The New England Patriots are having quite the offseason. They’ve acquired a premium free agent cornerback in Stephon Gilmore, in Brandin Cooks, and they’ve in Kony Ealy. Not to mention they also just brought back long-time linebacker Dont’a Hightower, the unsung hero of New England’s most recent two Super Bowl victories.
Bill Belichick is, once again, in a very good spot for the immediate future. But because of these moves, the Patriots also find themselves without a draft pick in the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. That’s not a huge deal; New England’s been there before and has a knack for uncovering talent in unexpected places. But this year’s first round features tons of defensive talent, a pool one would expect the Patriots to dabble in.
But the lack of draft picks, coupled with a ton of defensive talent, is exactlyJimmy Garoppolo.
The Patriots have repeatedly leaked the fact they do not plan to trade Garoppolo this offseason. But the reality is if the Browns go the Patriots and drop an offer they can’t refuse, New England isn’t walking away. For instance, there are a pair of first-round picks this year that say the Patriots won’t hold onto Garoppolo.
We’re not going that far down the rabbit hole, though. No. 1 and No. 12 overall for a guy with 94 career passes? No freaking chance. But there’s a deal to be made. Let’s try and make it and then see how the draft plays out after that.
- 2017 1st round pick (No. 12 overall)
- 2017 2nd round pick (No. 33 overall)
- 2017 2nd round pick (No. 52 overall)
- 2018 2nd round pick (TBD, Cleveland’s original)
For a minute I thought about including another first-round pick or having the Patriots send a third-round pick back. But New England isn’t giving up any picks in this deal. And I don’t think the Browns want to risk sacrificing the No. 1 overall selection in 2018, a very reasonable situation if they are once again terrible in 2017. That deal is basically three-first round picks, with Cleveland’s No. 12 being the prize jewel and two of the other second-round picks coming (likely) in the early 30’s.
And it’s a reasonable deal. The value of those picks adds up to 52.2 AV value in Chase Stuart’s draft value chart and 2,710 points in the Jimmy Johnson traditional trade value chart. That’s the equivalent of the 1st and 14th overall picks (Stuart chart) and the slightly more than the 2nd overall pick (Johnson chart).
Any way you slice it, it’s a remarkable amount of value for the Patriots to come away with from a selection of Garoppolo in the second round several years ago. It’s also a lot for the Browns to give up, but they still have two second-round picks next year and the No. 1 overall pick to play with.
Cleveland would prefer to keep their own second-round pick this year, but ultimately they are going to walk away with a pick in every round this year except the second, and a pick in every round next year, including two in the second, plus their franchise quarterback.
It’s a deal that makes sense. Onto the picks.
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: The Browns will still come out of the first round with the best defender in this draft and a franchise quarterback in Garoppolo. They won’t pick until the third round, but considering the moves they made in free agency to shore up the offensive line and the pieces coming into place on the defensive side of the ball, they have to feel good about where the franchise is going.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: I absolutely remain convinced that Trubisky is the best quarterback in this draft class and that he would be an excellent fit in the system that Kyle Shanahan will install in San Francisco. This is a moot point if something happens between the Redskins and Kirk Cousins.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Kind of liked the idea that , who suddenly aren’t dealing with a ton of needs. But “not having needs” and “not needing good players” are two different things. Without a sure-fire offensive lineman on the board and with the ability to add a game-changing running back, the Jags go Fournette here.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles)
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: It’s just not a stretch to see Thomas in the top five given his immense upside. And the Titans could use help at pass rush, making this a fairly easy selection to pull the trigger on.
Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: The Jets just said goodbye to an all-time defensive back in Darrelle Revis and now hope that they can bring someone on board who can have even a modicum of Revis’ success with the Gang Green. Hooker’s a ball hawk and the Jets aren’t competing in 2017, so they can redshirt him if injury requires it.
Jamal Adams, S, LSU: There are more pressing needs for San Diego, but a) there isn’t an offensive lineman worth taking at this spot and b) Adams is the best player on their board, so they lock down the LSU defensive back and deploy him in a creative fashion.
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: Adding more pass rushers -- especially young pass rushers -- should be a critical emphasis for the Panthers in this draft. Maybe this is high for Barnett, but he was crazy productive in the SEC and can step into Carolina’s rotation right away along.
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: The Bengals are not the same team of the past few years and have concerns on the offensive line to deal with. But they also need weapons in the passing game. Davis would be an excellent complement to A.J. Green.
10. Buffalo Bills
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: The Bills have some nice weapons on offense, but what better way to improve the passing attack for the newly re-signed (re-worked?) Tyrod Taylor than by pairing Sammy Watkins with a massive possession receiver in Mike Williams. When in doubt, put as many receivers from Clemson on the field as possible.
Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State: Conley looked like he belonged with the rest of the Ohio State defensive backs in the first round while performing at the combine. He would make an immediate impact on a Saints defense that has all sorts of issues.
12. New England Patriots (via mock trade with Cleveland, from Philadelphia)
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: The Patriots already traded for Dwayne Allen and have Rob Gronkowski on the roster. But what’s another pass-catching, run-blocking tight end for them? It’s another weapon, that’s what. Please don’t tell me the Patriots don’t need a tight end. They’re collecting extremely talented players.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: A year of seasoning under Carson Palmer to learn Bruce Arians’ offense would put Watson in a good spot and prepare him to take over the helm when Palmer (presumably) leaves after next year.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)
15. Indianapolis Colts
16. Baltimore Ravens
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: The star linebacker fell because of off-field issues in this draft, and as a result Ozzie Newsome is more than willing to swoop him up and figure out what he needs later. Good players work well on good teams.
18. Tennessee Titans
John Ross, WR, Washington: I’m all in on Ross, so I don’t expect him to last this far, but maybe medicals are an issue for him. Either way, here he is, and Jon Robinson is thrilled with his first-round selections.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: The Bucs can’t feel great about where they are with Doug Martin, and grabbing Cook gives them a chance to pair Jameis Winston with an old teammate who will give the running game a boost.
20. Denver Broncos
Ryan Ramczyk, OL, Wisconsin: Amid tons of speculation about the quarterback position, John Elway will more than willingly add another body to the offensive line and hope the Broncos can provide some protection up front for whoever is taking snaps.
21. Detroit Lions
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: The Lions need to improve their pass rush and they could do much worse than grabbing the delightfully named local product.
22. Miami Dolphins
Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky: The Dolphins need to beef up the quality of their interior linemen after making a move to trade Branden Albert to Jacksonville for tight end Julius Thomas (who is not actually a guard).
23. New York Giants
24. Oakland Raiders
Takkarist McKinley, LB, UCLA: There’s no such thing as too many pass rushers, and there’s no such thing as too many athletic freaks who are starting to emerge as viable players in multiple facets of the defensive game.
25. Houston Texans
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech: We’re still operating under the assumption that the Texans will get Tony Romo at some point, but it’s entirely possible that it doesn’t happen until June, in which case shoring up the quarterback position would be important in the draft.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC: The Chiefs have a pretty loaded roster and won’t be drafting for need. Which means they can be a little luxurious with their pick, and they do just that by grabbing a young kid who wowed at the combine with his athleticism to only make a great secondary better.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: If the Packers are going to get a pro-ready corner in this draft, they’re probably not going to be bad off by grabbing one out of a Nick Saban system.
David Njoku, TE, Miami: More weapons for Ben Roethlisberger? More weapons for Ben Roethlisberger. Njoku might not be ready to roll right out of the gate, but Jesse James can hold down the fort until he is.
31. Atlanta Falcons
32. New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: Maybe McCaffrey doesn’t make it this long (I don’t think he does, but he did in this edition), but if he is there, he would make a fascinating weapon for Sean Payton to use in the Saints offense. Clearly New Orleans needs defense, but giving up Brandin Cooks netted them this pick, which means they can get a little greedy and grab some offense.