Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to admit the Patriots are a machine. It doesn’t seem, to matter how many established vets they jettison, the team comes back stronger every time. Of course, Brady and Belichick have been the constants, but still there must be something else at work, too. With the 2011 NFL draft on the horizon, I wanted to better understand the ways of this rival; if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? Maybe by studying last year’s draft, something can be learned to help the Bills in their own War Room. The raw data for this analysis was found Wikipedia. Any misinterpretations are my own.
In the 2010 NFL draft, the Patriots made a staggering 15 trades. I remember Buddy Nix joking about not knowing when other teams were even picking. I’m sure he was not alone. In contrast, the Bills made just two moves, both were picks acquired in exchange for players from 2009: Jason Peters, Ko Simpson. The Patriots also had five trades which involved players for picks. I did not look at those trades because this is not a player evaluation article. I want to look strictly at pick-for-pick trades to better understand the Pats success. That leaves 10 trades. One more has been eliminated because, best as I can tell, it represents nothing but gamesmanship on the part of Belichick: N.E. traded picks #85 & #119 for OAK’s Derrick Burgess; then OAK later swapped pick #119 back to N.E. for pick #158 with no further compensation. Sounds like Belichick wanted everyone to believe he had pick #119 when he really didn’t. Mind Games.
So that leaves nine pick-for-pick trades by New England during the 2010 draft.
- N.E. trades [#22] for DENV [#24 & #113]
- N.E. trades [#24 & #119] for DALL [#27 & #90]
- OAK trades [#42] for N.E. [#44 & #190]
- JAX trades [2009’s #232 & 2010’s #44] for N.E. [2009’s #73]
- TEN trades [2010 #47] for N.E. [2009 # 89]
- N.E. trades [#47] for ARIZ [#58 & #89]
- N.E. trades [#58] for HOUS [#62 & #150]
- N.E. trades [#89] for CAR [2011’s #33]
- WASH trades [#208] for N.E. [#229 & #231]
There’s certainly a lot of variety: 2-for-1 trades, 1-for-2, moving up, moving down, multi-year trades... I’m no psychologist, but William Stephen Belichick might just have a touch of the OCD. Nix, on the other, said he would be sleeping at midnight for the start of last year’s free agent season. Oh well, the question is, can we learn anything for our own use?
Trade 1 is a great example of a simple, high benefit move. Down two spots in Round 1 got them a free 4th Rounder. Trades 6 & 7 use the same technique.
Trade 2 seems pretty straightforward as well: move down three spots in Rd. 1, up 29 spots in Rd. 3.
Trades 3 & 9 are the only times during the draft N.E. moves up the board. Notice that neither time do they give up high picks: #190, #229, #231.
Trades 4,5 &8 are all multi-year deals. The theme of these deals is simple: give up something this year for something much better next year. The great thing about this kind of deal is that, if you make a similar deal each year, you only have to bite the bullet the first time; every year thereafter you are receiving the fruits of the investment.
The Masterstroke: Trade 8 is a thing of beauty. N.E trades a 3rd rounder [#89] to a team desperate for improvement, the Carolina Panthers. They must wait a year, but the payoff is that New England gets Carolina’s 2nd rounder in 2011. Oh, by the way, Carolina picks first in that round. And, how did the Patriots acquire that #89 pick? It was a throw-in from Arizona to move up 11 spots in the Rd 2. So, N.E. moved down 11 spots in Rd. 2 and ends up with pick #33 in the next draft.
In conclusion, Nix and Gailey have stated that they are in this thing for the long haul. If so, I hope to see them take a few pages out of the Patriots draft book: move down a little to move up a lot; don’t give up much to move up; wait a year and reap big benefits.