Last year, the Patriots seemingly eschewed the draft, and instead used picks for trades in assembling the 2017 roster. They traded away their first-round pick (No. 32) to acquire the wide receiver Brandin Cooks. The second-round pick was shipped to the Carolina Panthers as part of the Kony Ealy trade. When the draft was completed, the Patriots had selected just four players.
This year should be a different story. The Patriots have picks 23 and 31 in the first round, as well as picks 43 and 63 in the second round, and a total of seven picks for the draft. The team certainly has holes to fill, thanks to the departures of several veterans, including left tackle Nate Solder and wide receiver Danny Amendola. And in a quarterback-rich draft, the Patriots might consider searching for a young arm to groom to be Tom Brady’s replacement.
The abundance of picks in the first two rounds put the Patriots in the position of possibly trading up, possibly into the top 10. If that is the course they pursue, they could have plenty of teams willing to partner up. Here is a look at some of the teams that may be looking to trade down out of the draft:
Cleveland — The Browns own the first and fourth picks of the draft, and would seem to be a lock to draft a quarterback at No. 1. They could also stand pat at No. 4 as well. However, Cleveland general manager John Dorsey said in March that he would be willing to do business.
“My door is wide open,” Dorsey told NewsDay. “If somebody wants to come up and talk to me about a trade, I’m willing to trade. But I’m also going to do what’s best for this organization, and I will do that.
“Any good general manager wants to field phone calls from his peers. That’s why I say, ‘Hey, guys, just give me a call and see what’s up.’ ”
Denver — General manager John Elway said he is open to trading the No. 5 pick. The Broncos did not get much production at quarterback last year, but did land Case Keenum in the offseason, which may mean they would be reluctant to draft another quarterback in the first round. Andrew Mason of DenverBroncos.com examined how trading down could benefit the team.
Indianapolis — The Colts already moved down once this offseason, surrendering the third pick in the draft to the New York Jets in a deal that included the sixth pick. Last week, Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard told NFL Network that he would be willing to trade down once again. Of course, whether he would be willing to do so with the Patriots after Josh McDaniels backed out of becoming the Colts’ new head coach at the last minute is another matter.
Chicago — The Bears appear likely to make a selection at No. 8, but should one of the top quarterbacks slip down the draft board and still be available, as some mock drafts suggest, they will most certainly entertain offers as they believe they are all set after drafting Mitchell Trubisky last season.
San Francisco — The 49ers are set at quarterback, thanks to last year’s trade with the Patriots to land Jimmy Garoppolo. It would appear that 49ers general manager John Lynch would be content to stay at No. 9 and get more help for his prized quarterback. But, just as is the case with Chicago, should one of the top four quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen) still be available, NBC’s Pro Football Talk envisions a scenario where San Francisco would be willing to take calls.
Detroit — The Lions have proven to be willing trading partners in the past, having shipped linebacker Kyle Van Noy and Johnson Bademosi to the Patriots in the last two seasons. That willingness should only increase now that Matt Patricia is the head coach for Detroit. General manager Bob Quinn told the Detroit Free Press last week that was interested in acquiring more picks by possibly trading down.
“I think we’re going to kind of take it as it comes in the first round and see what’s there in the teens and evaluate what our options are,” he said. “I’m always in the business of getting more draft picks, if I can . . . I think that’s just good for business. The more you get, the more you hit on.
“So if we can acquire more picks, that would be something I look forward to. If there’s a player I really like at [No. 20 overall], I’m going to have to go ahead and take the pick.”
The Lions have the 20th pick, but if the Patriots believe a player they have targeted may beselected at 21 or 22, they could reach out to Detroit seeking a deal.
Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney