Patriots' only logical trade-down scenarios in 2024 Draft that make sense

Unless this is on tap, the strategy could fail miserably.

Quarterback Jayden Daniels 5 as the LSU Tigers take on Texas A&M in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge
Quarterback Jayden Daniels 5 as the LSU Tigers take on Texas A&M in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge / SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA

The New England Patriots and the rest of the NFL are fast approaching the first or second most important aspect of off-season team-building, depending on your approach to free agency. That would be the late April NFL draft extravaganza. The draft deserves all the hype and discussion it gets. It's that important to NFL teams.

For years, the Patriots were hamstrung by the former headman, Bill Belichick's bizarre approach to the draft, exposed by the great reporter Mike Reiss in 2020. A list as long as your proverbial arm, especially of second and third-round flops, players who should be starters or at least contributors, predominated.

Now, new de facto general manager Eliot Wolf, who was placed in charge of the most crucial offseason in decades for whatever incomprehensible reasons owner Robert Kraft had, is faced with drafting well or probably seeing the exit door a la Belichick himself. The opinion here is that Wolf has already flopped in free agency, and his only chance at personnel policy redemption will be the draft.

Kraft has already made abundantly clear that he wants a young quarterback around whom to build, and he wants one early in the draft, as with the third pick. Taking the long view is a path fraught with danger for Wolf's longevity. What the owner wants is what the GM should give him.

In this case, it's getting a top-three quarterback (Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels) or maybe the fourth on most lists, JJ McCarthy. Anyone else and Wolf is liable to lay a goose egg in the draft.

One trade down scenario that works

There is one fail-safe trade-down scenario that absolutely would work for Wolf, Kraft, and the New England Patriots. But Wolf will need help from other NFL teams to see it materialize. It could happen, however, and let's explore just how.

Depending on who keeps or trades picks, especially the Washington Commanders, who have the second pick overall, Wolf might be able to have his cake and eat it, too. You never know, but it looks likely that the Chicago Bears will take USC's terrific quarterback, Caleb Williams, with the first pick in the draft.

Next up would be the Washington Commanders. cites NFL Network's Tom Pelissero speculates that the Commanders will take a quarterback, but it won't be Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels but draft late-riser J.J. McCarthy from Michigan. This opens an opportunity or opportunities for Wolf and the Patriots.

Williams and McCarthy going one/two means that one of Daniels or Maye will be available at pick No. 4. Here's the opportunity. Should Wolf be equally enthralled with either Daniels or Maye (Daniels would be the pick here right at three), he could trade down if an offer arose to pick No. 4 currently held by the Arizona Cardinals. He'd then be guaranteed one of the top three quarterbacks and get additional draft capital from Arizona.

Speculation suggests the draft's top receiver, Marvin Harrison, Jr . may be on the Cardinals' radar. If so, they can guarantee to get him by trading up with New England. If two quarterbacks have gone one and two in this scenario, the Pats are still guaranteed to get either Maye or Daniels. But could it get even better? Indeed, it could.

How the Patriots could really hit big in the draft

Should the Commanders comply by taking McCarthy and Arizona subsequently take Harrison, then an even more optimal situation for Wolf and the Patriots could eventuate. Holding the fifth pick is the LA Chargers. With Justin Herbert in tow, they are not likely in the market for a QB, though there has been some speculation about trading him.

But with McCarthy, Harbaugh's Michigan QB, off the board, it seems less likely.

In this situation, the Pats could seek to trade down one spot with the Chargers if Harbaugh has his sights set on maybe one of the top offensive tackles, a receiver, or even tight end extraordinaire, Brock Bowers. If they do trade, and LA selects any position other than QB, the Patriots will win big, with both Daniels and Maye remaining on the board.

They then could consider trading down with the Giants to pick No. 6. Again, they would have to feel that either Maye or Daniels fits the bill because the Giants may very well be in play for a quarterback, themselves.

Should any or all of these unlikely scenarios unfold, Wolf would have stocked this year's and/or next year's drafts with more picks (2024 is preferred here) and still got that top-three quarterback for his team and his owner! If that quarterback turns out to be the one he wanted all along, he's hit the proverbial paydirt.

This whole cascade of possible trades-down may very well depend on whether or not the Commanders comply and take J.J. McCarthy with the second pick. If they do, all kinds of possibilities emerge for the Patriots, and the draft could cascade into a veritable windfall for them.

So there are some potential combinations and permutations that could lead to a massive draft bonanza for the New England Patriots and, in all likelihood, their best draft in years. You just never know how the chips may fall.

However, if the Commanders take either Maye or Daniels and not McCarthy, all bets are off. Then, the best choice for Eliot Wolf will just be to draft whichever top three QB is still on the board at three and move on to pick No. 34. It's the draft; anything can happen, and that's why it's so popular, especially when your team has the third overall pick!

More Patriots coverage: