The NFL is structured to keep the best teams from staying on top, by moving them to the bottom of the draft order. But the Patriots have beaten the system, and are poised to keep doing it.
New England has already won six Super Bowls over 17 years with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and they keep planning wisely to position themselves to keep winning. That includes their positioning in this year’s draft, where they’ll add plenty of depth on Day 2.
It actually starts on Day 1, when the Patriots have the 32nd and final pick, as Super Bowl champions. The last pick of the first round is often traded (it has been traded in each of the last three drafts) because plenty of teams want to move up to the high first round to grab a player they think they’ll want to lock up for five years. (Second-round picks get four-year contracts, but first-round draft picks have a fifth-year option in their contracts.) So don’t be surprised if the Patriots end up making a move like trading their first-round pick for another team’s second- and third-round picks.
And once the second and third rounds get going, the Patriots are in great shape. As Peter King noted in today’s Football Morning in America, the Patriots are expected to have five picks on Day 2: Their own second-round pick, the Bears’ second-round pick and the Lions’ third-round pick (both acquired via trades last year), and two likely third-round compensatory picks for letting Nate Solder and Malcolm Butler walk in free agency last year.
If compensatory picks go as expected, the Patriots will select six players in the 70 picks from the last pick of the first round through the last pick of the third round. And that’s before we get to the part where the Patriots may very well trade one of those picks for more picks, as they’ve been so successful at doing through the years.
It’s also worth noting that the Patriots’ top pick last year, offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, missed his entire rookie year with an Achilles injury but is expected to be good to go in 2019. That’s another talented young player who is essentially a new addition to the roster.
If the Patriots draft wisely, they could have as big an influx of young talent in 2019 as any team in the league. The Super Bowl champion adding so much new talent is not the way things are supposed to work in the NFL, but the Patriots have shown over and over again that they can succeed in ways that other teams can’t.