I am going out on a limb with two predictions.
The first is that no team wants the first overall pick in the draft. In fact, if Carolina wanted to trade the pick, it would lose the trade based on the perceived value of the first overall pick. In the old value system, the first overall pick carried the most worth, but that was before the cost of signing the pick soared like our gas prices.
My second prediction is that the New England Patriots will have many teams vying for their first pick in the second round (No. 33 overall), but their most coveted pick will be the 28th pick overall. In fact, there will be so many teams that want to acquire that 28th overall pick that the value of the pick will far exceed the old chart value. The 28th pick will be the auction pick, because many teams won't want to leave Radio City on Thursday night without the player it deems the key to its draft.
With little more than a week until the draft, the Patriots understand their 33rd pick will be in high demand, especially all day Friday morning. Yet, they also understand their most intriguing pick -- and the one that will create the most stir -- will be their 28th overall. Knowing they have the 33rd pick, the Patriots can move as far as they want and still not lose many talented players off their board. Having a pick like the 33rd overall allows the Patriots to move their 28th back as far as 20 spots because, in essence, they will only lose 15 players, not 20, and gain significant value for the pick. The closer teams have picks together allows more flexibility in moving, and we all know Belichick loves to move.
Belichick talked to Siruis NFL Radio this week and had this to say on moving his picks in the draft, "I think you really have to wait until draft day, kind of see how it all plays out. But we've definitely been contacted by teams offering to move back and seeing if we want to move up.
"And we've also been contacted by teams behind us looking to move up into a better position. But there definitely seems to be a lot of interest in our draft picks and, as you know, we're not afraid to trade them. We'll do what's best for the team. So, we'll evaluate those opportunities."
And evaluate is what Belichick does best. He values each player, never falling in love with the name, only correctly evaluating the talent. The Patriots, like most teams, enter their draft room intent on selecting talented players at any position. And they always have a cluster of five or six players who have been similarly graded, which allows them to be flexible to move down.
Unlike most teams, the Patriots never fall in love with just one player, therefore they can move down. However, they never just move to move. Because of this cluster of picks, Belichick knows he can trade the 28th overall pick because he has the 33rd as his next. He would only lose five players off his board and gain a better contract and more value for that selection.
Before they would agree to a trade, the Patriots calculated how far they can move down and still get a player of equal talent with their new pick. They will never make a move that takes them away from acquiring talent, therefore finding the right trade partner is equally important as what value they receive back in the trade. I can actually visualize a scenario in which the Patriots move from No. 28 to the mid 30s, and then move pick No. 33 to the low the 40s and end up with the same players they would have selected at Nos. 28 and 33.
Moving to move is not what the Patriots want to accomplish in the draft. New England moves to put itself in the best economic position possible with every pick. The Patriots want the talent level of each player to match the cost of each pick, which is what many teams say they want as well, but few are willing to make the moves to ensure they accomplish that goal. Once a team has to have a certain player, then they lose their ability to match value with the pick and lose their flexibility.
I realize most Patriots fans want their team to stop collecting picks and get a blue-chip player. And if there is a player at No. 10 or 11 that the Pats want, I believe they would move up to get that player. Then, because of the value of pick No. 28, as well as 33, they can then move one of those picks, thus reducing the cost of their move up.
The draft starts on the night of April 28 with all the excitement centered on who the Carolina Panthers will select. But for me, the most interesting aspect of the draft will be what the Patriots will do with all of their picks. I want to see how they match the value of the pick to the value of the player. They do this better than most, and it is the fundamental principle of any draft.
I cannot wait to watch it all unfold.