Art of the deal: Patriots trade down for McCourty

Art of the deal: Patriots trade down for McCourty
April 28, 2014, 12:45 pm
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(AP Images)

In an effort to better understand how the Patriots are willing to maneuver on draft day, we'll take a look at a few of the team's wheelings and dealings during the Bill Belichick era.

First up are the trades that helped the Patriots land Devin McCourty, Taylor Price and Aaron Hernandez in the 2010 draft.

Trade executed
The Patriots traded the No. 22 overall pick to Denver for the No. 24 pick and a fourth-rounder (No. 113).

Result
The Broncos used the No. 22 pick to select receiver Demariyus Thomas out of Georgia Tech. That fourth-round pick the Patriots acquired in the deal was used to select Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots traded the No. 24 pick.

Breakdown
This was Belichick's first trade down of the day. In a draft loaded with talent, the Patriots were willing to move out of the No. 22 spot to go down just two slots since it meant adding a fourth-rounder. The Broncos got a legitimate No. 1 receiver with size and top-end athleticism. The Patriots got a tight end who broke the mold in terms of on-the-field ability. Paired with 2010 second-round pick Rob Gronkowski, Hernandez would help re-shape how the NFL looked at the tight end position. Before Hernandez was arrested and incarcerated in 2013, his selection in the middle of the draft was a steal given his production in the first three years of his career.

Trade executed
The Patriots traded the No. 24 pick and a fourth-rounder (No. 119) to the Cowboys for the No. 27 pick and a third-rounder (No. 90).

Result
The Cowboys went for Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant with the No. 24 pick, who slid down into the late first round because of off-the-field concerns. The Patriots took Rutgers corner Devin McCourty at No. 27 and used the third-rounder on Ohio University receiver Taylor Price. The Cowboys took linebacker AJ Edds with No. 119 pick.

Breakdown
The Patriots traded down for a second time within the same round to nab a player the claimed was at the top of their draft board all along. McCourty came highly-regarded by Rutgers coach Greg Schiano as a versatile defender and a talented special teamer. He's proven to exhibit both in his first four years as a pro, earning All-Pro nods at both corner (2010) and safety (2013). He's also contributed to the kicking game in multiple facets.

Losing out on big-play receiving threats like Thomas and Bryant left a sour taste in the mouths of some fans, especially since the Patriots had spent plenty of capital -- draft and otherwise -- addressing the defensive backfield before McCourty's selection.
 
Terrence Wheatley (second round 2008) and Darius Butler (second round 2009) were on the roster, as were Leigh Bodden (re-signed early in the 2010 offseason) and Kyle Arrington (signed during the 2009 season). The team also used a first-round pick on Brandon Meriweather (2007) and a second-rounder on Patrick Chung (2009) to bolster the back end.
 
Looking back at it now, the McCourty pick was a valuable one considering how much more fluid the Patriots secondary could have been in recent years without him.

Big picture
The Patriots' maneuverings in the 2010 draft go to show that Bill Belichick is more than willing to deal down (more than once) if he knows he can still get his man and retrieve additional picks in the process.