2012 NFL Draft: Why the Patriots Should Trade Out of the First Round

How did the Patriots get Brandon Spikes? By trading down of course!

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

I know what you’re asking, when did Bill Belichick start writing for NEPatriotsDraft.com?

While that would be pretty cool, he hasn’t.

I know this isn’t a popular opinion with fans, and as a fan, I know exactly why it is frustrating. You wait around all day for the Patriots to pick… and they don’t. But maybe I’ve drank the Kool Aid, or maybe I have stockholm syndrome, but it is starting to make a lot of sense to me.

I know all of the complaints, and I’ll try to highlight them all, but in the long run I’m just trying to think what’s best for the team, and what will not only help them win now, but also in the future.

I have one caveat as well, there are seven players that could potentially fall to the Patriots, and if they do, I encourage them to draft these players in the first round, or even trade up for them: Courtney Upshaw, Michael Brockers, Devon Still, Fletcher Cox, Dontari Poe, Nick Perry and Melvin Ingram.

Those are all players that are worthy of first round picks, and it will be tough to find a pass rusher or 5-tech DE nearly as good in the second or third rounds.

That being said, here are my reasons the Patriots should trade out of the first round:


This draft is absolutely loaded at CB, WR, G, C and pass rush, especially in the second and third rounds. It’s unlikely that any of the top three WRs (Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd), CBs (Morris Claiborne, Dre Kirkpatrick, Stephon Gilmore), DEs (Cox, Poe, Still) or pass rushers (Ingram, Perry, Upshaw) fall to the Patriots, so why reach for talent when you can find similar talent in the second round?

All of these players should be available in the second round: Jamell Fleming, Chase Minnifield, Brandon Boykin, Jayron Hosley, Dwight Bentley, Alfonzo Dennard, Casey Hayward, Harrison Smith, Trumaine Johnson, Kendall Reyes, Brandon Thompson, Ronnell Lewis, Vinny Curry, Whitney Mercilus, Jared Crick, Shea McClellin, Andre Branch, Cam Johnson, Kevin Zeitler, Amini Silatolu, Brandon Washington, Ben Jones, David Molk, Phillip Blake, Alshon Jeffery, Stephen Hill, Marvin Jones, Marvin McNutt, Jarius Wright, Joe Adams, Rueben Randle, Brian Quick, Chris Givens… and the list goes on.

Would you rather take two first round players, which are likely reaches, or four second round picks, two third round picks, and multiple late round picks, while grabbing future picks?


If you want elite talent, you should be arguing toward trading up, not staying put. The difference between a late first and early second round pick is minimal, especially in this draft.

This is the argument I hear the most often, “the Patriots need elite talent in order to help them win now.” Well they’re picking 27th and 31st. Sure, first round talent is usually easier to predict than later round talent, but if we’re only talking drafting ten picks later while picking up later picks or future picks, what’s the real difference besides the label of “first round pick?”

The best scenario would be to trade one pick for a team looking to draft Brandon Weeden late in the first, and the other pick to a team like the Falcons or Saints without a first round pick, so they could pick up a future first. That way, the Patriots would wind up with a an early 2nd round pick (around 36-43), their 48th pick, a pick around 60, and their 63rd pick.

As I said earlier, they could wind up with four-six of the players I listed above, or they could reach for a guy like Brockers, reach for a center like Konz, then only have two picks in the second round, and one in the third and fourth.

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37 Responses to “2012 NFL Draft: Why the Patriots Should Trade Out of the First Round”

  1. Bob Shannon says:

    I like the idea of trading into or out of a zone in the draft, to get your draft players. This year the top twenty, look very solid. If your guys are there when your pick is on deck, then go ahead, make the pick…Here is where I like to think about if your pick isn’t there?? What if before the draft you try to get a zone to trade into, say 30-70, and the goal is to have 4-8 picks….Pick #27 your guy isn’t there and we trade pick with St. Louis for 33, 39, and 66 picks this year. #31 Barron is available we make the pick….Now with four picks in the second, with your pick available make if not, trade out and get more picks in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds…How about your goal of being in that zone, at least four picks in that zone. Trading with Philly will get you another two picks if they are willing to trade down for the 33rd or 39th picks. Getting picks in the 5-7 rounds would be my goal too, with out giving up next years picks…Ten picks every year would be my goal, stay young and win another Super Bowl….

  2. Jeff says:

    Oh…so your going with VALUE. Here is some VALUE from the past…
    Chad Jackson
    Terrance Wheatley
    Shawn Crable
    Kevin O’Connel
    Ron Brace
    Darius Butler
    Tyrone Mckenzie
    Jermaine Cuningham
    Taylor Price
    We still dont know what they have from the the 2011 draft, to early to tell. By the way Merriweather was a very average SS, Larence Maroney….well they should of drafted De Angello Williams.

  3. Kyle says:

    If only the NFL decided to reverse the draft order this year…oh the possibilities. That being said, I completely agree and would be surprised if BB kept both 1st round picks unless there was one of the players you mentioned. This draft has a lot of depth at the positions we need VERY badly, and 7 picks just isn’t gonna do it. We could use the extra picks to get a WR and OL as there is a wealth of both in the later rounds, and having good WR and OL is a huge part of our team. We can NEVER have enough. How else do you think we made it to the SB with the 2nd worst defense in the league? Everyone is going to say “defense defense defense”, but BB always plans for the future, even if it slightly hurts us now.

  4. jmarFTL says:

    I think it’s not so much that he’s into second-tier players, it’s just that the Pats always pick in that range, and so the cost would be too high to move up. Example: The Skins just had to give up 3 FIRST ROUNDERS and a couple other picks to move up 5 SPOTS. Now granted they were moving to get RG3, who is a hell of a prospect, but for the Pats to move into that first tier they’d likely have to give up both #27 and #31. Belichick would rather move back just a few spots and get some more picks.

    That being said I think I would whoop it up if they moved up to #15 or so and took Barron. He’s really the only good safety in the draft IMO and even though the Jets signed Landry I think they have their eye on him. It’d fill a position of need and stop a rival at the same time.

  5. Jonathan says:

    please please QUIT with that annoying autoplay video in the footer. I’m sick of hearing people ask me if i know the muffin man just because i’m trying to read an article.

    thank you

    ps: i agree about trading down in this draft if a truly must-have player isn’t there.

  6. DaBruinz says:

    Ok.. This article should have been written about 2 weeks before the draft instead of now. Why? Because there is so much going on in free agency.

    The Pats have added the following:
    Brandon Lloyd, Anthony Gonzalez – WR
    Jonathan Fanene – DT/ 3-4 DE
    Steven Gregory – FS
    Trevor Scott – OLB/4-3DE

    Fanene seems a tad undersized at 6’3 since the Pats like their 3-4 DEs to be in the 6’4-6’6 range and that has led to speculations that he’ll be used ala Mike Wright and Jarvis Green.

    Trevor Scott should push for a starting position opposite Ninkovich. At 6’5 and 255 lbs, he’s got the potential to be a starting OLB for them.

    Gregory played out of position in San Diego last year, playing SS opposite Weddle. Moving him to more of the FS position opposite Chung should help him in the Pats defense. And it will allow McCourty to focus on playing CB. With McCourty, Arrington, Dowling, and Moore, the Pats have a good foundation at CB, though they need to bring in another youngster, IMHO.

    Lloyd should be the crown jewel of the Pats off-season, unless they steal someone else for the RDE position. Lloyd should give the Pats the consistent WR to play opposite Welker that they haven’t had since 2009.. This should make the Pats offense deadly in their base and really help to open up the running game for Ridley, Vereen and Woodhead.

    The Pats have also re-signed the following:
    Kyle Love – DE/DT
    Dan Connolly – C/G
    Matt Slater – ST (No, I don’t consider Slater a WR or a S)
    Tracy White – ST
    Niko Koutouvides – ST

    The Pats, as BB has tried to do every year, are trying to fill any holes in the starting rotation and the primary depth prior to the draft so that they can do what they do best in the draft. Draft for VALUE and not entirely for need.

  7. blendahtom says:

    Mark I would also add..

    What are the chances that we can spin both into 2013 1st round picks and still pickup 2nd round picks now later than mid 50’s?

    Philly is obvious first choice to make that happen
    Possibly Denver looking to trade up for one of those QB’s

    Or we can hope that someone falls in love with a prospect like Ingram .. maybe Stephen Hill , Melvin Ingram etc.. and we get a team like Sand Diego or Dallas to jump..

    I could be happy with a draft of.. in the 2nd round..
    Harrison Smith
    Brian Quick
    Josh Robinson
    Shea McClellin

  8. Ratzalot says:

    I’m fond of the idea of trading out of the first round completely, especially this year. Everywhere I look, somebody is mocking safety Mark Barron to the Patriots. While not a bad thing, I find nothing exciting about the pick. In many ways, I believe it would be a waste of a first round pick. I like Barron a LOT more early in the second round. Of the first round prospects who could be available when the Patriots pick, these are really the only players I find intriguing in the first round:

    Trent Richardson (It’s a long shot, but he could fall hard on draft day as seems to be the trend for many talented RBs)

    Michael Floyd (Another long shot, but durability concerns could send him free falling on draft day)

    Dontari Poe (A lot of justified combine hype, but said hype could cool down by April making him available at the end of the first round. Poe is a very interesting specimen with potential as a 3-4 DE.)

    David DeCastro (This is my dream pick. I’m certainly not holding my breath though.)

    Luke Kuechly (A seemingly rock-solid LB who’s being compared to Zach Thomas.)

    Janoris Jenkins (In my opinion, Jenkins might be the best CB in this draft class.)

    Cordy Glenn (I’m biased towards selecting quality offensive linemen. Glenn makes sense at the end of the first round.)

    Dont’a Hightower (I’m including Hightower in this list but offer the same sentiment as I mentioned about Barron. Drafting Barron is like drafting another Chung. Drafting Hightower is like drafting another Spikes. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but doesn’t make the most sense from a needs perspective. As with Barron, I like Hightower a LOT more in the early part of the second round.)

    Mark Barron (Lastly we’re back to Barron. The Patriots could do a hell of a lot worse than Barron, but trading out of the first round if none of the above players are available would be my preference. Unless Barron turns out to be a Polamalu-type safety, I just don’t understand why people think it makes sense to have two strong safeties in the backfield.)

    As a side note, I don’t find any of the “pass rushers” intriguing in the first round. Spending the money on free agent Mario Williams could make a lot of sense IF “the money” makes sense. Would Mario Williams be willing to sign a reasonable money deal to sign with a perennial Super Bowl contender? We’ll see…

    P.S. I also don’t like the concept of offering a contract to WR Mike Wallace. In my mind, I just can’t justify the thought of surrendering a first round pick to the Steelers and then handing over a ton of money to a WR who isn’t even all that elite. Sure, Wallace is a speedster, but his TD numbers just don’t impress me AND it’s not like Wallace had some scrub QB throwing to him. You just don’t give up a first round pick to a playoff rival and sign away a huge sum of money unless the WR in question is someone like Megatron. (I think I just got a little chub at the thought of Brady/Megatron.)

    – Ratz

    • Mark says:

      My first comments aside I agree with Ratz. My hope is that BB will find a way to get another pair of high picks for 2013 while still making out like a bandit in this one. The talent level and potential bargins at the mid to upper second round are staggering. Philly has two picks 46 and 51 that trade nicely for a PATS first rounder. That would leave the PATS with three 2nd round picks right where the bargins would be.

      • blendahtom says:

        Great article Doug!..

        Mark I agree with you as well.. I could see desperate like Philly should be this year to reach.. Do we give up #27 for #51 and a first next year? You betcha.. Then we can still move out of #31 to one of the teams in the late 30’s early 40’s that will be looking for Weeden or Tannehill if he falls that far.. which I think he might.

  9. Mark says:

    I love to speculate about the NFL draft every year, it’s the best part of the off season and what keeps me going from there to my Fantasy draft.
    The mocks and comments I read provide me with the insight I lack through my ignorance/lack of interest in college ball.

    I would like to ask what would be the impact if the Pats traded the first three picks with Tampa Bay’s number 5. Who would they do it for? Because it matches the draft value chart neatly. I would want to know or have some one in my war room know the most likely trade combinations at each pick down the ladder. Trent Richardson? Claireborne? Blackmon? Coples?

  10. Mark says:

    Come on Bill fess up, Doug is just your pen name…

  11. Ralph says:

    every mock draft last year up until a month before the draft had the Bucks drafting Adrian Clayborn.

  12. Lundahl says:

    I’d rather go for depth than the “big names”.

  13. Phil says:

    I totally agree with you. Great post!

  14. Jeff says:

    I would generally agree with this approach, however at the same time…BB has done this before and we didn’t really end up with much at all.

    • TD says:

      Are you sure about that?

      • Jimmy Freeze says:

        Jeff’s right! Out of the 7 picks above there’s 1 pro bowl player…4-5 who spent most of the season on IR…Not good production/yield for 7 picks.

        If the trade-back strategy was so good, why aren’t more teams doing it. BB thinks he can get better players in the 2nd round…if you look at all of the players taken in the prior drafts…there’s a huge drop off in the number of pro bowl taken in round 2 vs round 1…

        You could make a compelling argument that NEP would have 2-3 more Super Bowls if they had a couple of more impact players-particularly on defense. They just don’t fall to the 2nd round…

        A value pick is only value if it helps you win championships…they aren’t collecting baseball cards…if you get 3rd round talent in the 4th round, you still have 3rd round talent…they are still living off the fact they got 1st ballot hall of fame talent in the 6th round

  15. qwerty says:

    I agree with the ideas in this article.

    Unless you know what 26 other teams ahead of patriots are going to do, you really can’t too hyped up about any player. I just hope they get a player who can be a solid starter.

  16. MJP says:

    Brockers is unbelievably overrated, watched a 280lb OG from Miss St pretty much shut him down and he didn’t show well against Georgia either. You would think that a guy with such “undeniable” talent would have produced more on the 2nd best Defense in the Nation. Yet he didn’t and it shows on tape. Could he be a 5-tech, maybe, but I’d rather move up for Fletcher Cox than risk staying put and taking Brockers.

    I also believe that Hightower is the better LB compared to Upshaw. I’m not drafting a DE/OLB in Round-1 who can’t consistently press the pocket and threaten the edge. I saw few glimpses of Upshaw where he did just that. Is he strong, yes, can he be disruptive, yes, but he’s not a 3-4 OLB (which is why he ducked his pro-day and the 40 for the 2nd time). If you put Hightower at DE/OLB and let him rush as much as Upshaw did he would have been just as productive….I like Hightower’s innate pass-rushing ability where he actually pushes the pocket and beat OT’s on an initial move, he also can play in space, he’s an underrated athlete and his positional versatility as a 3-4 ILB or SOLB makes him worthy of #27.

    • Dan says:

      I would agree that Hightower has passed Upshaw at this point. I think Upshaw is a very nice player…first round talent, but he plays stiff, and he’s limited to system and measurables.

  17. andy says:

    outstanding observation,thank goodness Bill knew this 11 years ago.This team has been built through draft picks and players who went undrafted.The proof is in the results I don’t know how anyone can argue with this formula.

    • Dan says:

      To add to what I said, not so briefly above, I was watching NFL last night and they interviewed Saban about what he looks for…from high school player & pros (when he was with Miami +), and he said what should be very obvious: that teams need to define what they want in a player, position, system and start there, then go to other criteria.
      Sounds obvious, but he said he didn’t think many teams did this and ended up trying to fit talent into their team.
      This site has done an amazing job at identifying, and researching (see the CB measurables) such requirements…positionally.
      For example, I’m a huge Ingram fan…love his game, love his quickness and explosion; especially for his size. But, (big but!) he’s got extremely short arms on top of already being too short to play on our outside. I would think even if he fell to us, which I doubt he does, we would move back or pass on him….as an example.
      I like a player like Branch, but then comes the conversion…the learning curve…the failure rate. So, that guy must be smart and of high character. BB requires so much from his OLB/hybrids….I’m sure that’s why he looks internally at guys who have at least made the cut within the league first…see Vrable, Nink, Colvin, Thomas etc…and, he just learned a valuable (although, not too costly…2nd round only) lesson with Cunningham, who will be lucky to make the team this year.

    • Dan says:

      Also, by trading down and gaining picks you have more chips to move up and grab the players you are hoping for…I believe that’s how they got Gronk (too lazy to look).
      In addition to being flexible it allows BB to trade the picks for players, which he’s done countless times. I think Moss did ok for us for a few years (sarcasm), and Welker was a nice pick up for a 2nd round tender…thank you.
      We don’t get those players unless we move back and keep gaining chips…other teams don’t do this and have their hands tied when their turn comes to drafting, and they certainly can’t afford to be making plays on tendered players or simply trading any pick. Again, they don’t have them and they are too desperate to give them away.
      Not to mention we have the room to move with salary cap space available. Other teams are dumping talent because they need to SAVE key players; we have ours wrapped up while we have space to grab anyone’s players lost to bad management. We could easily steal Wallace from the Steelers next week…no big shocker, it’s been talked about enough. But, we’ve been to the Super Bowl 5 times in 10 years and won 3 times.

      Conclusion, if anyone complains about anything BB does they are fools.

  18. Dan says:

    I have to comment on this article, other than just chimming in on some of your comments, because it’s something that I’ve been waiting for and have talked about several times over the last several years.

    The “myth” or illusion (do to all this grading and mocking) that first round talent is can’t miss and top 10 talents are all going to the hall of fame. Maybe “delusion” is the better word?

    The key to looking at the draft is tier the players and not think in terms of rounds (unless to factor in the money, then it’s very important). Some call the “blue chipper” players, other “top ten”; regardless, you have to grade who you think is elite and who isn’t, then lump them into the appropriate tier.

    This year we’re hearing it play out because of the high probability of the Rams dropping back in the trade for RGIII. The guys on NFL Network are explaing that they would like to drop back, but still be able to take a top blue chip talent…remaining in that top tier etc…That’s what you want, and that’s what you are paying for.

    I would say this draft has maybe a dozen or so top tier players, if that, and I’m not going to start naming them because that’s not the point. The great point is the SECOND TIER of players may go from pick 13 to pick 15 (just a guess for this point) into the 2nd round.

    So, if you’re a team that is picking 10th, for example, and the key player you wished for is off the board, you still have the opportunity to grab a top tier player. I would say the greatest example of this this year will be DeCastro. With the example just give you simply count yourself lucky and add the low risk, super, guard to your team and move on.

    So, BB has realized this for years…end of the first round means nothing…he’s usually into 2nd tier players, and that usually continues into the 2nd, if not further, possibly (for example). So, why pay the 1st round obligation when you can take advantage of these other (foolish) teams, desperately trying to gain some “perceived” talent, when you can drop back, save big money, own the player (they now have to work for 4 years to make their big payday…you OWN THEM…a massive part to this, pick up a pick (whenever, this year next…doesn’t matter) and get the same tier player anyway.
    All you have to deal with is some stupid fans and stupid media asking, “why didn’t we get Dez Bryant”, or Larry English, or even someone who turned out good???

    Because when it comes to drafting players more is better…the step up is huge and nobody really knows…hit or miss. It’s actual humility and dealing with reality, and I love this about our coach/GM. It’s the right move.

    • TD says:

      He must also be thinking that when he gets a 1st/2nd rounder into the next year, there is a distinct possiblity of that team having a lousy year and that 1sr is in the top 10-15 picks of that round, like 49ers pick that yielded Mayo and the Panthers pick that got Ras-I

  19. Hunter says:

    I don’t understand why I’ve seen mocks and fans asking for Hightower to the Pats. From everything I’ve read he’s an ILB and much in the mold of Spikes. I would argue that after TE and QB, MLB is the Patriot’s best position right now. With all of the other needs, why would you pick a rotational MLB who’s going to share time with 3 other solid players?

    Excellent points in this article. There will always be frustration during a Belichick draft. I just hope he doesn’t trade down and miss out on players. When the Pats didn’t draft Brooks Reed, Sam Acho, Justin Houston or Jabaal Sheard last year, it was heart-breaking. If they miss out on Andre Branch and other early round pass rushers this year, it’s really going to hurt.

    • TD says:

      Unless BB switches back to the 3-4, there is absolutely no reason to use a 1st rounder on an inside LB. We do need an upgrade in LB backups, but not in 1st round.

      While Upshaw is listed as a LB, he plays at the line more in the mold of a 4-3 DE and he can bring pressure.

      • Dan says:

        Because of this guys incredible ability to play inside & out, even though we have Mayo & Spikes now, I would highly doubt he’d get by us. Players get hurt, he could be used in other areas to start and move around.
        He’s simply a talent BB would seem to want. Meaning, not just a pass rusher, but a winner with all the measurables, who can actually move inside when not playing the end, and when playing the end (as an OLB) he can handle the edge because he’s that big and good.

        Because of all this I doubt he’d fall to us…too system diverse.

  20. Jim R says:

    unless there is a free faller get a move on. You know he will swing and miss on some picks, the more we have the better off we are.

  21. Bruschi54 says:

    Good article, I would put Hightwer in the group of players worthy of one of their first round selections. I think his versatility and size/speed would really help the front seven. I am glad that more people are starting to question Brockers, he seems like one of the biggest risk’s in round 1, Jared Crick or Bill Winn may be able to give you better production in round 2 or 3.

    • Dan says:

      I’m also a convert on Hightower…this site had him going to the Pats a while back and I was not seeing it, but now I think we’ll lucky if he’s there.

      Brockers it interesting…I would gather that his stock will be based on his interviews & character because he’s so young and full of potential. Again, we just don’t have that key information. If he’s a big A-hole, or stupid, then he’s most likely not going to hit that potential, so he’ll slip. If it’s just youth and growing into his massive frame and growing up a bit, he’ll be picked up.

      Something to watch…

  22. N.T. Lane says:

    From Scorecasting

    “The probability that the first player drafted at a given position is better than the second player drafted at the same position is only 53%, that is, slightly better than a tie.

    The probability that the first player drafted at a position is better than the third player drafted at the same position is only 55%.

    The probability that the first player drafted at a position is better than the fourth player drafted at the same position is only 56%.”

    • Dan says:

      So, all this grading stuff doesn’t mean very much. Am I reading these stats correctly?
      This is what I’ve been saying for years, and these stats will confuse a lot of people because how they are comprised is over large samplings, I’m hoping; so there are busts and there are home runs included to make up these slight statistical differences.

      I have to check out that site (or your site)…good stuff.

      • N.T. Lane says:

        In Scorecasting, University of Chicago behavioral economist Tobias Moskowitz teams up with veteran Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim to overturn some of the most cherished truisms of sports, and reveal the hidden forces that shape how basketball, baseball, football, and hockey games are played, won and lost.

  23. AM says:

    By and large, agree completely about trading down in this year’s draft. If Brockers, Upshaw, Kirkpatrick, Kendall Wright, Melvin Ingram, or David DeCastro is available at #27, I would say it is worth the pick. Beyond that, trade, trade, trade.

    That being said, I think that there is one thing that gets lost in all the trade up/trade down discussion (I mean generally, not in this post): with the exception of a general mandate to acquire future picks, trading either way is *not* a “draft strategy.” It has everything to do with the team’s board and the way the players fall. If the player rated #15 on the team’s board is available at Pick #31, and the next best available player is rated #30, they will pick the player and not trade back unless they are sure the player will be available at the next pick. Belichick has shown this time and again, the best example being Logan Mankins at #32 when he was probably rated a late second- or third-rounder on other teams’ boards. In fact, in that scenario they are just as likely to trade up (as probably was the case with Daniel Graham, Ty Warren, and more recently Rob Gronkowski). Those trades up contributed to the Lombardi Trophies as well.

    • Dan says:

      Amen, I agree…the draft is about “their” wish list or big board; so we just don’t know who is of value and who isn’t.
      The list of players, or other mockers lists, are nothing but guesses…you may not have one player they are targeting.
      The interesting addition to this formula of trading back is the money…it’s now realistic financiallly to grab a 1ate first round talent. Before if you could say you were a first rounder you got a big payday…I’m not sure that’s the case anymore.
      Another factor is that other teams are desperate…owners, coaches, GM’s…all needing playmakers to keep their jobs…to keep fans.
      BB is operating from a position of very rare power and comfort…he’s going nowhere, Kraft is going nowhere, the stadium is build, they have their QB, they have their system.
      Come draft day the Pats are like the dude at the World Series of poker last table…he’s got 60% of the chips and the rest of nearly crippled. We have multiple picks in both top rounds, others have a few, or one. They mortgaged their future (Atlanta & NO last year for example) and now have holes because they were not controling their caps either.

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