1. When it comes to the NFL Draft and the Patriots, the biggest question is whether or not they will trade into the top 10 and select a quarterback. In the weeks and months leading up to the draft there have been a few trades involving teams moving into the top 10, so come Thursday if the Patriots have not swung a deal, some fans might get frustrated that there’s no chance of a trade up happening. But, think again. In the last five years, there have been four trades that have occurred during Round 1 where a team moves up to the No. 10 pick or higher. In 2019, Pittsburgh traded to No. 10 overall to select linebacker Devin Bush. The year prior Buffalo moved up to No. 7 and grabbed Josh Allen. In 2017, the Bears slid all the way up to No. 2 to pick Mitchell Trubisky and then in 2016 Cleveland traded up to No. 8 where it picked offensive tackle Jack Conklin. Draft night trades do happen and clearly they can involve top 10 picks. Relating to the Patriots and this year, it would seem if they move up to No. 4 and trade with Atlanta that would happen before the draft, but if a quarterback (or even another player) they prefer falls to the Nos. 7-12 range, don’t rule out Bill Belichick getting on the phone and trying to make a deal. While a lot of trades involving the top picks in the draft happen well before names start being called, it doesn’t mean come Thursday night the Patriots, or any other team, won’t be able to trade into the top 10.
2. While the Patriots have big needs like quarterback, wide receiver and cornerback, it could be argued that every position on the roster is a need besides punter and long snapper. While an edge player doesn’t seem like a need, it could be argued with Chase Winovich and Kyle Van Noy not being locks for 2-3 years down the line, a young player could be added. The same goes for running back. The position is set for this year, but who knows what it will look like in a year or two. Belichick has drafted for future years plenty in the past and he could very well do it again this year.
3. This year’s draft is unique for several reasons, including the few number of prospects declaring for it. Because of the pandemic, more and more players are staying in school. Roughly 650 players have declared, compared to close to 2,000 last year. This will have an impact on the later rounds, according to NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “We had so many kids go back to school,” he said on a video conference with reporters this week. “That's what's going to impact the bottom half of the draft. That's why everybody that I talk to around the league just says, we don't know what the heck we're going to do with out sixth and seventh-round picks. If I can get rid of them I'm going to get rid of them just because next year's class, those sixth and seventh-round picks are going to be really valuable.”
4. One thing on the NFL calendar coming up is the deadline to pick up fifth-year options, which is May 3. For the Patriots, they need to make decisions on Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel. It feels like it’s much more likely for Wynn than Michel, as the running back probably won’t draw a ton of interest as a free agent and if the Patriots want to bring him back they will be able to next offseason with ease. Keep an eye on what the Patriots do at offensive tackle in the draft as it relates to Wynn. If one is selected high, it could mean Wynn won’t have the option picked up. But if one isn’t, it may make a lot of sense for the Patriots to pick Wynn’s option up and guarantee him at least another year in New England.
5. Tom Brady and Belichick were in the news together this week as both are against the new single-digit jersey number rule, which allows anybody but offensive and defensive linemen to wear numbers 1-19, including linebackers and defensive backs. Brady’s argument was it could lead to bad football since players won’t know who they can and cannot block. Belichick has always seemed to have a thing agains jersey numbers, like over the summer when he gives rookies numbers starting at No. 50. This feels like something the two are on an island over and it isn’t a big deal.
6. There hasn’t been much chatter when it comes to N’Keal Harry and a potential trade of late, but that could change this week as the draft approaches. From a Patriots perspective, they likely would be open to a trade with any team that wants him. He certainly is a player to watch over the next week, as it’s no guarantee he remains a member of the Patriots after this week.
7. It will be interesting to see if we learn who is in the Patriots’ “war room” this year. Does Matt Patricia immediately gain access? What about Eliot Wolf and Matt Groh, who Belichick praised publicly during his pre-draft video conference? It does seem likely Dave Ziegler along with Josh McDaniels will be there, but the others could offer another glimpse into how Nick Caserio is being replaced.