The 2011 NFL Draft is finally here, and depending on how the court proceedings shake out, this could be the last real bit of NFL news for a while. Hopefully that’s not the case. For those of you that may not know, the first round of the draft begins at 8 p.m. EST, with the second round commencing tomorrow at 6 p.m. EST and rounds three through seven getting underway Saturday at 12 p.m. EST. Without further ado, I present to you my final prediction as to what the Patriots will do tonight, and I guarantee it will be hailed as masterful manipulation of the draft board by The Hooded One.
With the 10th selection of the NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select North Carolina DE Robert Quinn.
“Huh? Dude, the Patriots pick 17th overall…” I’m aware, but hear me out here. Unfortunately for the Washington Redskins, a team hoping to somehow land Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert, they can’t work a trade up higher to grab him and he doesn’t fall, landing with either Arizona, San Francisco, or Tennessee. The Redskins are a team with multiple needs but few picks, so they trade back with the Patriots. At 17th overall, the Skins can be assured of getting their #2 guy, Washington QB Jake Locker. To move up to #10, the Patriots trade their 17th overall pick, their second pick of Round Two (60th overall), and their fourth round selection (125th overall). You can see how I put this package together by viewing the Draft Pick Value Chart HERE.
Robert Quinn would project to play OLB in the Patriots’ 3-4 defense. He would immediately provide the team with an outside pass rushing threat that’s been missing since Mike Vrabel was traded away. He would not have to start immediately in the base defense but would be a regular in sub packages. Due to the league becoming a passing league, the Patriots (as well as other teams) are in sub-package defenses more and more often, so while Quinn learned the base defense, he could still see significant playing time and make an immediate impact. The fact that he falls to this spot puts him in the right spot for the Pats to trade up. If the Patriots don’t move up, he will likely be picked by either Houston at #11 or Minnesota at #12, so it’s trade to #10 or miss out.
The Patriots already have a solid roster, so stocking it with a bunch of young players does not benefit the team. There are only so many roster spots, and the team would risk becoming too young. This pick allows the Pats to finally cash in some of those chips they’ve accumulated from year after year of trading back for an impact player at a position of need. Don’t forget, Robert Quinn has already worn a “Patriots” jersey, so to speak. But we’re not done…
The Patriots trade out of the 28th overall pick.
There are going to be several teams looking to jump back into the first round late to grab one of the remaining quarterbacks. These teams do not want to chance waiting for the second round to begin, or having to get into the bidding war that will likely be going on throughout the night and following morning for the first pick of the second round, also owned by the Pats. The Patriots have two packages that they could take for this pick. They could do a straight swap for the other team’s first round pick next year, which would be a great move. This would give the Pats two first rounders yet again next year, and would likely be in a better position than 28th overall because the Pats’ trade partner would probably be struggling with a rookie passer during the ensuing season. This would also lessen the amount of young players the Pats would be adding this year to an already young roster.
The second package the Pats would likely take would be for the other team’s 2011 second-round pick and that team’s 2012 second-round pick. Again, the Patriots accumulate picks for next year’s draft. In this scenario, they would also sort of recoup the second round pick that they gave up to move to 10th overall. Of course, it would not be the same pick, however it would most likely be an even better pick. The Patriots could then continue to work their trading magic in the second round if they wished with two picks to play with.
What do you think? I truly believe that this will be the year that we finally see Belichick cash in his chips and make a big upward move in the draft.
Be sure to stop in and follow Musket Fire’s draft coverage throughout the rest of today and tonight and take part in the FanSided Live Chat, which you can access here at Musket Fire.