If the New England Patriots do uncharacteristically trade up in the first round of the NFL Draft, it would likely be for arguably the best edge rusher in the draft, Tyree Wilson, out of Texas Tech.
The Pats have communicated with Wilson multiple times and had a couple of pre-draft visits with the projected top-10 draft pick. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the Patriots have had two reported pre-draft visits, and they spoke with each other at the NFL Combine.
Wilson is currently projected to be selected within the first ten picks, making him out of New England’s range at 14th overall. However, he is arguably the best edge rusher in this draft, ranked second overall in the position group, only behind Will Anderson out of Alabama.
At 6’6” tall, 271 lbs, Wilson finished his career with 121 total tackles and 15.5 sacks. After watching the film on Wilson, I feel safe in saying that there are not many people stronger than him in this class, and he will be a handful for an offensive lineman in the NFL.
Wilson’s large frame allows him to control his explosion at the point of attack to read the play and decipher what’s going on. His 36-inch arms help him bench press lineman, and his 4.82 40-time shows that he’s quick and can get around the corner against slower matchups.
This move would be for both the immediate and the long term, as the Pats need to start thinking of the predecessor to Matt Judon, who’s entering his 31-year-old season. Drafting Wilson to play parallel to Judon would be ideal and almost certainly push Josh Uche to the next level, to where I believe he can be more impactful in the middle of the defense, stunting with a head of steam to him.
Wilson is versatile and can align in multiple spots in a 3-4 defense as he plays up and down on the line. That said, he could likely be a replacement for Lawrence Guy, who will be in his 33-year-old season, or give Deatrich Wise a run for his money as well.
The Patriots haven’t drafted a defensive end in the first round since Chandler Jones in 2012. They also drafted two defensive tackles in back-to-back years in 2014 and 2015, selecting Dominique Easley and Malcolm Brown.
It would be extremely rare to see Belichick trade up when he typically trades down to obtain more draft capital. When it comes to Wilson, however, he is a franchise cornerstone type of player.