The last time the Patriots lost a Super Bowl, they traded up in the following NFL Draft (twice) to select Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones. The two youngsters provided a much-needed injection of talent and playmaking ability to a defense that had hindered the team in 2011.
In the wake of the Pats’ Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, it is abundantly clear that the team is in similar need of an infusion of defensive talent. Because the team has some draft capital to play with, it makes sense to speculate that they may try to move up in the first round to get a premier defensive player. Let’s evaluate some potential trade partners for such a move, what it would take to accomplish, and which players the Patriots might target.
Potential trade partner 1: Miami Dolphins (11th overall)
Recommended trade: 31st pick, 43rd pick, and a 2019 2nd round pick for 11th pick and a 2019 4th round pick
Recommended target: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
As much as I would love for the Patriots to trade into the top 5 and get a player like Bradley Chubb, it’s very unlikely given the amount of draft chips that would be required to move up that far. Even moving up to 11th is a stretch, but the opportunity to draft a player like Edmunds will certainly tempt the normally frugal Bill Belichick. Edmunds will be just 19-years old when his name is called in April’s draft and is far from a finished product. His lack of a feel for the game will prevent him from being a three-down linebacker early on, but he can play on passing downs right away due to his ability in coverage. With veterans like Hightower, James Harrison, and Kyle Van Noy in the position room, New England is the perfect team to mold Edmunds’ unique physical gifts (6-5, 253 pounds, 4.54-second 40-yard dash, 34” arms) into the future all-pro he has the potential to be.
Potential trade partner 2: Seattle Seahawks (18th overall)
Recommended trade: 31st pick, 63rd pick, and 95th pick for 18th pick and 120th pick
Recommended target: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
The Seahawks have no picks between 18th and 120th, so this move makes sense for them too. As for Davenport, he’s a lot like Edmunds in terms of raw potential. In that regard, the New England front office may see him as their new Chandler Jones. He would probably not be a double-digit sack threat from day one, but he certainly could develop into one in the near future.
Potential trade partner 3: Carolina Panthers (24th overall)
Recommended trade: 31st pick and 43rd pick for 24th pick and 55th pick
Recommended target: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Patriots will probably have to leapfrog Tennessee, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans to nab Evans, the latest product of the Alabama linebacker pipeline. The Patriots tapped into the same pipeline when they traded up into the mid-20s for Hightower six years ago, so perhaps history is bound to repeat itself.