ESPN’s NFL insider Adam Schefter tweeted earlier today that the Patriots were among five other teams trying to trade up in the draft. The Eagles, Bills, Bengals, Titans, and Vikings are the other teams reportedly trying to move up. That news brings up some interesting questions. Where are they looking to move up to? Who are they targeting? Of course, the Pats could be simply doing their homework and sending out feelers to teams just to get a gage on what it would cost to move up should a certain player drop. However, there are indications that they may actually be looking to move up.
Patriots president Jonathon Kraft (son of Bob) was a guest on ESPN Boston’s radio program and he said some things that might lead one to believe that the Pats may actually trade up this year. Check out this quote, seemingly harmless at the surface:
“As we approach the draft with the core of our team probably in a better place in terms of certainty than any other team in the league and [having] 3 of the first 33 [picks] and 6 of the first 92, we can really afford to do whatever we think makes sense at the moment. That’s why I think this weekend will be very dynamic for us.”
With a solid core in place for the team, that allows the Patriots some more flexibility. They obviously do not feel like they have to build a core to the team anymore, so drafting a bunch of players, something they have done the last two drafts is no longer a necessity. This freedom allows them to move up and grab someone they feel will be an impact player (pass rusher finally?). They certainly have the ammunition to do so, and could move up relatively free of charge, if the scenario I detailed last week plays out.
Don’t think the Patriots target one guy? Bill Belichick would like you to believe that.
“I’ve never really gone into a draft saying we have to get a guy at this position, or that particular person. I don’t think that’s a very good way to go into a draft,” Belichick said in a conversation with ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss. “We’ll approach this the way we have the others — the best value for our team and all the factors that go into it.”
However, Jonathon Kraft let it slip that non-targeting is not always the case while he was defending the Patriots’ recent strategy of trading back.
“The last couple of drafts we’ve been able to do a good job of both getting players as well as stockpiling picks. If you have a lot of currency going into a draft and still feel certain about a guy … Like last year, Devin [McCourty] was our guy. We traded down a couple of times because we understood who was beneath us and we were willing to take a risk based on what we thought their needs were and who they had seen that Devin would still be there and would allow us to [trade down to get him and] stockpile [additional picks].
Whoops! If the Patriots have a new guy, what’s to stop them from moving up? Nothing really, as long as the guy is available where they’re comfortable moving up to. Is it Thursday yet?