|Vince Wilfork is merely one of many Patriots stars acquired by trading down in the draft|
The obvious advantage of trading back in the draft is bringing in extra draft picks. This accomplishes more than simply giving the teams more chances to pick players, it gives them maximum flexibility to maneuver around the draft board. Bill Belichick is famous for this kind of trade, and he's used them for all kinds of purposes: acquiring extra draft currency to cash in later and move up to get their guy, stocking themselves for next year, or simply adding more picks because the team is low on selections.
Lets take a look at the Patriots history of trading back in the draft under Belichick. Note: I decided to include trades that involved the Patriots getting a future pick, even one in a higher round, in this piece. The spirit of the move is the same; the Pats giving up a current pick for more picks down the road.
2001 saw the Patriots trade back, acquiring picks which they later used as ammo to trade back up. Specifically, the Pats swapped second rounders with the Steelers, moving back from 39 to 50 and picking up an extra fourth (112) in the process. They would move up from both slots, sending their 50th pick and a sixth rounder (173, Jason Glenn) to the Lions for the right to jump up to spots to 48 and select their left tackle of the future, Purdue's Matt Light. Detroit for their part took C Dominic Raiola at 50. The Pats would go on to package the 112th pick with a fifth rounder (139, Zeke Moreno) to the Chargers, moving up to the first pick of the fourth round (96), where they selected another offensive tackle, South Florida's Kenyatta Jones. Jones showed potential, starting 11 games in 2002, but legal trouble abruptly ended his time with the team. The Chargers would take LB Carlos Polk with the 112th pick, while the Steelers took LB Kendrell Bell with the Pats original 39th pick.
This was one of four instances the rebuilding Pats traded back in 2001, but it was the only noteworthy one in hindsight. The Pats were better equipped to move up in the fourth round because they had picked up an extra fourth (119, Jabari Holloway) in a trade with Minnesota that moved them back from the 69th (CB Eric Kelly) to the 86th (Brock Williams) pick in the third round. They also traded again with the Lions, sending a fifth rounder (149, Mike McMahon) over for sixth (180, Arthur Love) and seventh round picks (216, Owen Pochman). Finally, they traded a sixth rounder (170, Chad Ward) to Jacksonville for a 2002 fifth rounder (144), a pick that would later be used in a trade up to select LSU QB Rohan Davey.
2002 was an aggressive draft for the Pats that saw them trade back only once, sending a fifth rounder (168, Ralph Hunter) to Dallas for a sixth (237, Antoine Womack) and 2003 fifth (140). This move is only noteworthy because that 140th pick would be included in a 2003 trade, sending a third (81, Derrick Dockery) and that fifth rounder (140, Derek Pagel) to the Redskins in exchange for a third (75) and fourth round pick (104). The Patriots would put both picks to good use, including that third rounder (75, Seth Wand) in a move to trade up and select Illinois DB Eugene Wilson, and trading the fourth rounder to Chicago for NT Ted Washington. Interestingly enough, the Bears wound up sending that 104th pick to San Francisco, who used it to select a nose tackle themselves in Isaac Sopoaga.
|Long-time starting center Dan Koppen was a fifth round pick|
They weren't done either. After sending OT Greg Robinson-Randle to the Texans for a fifth round pick, the Patriots flipped that pick (154, Donnie Nickey) and a seventh (225, Todd Williams) to the Titans in exchange for fifth (164), sixth (201) and seventh round picks (243). The Patriots missed on the sixth (QB Kliff Klingsbury) and seventh rounders (DT Ethan Kelly), but they hit a home run on the fifth rounder, finding a long-time starting center in BC's Dan Koppen.
After 2004 came and went without a trade back, the Pats were back in action in 2005. Their first significant move was a trade out of the second round, sending the 64th pick to the Ravens for a third (84), sixth (195) and 2006 third (75). The Ravens took OT Adam Terry, while the Patriots spent the 84th pick on CB Ellis Hobbs. The 2006 third was sent to Green Bay next year as part of a regrettable (to put it lightly) trade up to select Florida WR Chad Jackson, and Green Bay used it on C Jason Spitz.
The Pats weren't done wheeling and dealing, sending that sixth rounder (195, Craig Bragg) to Green Bay along with a seventh rounder (246 Will Whitaker) to move up 20 spots to the 175th pick. They then managed to flip that pick (Anttaj Hawthorne) to the Raiders for a seventh rounder (230) and a 2006 fifth (136). The 2006 fifth round pick looked like the big pickup from this trade, but it was spent on Cal OT Ryan O'Callaghan, who never developed in New England. However, that seventh rounder turned into QB Matt Cassell, who wound up leading the Pats to 11-5 season in 2008 when Tom Brady went down with a torn ACL.
Finally, the 2005 draft saw the Pats make a move aimed at next year, trading their fifth (145, Dan Orlovsky) and sixth round picks (206, Johnathan Goddard) to Detroit in exchange for a 2006 fourth rounder (106). This trade looked good in principle, but the Patriots wound up spending that pick on HB Garrett Mills, who never was able to translate his pass catching skills into making an impact in the NFL.
|The Patriots got in position to take Mayo thanks to a 2007 trade down|
The Patriots entered this draft with two first rounders, courtesy of the Deion Branch trade. They wound up keeping the Seahawks pick and taking S Brandon Meriweather at 24, but were willing to make a deal at 28 with their own pick when San Francisco came calling. The following was a fascinating trade that both teams would likely make again: New England sending the 28th pick to San Francisco in exchange for a fourth rounder (110) and 2008 first. San Francisco scored with the pick, securing a Pro Bowl LT in Joe Staley. However, the Patriots arguably did even better, as that Niners 2008 first rounder wound up being the seventh pick in the draft. The Patriots would use that pick to move back to 10 overall, selecting LB Jerod Mayo. As for the fourth rounder thrown into the deal? It was dealt to Oakland for WR Randy Moss.
The Patriots other trade back this year was understandably anti-climatic after such a blockbuster deal. The Pats traded their third rounder (91, Mario Henderson) to Oakland in exchange for a seventh (211, Oscar Lua) and 2008 third (69), a pick that would be swapped again next year for a 2009 second rounder.
The Patriots were stripped of their first round pick in 2008 as a result of the Spygate scandal, but they had San Francisco's first rounder in hand as a result of the prior year's trade. This set the Patriots up with their first top 10 pick since 2001, when they had taken Georgia's Richard Seymour sixth overall. The Pats opted to move down in a trade with the Saints, sending the 7th pick and a fifth rounder (164) over for the 10th pick and a third rounder (78). The Patriots won the deal in the first round, landing the guy they wanted all along in Tennessee LB Jerod Mayo, while the Saints swung and missed on USC DT Sedrick Ellis at 7 overall. However, the Saints did make up for it a little bit by landing Pro Bowl G Carl Nicks in the fifth round, while the Patriots blew the third rounder on Michigan LB Shawn Crable.
The Pats weren't done moving, sending the third rounder (69, Jacob Hester) acquired last year from Oakland to San Diego for a fifth rounder (160) and 2009 second rounder (47). For those of you keeping score at home, the Pats had turned the 91st pick in 2007 into the 47th pick in 2009 through two trades, brilliant moves at the time...until that 47th pick (eventually used by Oakland on S Mike Mitchell) was including in a 2009 trade up to select BC DT Ron Brace.
A saving grace to that trade? They packaged that 2008 fifth rounder (160, QB Josh Johnson) with a seventh (238, Cory Boyd) to move up in the fifth to 153 and draft Pro Bowl special teams captain Matthew Slater.
|Passing on Matthews was a bad oversight on the Pats part|
2009 was a draft the Patriots would largely like to forget. It started with the first round, where the Patriots started with the 23rd pick. They were happy to trade back when Baltimore called, sending them 23rd pick (Michael Oher) while moving back three spots to 26 and picking up a fifth rounder (162). Not content there, they traded back once again, sending those two picks to Green Bay in exchange for two third rounders (73, 83) and a second rounder (41). The move would look bad anyway, considering Green Bay landed USC LB Clay Matthews with that 26th pick, but it looks even worse considering the Pats swung and missed on both UConn CB Darius Butler (41) and UNC WR Brandon Tate (83).
The saving grace was what the Pats accomplished with that 73rd pick. When Jacksonville called, the Patriots jumped at the chance to make a deal, sending that third rounder their way in exchange for a seventh (232) and 2010 second rounder (44). Jacksonville took CB Derek Cox, while the Patriots took a little known Kent State QB named Julian Edelman with the seventh rounder. They then used that 44th pick the following year to move up two spots and land TE Rob Gronkowski.
The Patriots traded out of their own third round pick as well, sending the 89th pick (TE Jared Cook) to Tennessee in exchange for a 2010 second (47). Keep reading for the expansive travels of that 47th pick.
2010 was a fascinating draft for the Patriots, starting with another pair of trades down in the first round. They started by trading with then Denver head coach Josh McDaniels, moving down from 22 to 24 and picking up a fourth rounder (113, Aaron Hernandez) in the process. Denver did well with their move, selecting WR Demaryius Thomas at 22. A much better pick than the one they made three spots later, when they drafted Florida QB Tim Tebow.
The Patriots weren't done there, as they traded the 24th pick to Dallas for the 27th pick and a third rounder (90). Dallas took WR Dez Bryant at 24, while the Patriots landed Rutgers CB Devin McCourty at 27 and took WR Taylor Price in the third round. Despite the success of both receivers taken with picks the Patriots originally had, this series of moves originally looked like a big win for the Patriots...until Hernandez very suddenly became very unavailable to the team last summer. The returns from these deals looks less impressive now, although they can hang their hats on McCourty blossoming into one of the league's best safeties.
The Pats then continued their wheeling and dealing, making a pair of trades down the board again in the second round. Remember that 47th pick acquired the previous year from Tennessee? The Pats sent that pick to Arizona in exchange for second (58) and third round picks (89) round picks. The Cardinals took LB Darryl Washington at 47, while the Pats made another deal, sending the 58th pick to Houston for another second (62) and a fifth rounder (150). Houston took RB Ben Tate at 58, while the Patriots landed Florida LB Brandon Spikes at 62 and P Zoltan Mesko in the fifth round.
The Patriots had one other move up their sleeves, sending the third rounder (89, Armanti Edwards) acquired from Arizona to Carolina in exchange for a 2011 second rounder. This move looked great when Carolina bottomed out to the league's worst record, making it the 33rd pick in the draft. It looks less great in hindsight, as the Patriots spent it on CB Ras-I Dowling, who was never healthy long enough to realize his tantalizing potential in New England.
Another year, another trade down in the first round. This time, the Patriots traded out of the first round entirely, sending the 28th pick to New Orleans for a second (56) and 2012 first rounder (27). It's a move that looks like a slam dunk in hindsight: the Patriots used the second rounder on Cal RB Shane Vereen and used the first rounder to trade up the following year and land Syracuse DE Chandler Jones. The Saints took Alabama RB Mark Ingram, fresh off of a Heisman trophy season, but Ingram hasn't made the kind of impact the team expected of him since.
|Who would you rather have: Ridley and Vereen, or Mark Ingram?|
The Pats made yet another move back with their third rounder (92, Jon Barksdale), packaging it with a fourth (125, Taiwan Jones) and sending it to Oakland for a seventh (219, Malcolm Williams) and 2012 second round pick (48). It's another move that looks great on paper, as the Pats managed to move up 48 draft slots in value, but the Pats blew the pick with the questionable selection of S Tavon Wilson.
Finally, the Patriots and Eagles swapped fifth round picks (193 and 194), reportedly just for funsies. Neither team landed anyone noteworthy with the picks: the Eagles took LB Brian Rolle and the Pats got DE Markell Carter.
2012 will be remembered for the Patriots trading up twice in the first round to select Chandler Jones and Donta Hightower, but they bolstered their depth with a pair of trades down the board. It started with their second round pick (62) which the Pats sent to Green Bay for a third (90) and fifth rounder (163). Taken at face value, this looks like an awful trade: the Pack landed a solid corner in Casey Hayward, the Pats got a third round bust in Arkansas DE Jake Bequette.
However, the Pats made amends somewhat by sending that fifth rounder (163, Terrell Manning) back to Green Bay for a sixth (197) and two seventh rounders (224, 235). New England then hit on two of those three picks, landing rugby convert/special teams ace Nate Ebner in the sixth round and starting CB Alfonzo Dennard with the 224th pick (the other seventh was used on WR Jeremy Ebert).
The Patriots entered the 2013 draft with an uncharacteristically low five draft picks. They quickly changed this by sending the 29th pick to Minnesota, getting second (52), third (83), fourth (102) and seventh round picks (229) in return. The Vikings took Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson, who showed glimpses of his tantalizing talent as a rookie.
However, the Patriots got a tantalizing prospect of their own in the second round with LB Jamie Collins, who improved throughout the year before exploding with a huge game in the playoffs against Indianapolis. They also got major contributions from their third rounder, Rutgers CB Logan Ryan, who stepped up and played well when Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington were all struggling with injuries. The jury is still out on fourth round WR Josh Boyce, who had a very quiet rookie year after falling behind fellow rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins on the depth chart.
Finally, the Pats also put that seventh rounder to good use, sending it to Tampa Bay along with KR Jeff Demps in exchange for RB LeGarrette Blount. Blount resurrected his stagnant career with a nice season in New England, one he recently parlayed into a two year deal with the Steelers.
Be sure to check back tomorrow, when I look at the Pats history of trading draft picks for established players. From the good (Randy Moss), the bad (Isaac Sopoaga) and the ugly (Duane Starks, ugh), there's a lot to look over.