The Patriots didn’t exactly crush the free agency portion of the offseason.
But, as Bill Belichick said last week at the NFL owners meetings, it’s March (well, April now). There’s still plenty of time before the team plays games and there’s one big portion of the offseason to come — the NFL draft.
Given their lack of moves so far, the Patriots will need to make some big moves via the draft.
In order to do this, they will need to get multiple impact players and obviously the higher the pick, the more likely it is to hit. By winning the Super Bowl, they will select No. 32 overall and that may not be high enough to land the true impact player they hope to get.
This is where the Patriots will need to get creative.
With 12 total picks and six in the first 101, they have the ability to trade up, which is a scenario that very well could play out. Tight end is certainly a position that needs to be addressed, and there’s a stud duel-threat player out of Iowa in T.J. Hockenson who is likely on the Patriots’ radar.
If he were to fall to the late-teens, this is where the Patriots could make their move and there are teams in that range who could be willing trade partners including the Giants (No. 17), Titans (No. 19) and Seahawks (No. 24). What would it cost? The draft pick value chart says it would likely take their selection at No. 32 plus a second and a third-round pick.
That seems like something they would be willing to do.
In addition to making sure they get as many impact players as possible via the draft, there’s also an opportunity to trade picks for a player like last year when before Day 2 the team acquired Trent Brown from San Francisco.
Potential positions that could get addressed this route are wide receiver and defensive end. It feels like proven veterans are needed, especially at receiver given what Tom Brady currently has to work with and it being tough to rely on wide outs selected in the draft to make immediate impacts.
Teams are seemingly more apt to make trades around the draft, so this could be the Patriots’ chance to steal a player potentially entering the last year of his deal and pay off like the deal for Brown did last year.
Lastly, the Patriots are always one of the most active teams during the draft in trading selections and this year should be no different. With 12 selections, it’s very unlikely all of them will be used, so it is up to Belichick and Co. to do what they can with them to get the most out of them.
This could go a number of different ways.
Some picks could be traded to move up like previously mentioned, and not just in the first round. With four seventh-round picks, maybe it’s worth packaging two of them to move up into the sixth round. Or maybe it’s worth packaging multiple third-rounders to get into the second round.
Perhaps, it is worth looking into dealing a pick or two away this year to get a second or third-round pick next year. This is how the Patriots got No. 56 overall this year — a trade with the Bears during the draft least year.
The theme of the offseason to this point has been departures, but the draft is the Patriots’ chance to change that and bring in some quality players.
It just won’t be as straight forward as it looks.
It never is.