Sunday 7: Patriots exploring options with trading up in NFL draft


1. Right now, the Patriots will not select until No. 32 overall in the NFL draft, but don’t be surprised if that were to change. According to a source, the Patriots have had preliminary discussions about trading up in the first round. This isn’t really unusual for this time of year as teams run through frameworks of potential deals to prepare for draft night as things tend to move very quickly come the night of the draft. The source indicated the Patriots are looking at the 15-20 range. If the Patriots were to do this, using the draft pick value chart, it would likely take their first-round pick (No. 32), a second-round pick (No. 64) and a third-round pick (No. 101). Considering their lack of moves in free agency, perhaps a big splash via the draft is needed, especially when it comes to replacing Rob Gronkowski. The two best tight ends in the draft — Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant — likely will be off the board by the time pick No. 32 rolls around, so trading up would be their only way to land one of them. Potential teams to keep an eye on for trades are: Giants (No. 17), Titans (No. 19) and Seahawks (No. 21). This doesn’t mean anything is a done deal, or even close to being done, it just means it’s a possibility and something to keep an eye on.

2. As it relates to Hockenson and Fant, after speaking with The Athletic’s Scott Dochterman who covers Iowa football on The Not Sunday podcast, we feel even more strongly that Hockenson would be the better fit for New England. He’s more of a duel-threat tight end, while Fant is more of a receiving tight end. In addition, from a personality standpoint Hockenson seems to fit the Patriots culture more so than Fant. One of the things Dochterman pointed out was Hockenson’s hands, and how he can’t remember a pass he dropped during his entire Iowa career. In two years at the school, he finished with 73 receptions for 1,080 yards and nine touchdowns. Meanwhile, in three years, Fant totaled 78 catches for 1,083 yards and 19 touchdowns.

3. Also relating to potential trades, with 12 overall selections and then undrafted rookies, there just isn’t enough space on the roster for all these rookies. This makes it even more certain the team will be making trades with draft picks so they don’t come away with 12 players. This could be moving up, trading picks for players, or even trading picks this year for picks next year.

4. When it comes to the Patriots selecting a quarterback, the more and more it seems like if they do it won’t be until late in the draft. As a whole, a lot of quarterbacks are rising up draft boards and there becomes a point where the value just isn’t there for the Patriots given their other needs and also a down year for the position. From what it seems, there’s the potential for a big run on quarterbacks in the first round.

5. The Patriots Hall of Fame committee met this week and voted on the three finalists which will be revealed in the near future and then fans will have the chance to vote on the 2019 inductee. From this viewpoint, the finalists should be Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel and Rodney Harrison. It’s pretty straight forward, but it’s how it should be. One of the biggest debates not only this year, but in the years to come will be Randy Moss. Obviously, he’s one of the most dominant players to ever play the game, but his time in New England wasn’t as long as others and he did not win a Super Bowl.

6. Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne wrote a fascinating piece on the Aaron Rodgers-Mike McCarthy dynamic in Green Bay, including the tensions and battles between the two. It also shed some light on how Rodgers and McCarthy are individually, which wasn’t much better. McCarthy sometimes got massages instead of attending meetings, and Rodgers was very hard on young receivers, often making it tough for them to fit in. Reading this makes you appreciate Bill Belichick and Tom Brady and what they have been able to do for a much longer period of time. It is worth the read.

7. There will be some football news (we hope) this week, as Belichick will hold a pre-draft press conference Wednesday morning at Gillette Stadium. In previous years, director of player personnel Nick Caserio has spoken at it, but this will be the second straight year of Belichick. After not really giving much at all when speaking at the coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meetings, maybe being in a familiar place at Gillette Stadium will have him open up a bit more.