It’s a unique position for the Patriots to be looking ahead to the NFL draft in mid-January, but that’s precisely where they’ve found themselves again this year. Similarly to the 2021 draft, where they drafted Mac Jones at 15th overall, they currently possess the 14th pick, the highest selection since 2008.
Because they made their intentions clear last week with the release of their uncharacteristic memo, the offense will presumably be the focus of the offseason. Although a lot can happen between now and then, improving the roster through the draft should already be on Bill Belichick’s and Robert Kraft’s minds.
Before comp picks are officially awarded, the Patriots hold a good amount of draft capital totaling eight picks. That number will grow to eleven once they receive compensatory picks, which are awarded after the season’s conclusion. But even with a hefty number of selections, several are not in an advantageous position, as five are in round six or seven.
- Round 1: 14th
- Round 2: 46th
- Round 3: 77th (via Carolina)
- Round 4: TBD (via Los Angeles)
- Round 4: TBD
- Round 4: TBD (compensatory)
- Round 6: TBD (via Las Vegas)
- Round 6: TBD (via Carolina)
- Round 6: TBD
- Round 6: TBD (compensatory)
- Round 7: TBD (compensatory)
Despite the unfavorable number of lower-round picks, the sheer amount Belichick will have to work with could become an incredible asset come days two and three of the draft.
With so many offensive needs, especially on the o-line, the 14th pick provides Belichick with far more options than last year. We’ll likely see another Cole Strange selection at that spot, but with a much different reaction this time. A trade-up seems improbable, but don’t assume Belichick won’t do the traditional trade-back scenario he is known for.
This opens the door for trades, particularly in prime rounds two through four. Since they’ll be loaded with so many picks from day two on, this is where the Patriots should trade up. Although it’s reported they’ll have a good amount of cap space to spend in free agency, Belichick can snag some top-tier talent with pre-draft or day of trades. Setting the team up for long-term success with players on rookie contracts is a benefit to all, especially as the head coach is likely nearing retirement in the next few years.
We’ve seen the failed experiment done by the Rams to load up with incredibly talented and expensive veterans in exchange for draft picks, which is not something the Patriots should follow. Instead, use the draft picks for trade-ups and possibly trade for a receiver in free agency, but nothing more.