With back-to-back selections in the third round of the NFL Draft, the Patriots were guaranteed to use at least one of them, since the 97th overall pick fell under the compensatory category, which means it could not be traded.
But the Patriots have a tendency to pull the trigger on trades involving draft picks, and had the option of dealing the 96th selection, which they ended up doing Friday night, sending it to the Cleveland Browns. It marks the 54th time Bill Belichick has orchestrated a draft-day trade in his 16 drafts as Patriots coach.
The deal netted New England an additional pick in this year’s draft. In exchange for the 96th and 219th picks (a seventh rounder), the Patriots received three picks: Cleveland’s spots in the fourth round (No. 111), fifth round (No. 147), and sixth round (No. 202). The Patriots will enter the final day of the draft with seven draft picks remaining: Three in the fourth round, one in the fifth, two in the sixth, and a compensatory pick in the seventh, which also can’t be traded.
It should make for a busy day, with more trades a real possibility.
When the fourth round begins at noon on Saturday, the Patriots will soon be on the clock; they have the second pick of the fourth round, obtained last year from Tampa Bay when they also acquired linebacker Jonathan Casillas.
After making the trade on Friday, the Browns selected Washington State defensive tackle Xavier Cooper at No. 96. The Patriots then used their compensatory third-round selection at No. 97 on Geneo Grissom, a defensive end from Oklahoma. That came after they chose Jordan Richards, a safety from Stanford, in the second round.
“We’ve got a little bit of flow,” Belichick said, referring to the seven draft picks the team has left.
The only year Belichick and the Patriots didn’t make any draft-weekend trades involving picks came in 2004, when they were coming off a victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. They’re coming off another title, beating Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1 for the franchise’s fourth championship, but couldn’t resist striking a deal that padded the number of draft picks they have remaining.
That approach, more than anything else, seems to be the Patriots’ way.