NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones
Although the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to match the New England Patriots’ offer sheet for restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders, declining New England’s third-round pick as acceptable compensation for Sanders, the Patriots remain surprisingly inflexible in terms of draft capital as this month’s 2013 NFL Draft approaches, with only five selections. In order to maneuver around the draft board effectively, New England will likely be required to trade down at some point for additional picks; trading down from the #29 overall pick offers the Patriots their best opportunity to replenish their missing draft picks. In this article, we’ll look at five potential trades the Patriots could make on draft day.
1. New England trades the #29 overall pick (640) to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the #33 overall pick, the #135 overall pick, and the #169 overall pick (643.3)
This trade is almost exactly even on the trade value chart; although Jacksonville may be interested in conserving their picks, they will likely have to sacrifice a package similar to this if they would like to re-enter the first round. Florida International strong safety Johnathan Cyprien, who conducted a private workout with the Jaguars, is receiving considerable interest from teams in the late first and early second rounds, so Jacksonville could be interested in leapfrogging the likes of San Francisco and Baltimore to secure him. Additionally, Jacksonville may be interested in a quarterback such as E.J. Manuel or Ryan Nassib in the late first, both of whom were privately worked out as well.
2. New England trades the #29 overall pick (640) to the Philadelphia Eagles for the #35 overall pick and the #101 overall pick (646)
Another trade with a very low difference in trade value between the two parties, such a move would offer New England an early fourth-round pick as compensation for moving down six spaces; this trade could be even more appealing than executing a swap with Jacksonville, as the Patriots have a deep roster which may be better served by adding a fourth-round talent than by accumulating mid-to-late-round picks. Philadelphia could potentially be interested in a quarterback such as Matt Barkley or E.J. Manuel, or in ensuring that they are not leapfrogged for a prospect such as Stanford junior tight end Zach Ertz or Florida International strong safety Johnathan Cyprien, both of whom have been in contact with the Eagles during the pre-draft process.
3. New England trades the #29 overall pick (640) to the Cincinnati Bengals for the #37 overall pick, the #118 overall pick, the #156 overall pick, and the #190 overall pick (634.4)
Making a trade with Cincinnati is slightly more difficult than trading with Jacksonville or Philadelphia, primarily because Cincinnati lacks a high fourth-round selection. If the Patriots are willing to take a slight loss on the trade value chart, they could potentially work out a trade resembling this with the Bengals, assuming Cincinnati is willing to part with a handful of mid-to-late-round picks. The most likely target for the Bengals at this point would be Florida strong safety Matt Elam, who would offer Cincinnati a complement for Reggie Nelson in the defensive backfield. If the Bengals are serious about landing Elam, they may feel required to trade ahead of the Baltimore Ravens, who may be considering Elam as Bernard Pollard’s successor; they interviewed the former Gator at the NFL Combine.
4. New England trades the #29 overall pick (640) to the Arizona Cardinals for the #38 overall pick, the #103 overall pick, and the #140 overall pick (644)
It may be somewhat wishful to expect Arizona to give up three picks in this year’s draft after trading for Carson Palmer, but the Cardinals should probably be looking for a long-term option at the quarterback position and may be interested in moving back into the first round for their favorite option, whether that’s Matt Barkley (who Arizona held a private workout with and also interviewed at the NFL Combine), or another quarterback prospect such as Mike Glennon or Ryan Nassib (both of whom were brought in for private workouts.) The Cardinals also held a private workout with Johnathan Cyprien, who, as mentioned before, appears likely to be selected at some point during the first-round.
5. New England trades the #29 overall pick and the #91 overall pick (776) to the Tennessee Titans for the #40 overall pick, the #70 overall pick, and the #142 overall pick (775)
The other trades profiled in this article have involved just the #29 overall pick, but it may benefit New England more to include their third-round pick, #91 overall, in a trade similar to this one, which would allow New England to net an additional fifth-round pick while making a substantial move up the third-round draft board. Tennessee could be interested in getting ahead of teams such as Atlanta or Philadelphia for a tight end prospect such as Tyler Eifert; the Titans have also shown significant interest in this year’s crop of safeties, including Johnathan Cyprien, Matt Elam, and Eric Reid, all of whom held private workouts with Tennessee. If a prospect such as Louisiana St. middle linebacker Kevin Minter falls, that could interest the Titans as well.