Patterns emerge in Pats' draft-day trade plans

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Patterns emerge in Pats' draft-day trade plans

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Ty Warren. OK? I got Ty Warren right in 2003. And I also had a verr-rry strong hunch about Daniel Graham and I mentioned likely interest in Logan Mankins. So when people say, "Nobody knows what the Patriots are going to do on draft day," that's not exactly right. Because this guy (me), eight years ago? I knew. Enough of that, though. As much as I'm convinced Cam Jordan is a wonderful fit for the Patriots, I'd have to look at my track record and say I'm usually wrong. But what I do know is the Patriots will trade, trade, trade their fool faces off Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the NFL Draft. Look at last year's draft day summary. They took one player with an assigned pick (Jermaine Cunningham, 53rd overall). It's fascinating to look at the Patriots' history of draft trades and see the patterns that have developed. Let's stick with the first two rounds in this investigation. TRADING UPNew Englandhasn't traded up in the first round since 2003 when they moved from 14 to 13 in a deal with Chicago so they could take Warren. The Patriots also had to throw in a sixth-rounder to get that done. Why would they trade up one spot? Because other teams were trying to jump ahead of New England and the presumed target of those teams was Warren. They also traded up in 2002, going from 32 to 21 to get Graham. In that deal with Washington, they had to give up 32, a third-rounder and a sixth-rounder. The Patriots frequently trade up in the second round, though, when the pickings on the shelves are getting thinner. In 2010, they figured Rob Gronkowski had been on the board past his value even though he missed his final year at Arizona and moved up two spots to get him at 42. They sentOakland 44 and a sixth-rounder.In 2009, they really wanted Ron Brace. So they dealt with Oakland to get the 40th pick and sent the Raiders 47, a fourth-rounder and a sixth-rounder. In 2006, they moved up 16 spots to get Chad Jackson at 36. They sent Green Bay the 52nd pick and a third-rounder. And 52 became standout receiver Greg Jennings. In 2003, the Patriots made a nice move in the second, going from 41 to 36 to get Eugene Wilson. They swapped fourth-rounders with Houston to sweeten that deal. Also in 2003, they dealt with the Texans again, going from 50 to 45 to get Bethel Johnson and sending along a fourth-rounder for Houston's trouble. What's the pattern reveal? That when the Patriots covet a player, they will be aggressivein trying to move up. That they really seem to value the players in the top-40 or so. And that their second-round trade-ups have beenOK but not great(and Gronkowski helped move that grade higher). TRADE DOWNSThis, of course, is where the Patriots really play the league like a violin. They capitalize on the desperation of other clubs to stock up for future years and still get the players they love who are - quite often - not as high on anyone else's draft board. And 2010 may have been their best draft in this regard. They traded out from 22 with Denver and took the Broncos 24th and 113th picks (113 became Aaron Hernandez). Then they took 24 and traded it to Dallas for 27 overall (Devin McCourty) and also took a third-rounder from Dallas in exchange for 119 overall (119 was kind of obsolete after they got 113). And 119 became Taylor Price (the jury remains out). So they turned the 22nd pick into three different players (McCourty, Hernandez and Price) and only moved down five spots. That was cleaning up on Denver's desire for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and Dallas' desire for Dez Bryant. The second round was even more amazing. First, they took their 47th pick and sent it to Arizona for picks 58 and 89.They then traded out at 58 in exchange for 62 and 150. The Patriots then took Brandon Spikes at 62 and Zoltan Mesko at 150. And the 89th pick? They capitalized on Carolina's desire to get QBWR Armanti Edwards at that spot and exchanged 89 for a second-round pick in the 2011 draft which wound up being the 33rd overall. Good as last year was, 2009 seemed like the Patriotsspun their wheels with trades down. They went from 23 to 26 in a deal with the Ravens. The Pats also added 162. The Ravens took Michael Oher at 23The Pats then traded out of the first round with Green Bay, sending 26 and 162 to the Packers (Green Bay took Clay Matthews) and gaining a second-rounder and two third-rounders. They turned the second rounder into Darius Butler (41 overall) and used one of the thirds on Brandon Tate. In 2008, the Patriots made a nice move going from No. 7 overall (fleeced from the 49ers in 2007) to No. 10, taking Jerod Mayo at 10 and and also turning a fifth-rounder into a third-rounder (Shawn Crable) in the same deal as a pot-sweetener from New Orleans. From this we can gather two things. The Patriots can either feast on the anxiety of other teams or capitalize on their own disinterest in spending a pick at the spot they're in. TRADE OUTSThis is where the Patriots stock up for the future. We already mentioned the trade out in the third round last year that got them the 33rd pick this year. There were two third-round trade outs in 2009 that got them second-rounders in 2010 (which got flipped in amid other deals that are too hard to rehash). The best trade outs the Patriots executed in which they turned the exchanged pickdirectly into players and not bargaining chips were 2007 and 2003. In 2007, they sent their 28th pick (!) to the Niners in exchange for the Niners 2008 first-rounder ANDa 2007 fourth-rounder. The Niners pick turned into Mayo. In 2003, the Ravens wanted Kyle Boller. So they made a reasonable deal, handing the Pats No. 41 to take the Pats first-rounder at 19. Baltimore also threw in their 2004 first rounder and that turned out to be Vince Wilfork in 2004. When you think about it, trade outs can only by made by coaches and personnel people who are supremely confident and secure. What coach wants to stock a team with future picks if he's worried about job security? Bill Belichick hasn't had to worry about that for a while. And, as a result, he can deal with confidence not worrying about what the owner, the fans or the media have to say. Because in the end, Belichick and the Patriots win a lot more often than they lose at the end of April.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Bean: The 2007 Patriots don't get nearly enough love

Bean: The 2007 Patriots don't get nearly enough love

Phil Perry has been running a series on the 2007 Patriots vs. the 2017 Patriots. He breaks everything down position-by-position and compares what should go down as two of the best teams in franchise history. It’s really good stuff. 

Also, a lot of people are idiots. 

    For some reason -- and it’s either because they’re rightfully excited for the upcoming team or because they’re still shell-shocked by 18-1 -- the 2007 Patriots have been shown a remarkable lack of love when it’s come to the reader votes. It’s insane. 

    2007 PATRIOTS vs. 2017 PATRIOTS:

    And before you start with the “This is Boston and it only counts if you win” nonsense, remember that the 2017 team hasn’t done a thing yet, so by saying the 2017 Pats are better than the 2007 Pats, you’re saying the then-greatest offense of all time is worse than a current work in progress.

    As if anyone should need the reminder, the 2007 Patriots rank as the No. 2 scoring team ever, and at the time they were No. 1. Their 36.8 points a game was dwarfed only by the 2013 Broncos, who averaged 37.9. Then again, the Patriots have four of the top 12 scoring teams ever, so there’s no reason to rule out what should be a loaded 2017 group registering high on that list as well. 

    But back to the ’07 team for a second. At the time of this writing, a poll of over 3,300 readers had 67 percent finding the 2017 receivers and tight ends being better than the group from 2007. If ever there were a poll that should be split 50-50, it’s that. In fact, I would take the 2007 group over the 2017, but that’s only because I saw Randy Moss play in every game and am not sure I will see Rob Gronkowski do the same. 

    Think about the options after the top guys in both groups. Donte’ Stallworth was a get in free agency -- a 27-year-old first-round pick with all the talent in the world and a few damn good seasons in New Orleans under his belt -- and the guy didn’t even have 50 catches for that 2007 team. No, it wasn’t because he wasn’t any good; it was because Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker were so busy putting up a combined 31 touchdowns together that there was barely time for anyone else. 

    Laurence Maroney was the ’07 team’s lead back, but given how much the team threw and the fact that he missed three games, his 835-yard season with an average of 4.5 yards a pop was a lot better than has been remembered. 

    The only thing you can give the 2017 team over the 2007 one is that they figure to be well-rounded. The Patriots’ defense should be better than that ’07 group, even though the 2007 Pats gave up the fourth-fewest points in the league. Damn, the 2007 Patriots were so good.  

    Yes, that ’07 team lost, but it was still the best team in the league by a mile that season. Bad Super Bowl game plan, bad execution, obviously. But overall? There wasn’t a team close to as good as them that season. 

    The expectation is that something similar could play out this season. The Pats are so much better than everyone else that you’d be nuts to rule out 19-0 talk. Yet that hasn’t happened yet, and for now, the most explosive offense the Pats have ever seen — and very well may ever see — will be that 2007 one. They aren’t held in the same regard as the five championships, and for good reason, but to slight that offense — or really that team at all — is foolish. 

    Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

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    Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

    Five-time Super Bowl champions. Seven-time AFC champs. Fourteen-time AFC East champs. Now, Bill Belichick's Patriots have another title.

    NFL's most "badass" team.

    The Tampa Bay Times polled a panel of 43 NFL writers and asked them for the top three most "badass" teams and players in the NFL.

    MORE PATRIOTS

    The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots came out on top with 29 top-three votes. 

    Here's a sampling of the panelists' comments:

    "They keep winning in a league designed to discourage dynasties." -Terez A. Paylor, Kansas City Star

    "Hands down. They take a three-touchdown lead and keep throwing, and throwing, and don't give a damn what anybody thinks." -Tyler Dunne, Bleacher Report

    "For a decade they've been toying with and laughing at the rest of the league. The biggest bullies on the block." — Ralph Vacchiano, SNY

    "Behind the glitz and glamour of having the game's greatest quarterback, the Patriots ranked among the league's top 10 scoring defenses each of the past five seasons, including No. 1 in 2016." — Ryan Wood, Green Bay Press-Gazette

    The most badass player? Veteran Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The highest-ranked Patriot on the list? Tom Brady at No. 6. Rob Gronkowski was tied with Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack at No. 8. Julian Edelman was among the others receiving votes. 

    Here are the full rankings: 

    MOST BADASS TEAM 

    1. Patriots (29 votes)

    2. Seahawks (27)

    3. Steelers (18)

    4. Raiders (9)

    5. Ravens (8)

    6t. Broncos (6)

    6t. Cowboys (6)

    8. Bengals (4)

    9t. Cardinals (2)

    9t. Packers (2)

    9t. Panthers (2)

    9t. Texans (2)

    Also receiving votes: Chiefs, Falcons, Rams, Titans (1 each)

    MOST BADASS PLAYER

    1. James Harrison, Steelers LB (14 votes)

    2t. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders RB (10)

    2t. J.J. Watt, Texans DE (10)

    4t. Kam Chancellor, Seahawks S (8)

    4t. Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins DT (8)

    6. Tom Brady, Patriots QB (7)

    7. Von Miller, Broncos LB (6)

    8t. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE (5)

    8t. Khalil Mack, Raiders LB (5)

    10. Aaron Donald, Rams DT (4)