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Sunday 7: Bill Belichick may have hinted he wants to make trade when speaking at Patriots’ pre-draft press conference

Ryan Hannable
April 15, 2018 - 6:00 am

1. Bill Belichick’s pre-draft press conference was fairly uneventful. Even though the coach spoke for nearly 25 minutes, he spoke in a lot of generalities and not a lot of new information was learned. But, the way the press conference ended may have indicated the coach would like to make a trade involving draft picks. Belichick was asked if he’s seen a change in the draft now that the first round is essentially its own entity on Thursday night, and at the end of his answer he went on a long tangent about the draft chart as it relates to trades. He spoke to how it has changed a bit since compensatory picks can now be traded, which started last year. “One of the problems with the draft chart, if we all have our own draft charts, which is fine, sometimes it’s hard to make a trade because, ‘Well, my draft chart says this. Well, your draft chart says that,’ whereas if we all use the same chart, we all agree on basic value,” Belichick said. “Then it’s a lot easier to get what we call, I’d say, a fair trade, which I’d say over the last few years the majority of the trades that we’ve studied have been within a few percentage points one way or the other of being the correct value for the trade.” The way he threw this into a response, coincidentally the last of the press conference that didn’t have anything to do with trades, could potentially be hinting he’s working on a draft-related trade and is getting some pushback because of what the other team’s draft chart says. By having four picks in the top 63 overall, Belichick has the flexibility to do a number of things, both trading up and trading back. It wouldn’t be a surprise in the least to see the Patriots make a trade(s) during the draft, as in his 18 drafts with the Patriots, he has made over 60 draft-day trades with the spilt being roughly 50/50 between trading up and trading down. Since the Patriots have so much draft capital, the potential for a big trade is certainly there.

2. One possibility that hasn’t really been discussed when it comes to the Patriots and drafting a quarterback is what if they bring in two? This actually makes a lot of sense, as it would give the team basically two chances at finding the right one. Obviously, selecting two in the first two rounds wouldn’t really make sense, but say one in the second round and then one in the sixth or seventh round, or even as an undrafted free agent? Late-round picks and undrafted free agents are typically flier picks anyway, so why not use one of them on a quarterback? New England has been doing its homework on quarterbacks at all levels — potential first-rounders to undrafted players — so it has a good sense of all the quarterbacks coming out.

3. Monday is the first day of the Patriots’ voluntary offseason workout program and Belichick noted Friday he’s expecting it to be heavily attended, but a few players will be missing due to other commitments. One of those players could be Tom Brady, as he’s in Qatar for the weekend serving as a Best Buddies Ambassador. The 40-year-old is expected back in the United States sometime on Monday and some have criticized and over-analyzed him potentially missing the first day. One thing these people aren’t mentioning? Brady missed the first day of the offseason workout program last year because he was returning from a family vacation. Although it will be turned into one, Brady missing the first day of the program is not a big deal.

4. Week 2 of the preseason could be pretty entertaining at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots will be hosting the Eagles in the second preseason game and this seems like the perfect week to have joint practices. Belichick seemed to have a great deal  of respect for Doug Pederson and Eagles organization the week of the Super Bowl and with how much Belichick loves joint practices, why not have the teams practice together for a few days? Also, don’t be surprised if the Patriots have joint sessions in Week 1 with the Redskins, also at Gillette Stadium. The two teams had joint practices in 2014, also prior to the preseason opener. 

5. When trying to peg potential draft prospects to the Patriots, many use Belichick’s connections in the college game (Nick Saban-Alabama, Urban Meyer-Ohio State, Kirk Ferentz-Iowa etc.), but the coach cautioned that is just one small piece to a big puzzle. “In the draft process I’d look at it like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “It’s got like 100 pieces. Each piece has a little bit of a fit, but in the end there are a lot of pieces. You have all of the factors that come with the player, a lot of other circumstances, other opinions. There’s medical opinions, his ability as a teammate, leadership, work ethic, strength, quickness, level of improvement, rate of improvement, rate of decline, injury factors, versatility. How much has he done? How much could he do? Maybe he hasn’t been asked to do it. There’s a thousand things that go into it, so you try to put it all together and figure it out. It’s hard.” 

6. On that note, it will be interesting to see the impacts of Bret Bielema and Todd Graham. Bielema was fired by Arkansas, while Graham was fired by Arizona State and both are rumored to have joined the organization in consulting roles. They have been spotted with other members of the organization at the combine and pro days this spring. Obviously, they can give a lot of insight on the SEC and PAC-12, respectively.

7. There will be some media access at Gillette Stadium this week, but it doesn’t relate much to the draft. Matthew Slater will meet with reporters on Tuesday and it will be interesting to hear what he has to say after visiting the Steelers this offseason before re-signing with the Patriots. In addition, it is expected another player will be made available on Thursday. Also, on Wednesday the 2018 Patriots Hall of Fame nominees will be announced and online voting will begin.

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