will move around the draft board, and likely come away from this draft with quality players, perhaps some future draft picks, and some NFL personnel guys scratching their heads saying, “How did that happen again?”