New England Patriots: Trade up or Trade Down in First Round?

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
New England Patriots /


One position that has been mocked to the New England Patriots consistently has been at offensive tackle as starting left tackle Nate Solder and back-up tackle Cameron Fleming left for greener pastures. New England traded a 2017 third round and fourth round draft pick in order to move up to number 85 overall last year to grab Troy tackle Tony Garcia. Garcia, however, missed all of 2017 due to blood clots in his lungs and the position remains unsettled despite the team re-signing LaAdrian Waddle and getting Marcus Cannon back from injury.

A tackle who should not be slept on in training camp is Cole Croston. The big undrafted free agent from Iowa made the team and was kept on the active 53-man roster rather than risk losing him to waivers getting him to the practice squad. At six-foot-three and 315 pounds, the Kirk Ferentz alum joins former Iowa tackle Matt Tobin and Ferentz’s son James on the offensive line giving New England three former Hawkeyes.

Another position of need is at linebacker. Linebacker and defensive captain Dont’a Hightower was put on injured reserve after leaving in the second half of game seven against Atlanta. While Kyle Van Noy was a solid contributor, second year linebacker Elandon Roberts was picked on repeatedly by opposing offenses in the passing game and running game.

New England also needs to find a young quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett both traded away after training camp last year. Brian Hoyer is the only back-up to 40 year old Tom Brady right now. A young quarterback should be on the agenda in this draft or next year.

The New England Patriots also is getting long in the tooth at safety. Jordan Richards–a second round draft pick in 2015–has been a washout contributing only on special teams. New England carries Brandon King and Nate Ebner, but they are special teams players and safeties in name only. However, the Patriots are investing almost $20 million in cap space in 2018 and over $20 million in 2019 to their top three veteran safeties (per

With the uncertainty of young slot cornerbacks Jonathan Jones (leg injury ended his season in the Divisional Playoff round) and Cyrus Jones (the 2016 second round draft pick spent 2017 on injured reserve with a torn ACL and meniscus suffered in the preseason) there is a need at cornerback as well. Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty are a solid veteran one-two punch but depth is needed as Eric Rowe has been injury prone.

A name to watch in training camp at cornerback is 2017 undrafted free agent Ryan Lewis from Pitt. The Patriots paid him a full salary on the practice squad to keep him from leaving for Buffalo during the season. He is uber-athletic (sub 4.40 40-yard dash, sub 6.90 3-cone drill) but is just five-foot-eleven.