Last week, I discussed NFL analyst Pat Kirwan’s mock draft, one of the first to feature predictions of the Patriots’ wheeling and dealing of draft picks. Earlier this week, Salvatore brought you Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks’ mock which also tries to predict Patriot pick-pocketing of draft picks through trades. I then followed up with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and his mock draft, also predicting a Patriot trade in the first round. Those mocks, it appears, were the first to open the floodgates of NFL analysts trying to predict not just who the Patriots will pick in the first round (and beyond in some cases), but also what pick they’ll trade and who they will trade with. NFL Network analysts Michael Lombardi and Charley Casserly are the latest to weigh in.
Lombardi’s latest article on NFL.com discusses wholly how the Patriots move around the draft and what determines when to move, when not to move, and how far to move on the draft board. Lombardi notes that the Patriots have players with similar draft grades, so when the Pats move back, they stay within range of those players so that they do not lose on a player with that particular grade. Therefore, they pick up more draft picks, a player that they could have drafted had they stood at their original spot, and maximized the value of that pick/player by lessening how much they will have to pay that player due to drafting him a few picks back.
Before they would agree to a trade, the Patriots calculated how far they can move down and still get a player of equal talent with their new pick. They will never make a move that takes them away from acquiring talent, therefore finding the right trade partner is equally important as what value they receive back in the trade. I can actually visualize a scenario in which the Patriots move from No. 28 to the mid 30s, and then move pick No. 33 to the low the 40s and end up with the same players they would have selected at Nos. 28 and 33.
Lombardi envisions a scenario where there will be so many teams wanting the Patriots’ 28th overall pick, that the value will be driven up and the Pats will get more than what the pick is actually valued at.
…there will be so many teams that want to acquire that 28th overall pick that the value of the pick will far exceed the old chart value. The 28th pick will be the auction pick, because many teams won’t want to leave Radio City on Thursday night without the player it deems the key to its draft.
Charley Casserly discusses in the video clip linked to above (click on his name) how the Patriots, whose first pick is #17, and the Chargers, who select right after the Pats at #18, could be jockeying to take a defensive end in the first round. Casserly has three 3-4 defensive ends with a mid-first round grade (J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, and Cameron Heyward), but if the Cowboys and/or the Redskins and Texans pick two out of those three players, the Chargers may try to leap frog the Pats to grab the remaining DE. If the Pats don’t want that to happen, they could move up and prevent the San Diego leap. Casserly also discusses how the Patriots’ first pick in Round 2, 33rd overall, will be a hot commodity for teams looking to move up and grab a QB.
I don’t envision the Pats making a move based on what San Diego might do. If they value one of those defensive ends highly and want to move up to grab him, similar to what they did when they moved up to draft Ty Warren, then they will do so. However, they will not get in a bidding war with the Chargers. If they do not have one of those players graded higher than where they’re picking, they will likely stand pat. If the player is available, they will draft him, and if not, they will pick a guy with a similar value or move back. There is too much depth at positions of need for the Pats to jockey with other teams to get one particular guy. If anything, the Pats’ position will likely force a team like the Chargers to give up too much and reach for a player they feel the Pats will pick.