No one could have predicted that 2020 would start off with a pandemic-inspired global shutdown, but the Patriots trading down and out of the first round? Almost everyone who knows New England's draft history could have seen that coming.
The first round of the 2020 NFL Draft moved along at a fairly swift pace due to relatively few trades. But as they so often do with picks near the bottom of the first round – and, significantly, without a scheduled selection in Friday's second round – the Patriots elected to deal themselves out of the opening competition altogether.
New England sent its 23rd overall choice to the L.A. Chargers in exchange for Los Angeles' pick at the 37th overall spot, which is the fifth pick in Round 2, as well as at 71 overall (the seventh pick of Round 3).
In a video conference with reporters following Round 1, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio explained his team's rationale for the move.
"We thought the trade made sense... We'll see how it all works out. I'm sure we'll be active tomorrow. We have some flexibility."
With the draft set to resume with Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday night, the Patriots are now armed with five choices – the aforementioned acquisitions from the Chargers, plus their own choice at 87 overall in Round 3 and a pair of compensatory picks at the end, 98 and 100 overall.
Amid the COVID-19 lockdown which remains in most areas, the league conducted the draft remotely via numerous video conferencing platforms across the U.S. Selections were made by team officials sequestered in their own homes and communicating over the phone and by conference calls.
Caserio noted that, at least from a Patriots perspective, this unique setup posed no significant challenges to New England's ability to conduct its business Thursday.
"Process-wise, the league did a great job. Everything went pretty smoothly. Everybody in the league deserves a lot of credit. We really didn't have any gaps [in communication]. We tried to replicate our draft room and I think we were able to do that this evening.
"It's been hard for a lot of people throughout the country," Caserio added, with respect to the ongoing health crisis, "but the people on the [medical] front lines, they deserve more credit than a lot of these players were going to talk about over the next few days. We'll certainly talk about them… Everything that's gone on for the past however many weeks puts football in perspective. What we do is probably not as important as some of the other things in our lives – our family, our health, our faith. We're all blessed to be here in this situation this evening."