Patriots’ draft strategy sees huge benefits in second-round picks

AP Photo | Jason DeCrow

The New England Patriots’ organization has a knack for doing things differently, making things work that others often wouldn’t see.

So when the team traded backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers early this week, many others may have been shocked to see that all the Patriots got in return was a second-round pick.

But as history shows, New England may actually prefer second-round picks over first-round picks. With the one they acquired in the Jimmy G trade, the Patriots will have racked up 18 second-round picks in the ten drafts from 2009 through 2018, two more than any other franchise during that timeframe.

So why is this?

The dropoff in talent from first to second round is minimal compared to dropoff in size of those contracts. This means that the Patriots can get almost the same amount of talent out of second-rounders without sacrificing as much value – AKA money that New England can spend elsewhere. The difference between production and contract between the two rounds is even greater, especially when we see that second-round contracts are not fully guaranteed.

While the Patriots may have had some not-so-great second-round picks over Bill Belichick’s tenure, their strategy has worked very well in other circumstances.

New England cashed in on TE Rob Gronkowski (2010, #42), OT Matt Light (2001, #48), WR Deion Branch (2002, #65), LB Jamie Collins (2013, #52) and SS Patrick Chung (2009, #34) to name a few.

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