For Patriots fans, no draft would be complete without at least one trade down from head coach Bill Belichick. Last night, the Patriots traded the number 23 overall pick to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for picks number 37 and 71.
Normally Patriots fans would be frustrated with their team passing on the chance to take a top-notch talent in the first round, but this year they shouldn’t be. Based on the way the first round unfolded, the Patriots have a tremendous opportunity to take a player capable of making an immediate impact with their early second round pick. A scenario I believe Head Coach Belichick and Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio should pursue is trading left guard Joe Thuney for an additional second round pick, and use pick number 37 on a left tackle.
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23: Joe Thuney #62 of the New England Patriots in action against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
As expected there were numerous tackles taken in the first round, six to be exact. Yet two high-quality tackles are still available. Josh Jones from Houston and Ezra Cleveland from Boise State could may still be on the board when the Patriots use the fifth pick of the second round. My ideal scenario is one where the Patriots trade Joe Thuney for a second round pick in this year’s draft (potentially with Miami), select Jones or Cleveland with pick number 37, and move Isaiah Wynn to left guard.
The Dolphins hold the seventh pick in the second round, which would allow the Patriots to draft one of the many offensive weapons available. Cole Kmet makes sense as the consensus number one tight end in the draft, and the Patriots have one of the thinnest tight end groups in the league. Don't forget that Flores and Belichick worked together in New England, and the Patriots love to trade with teams coached by former employees. The Dolphins get a pro bowl offensive lineman and the Patriots receive needed cap relief and an extra pick. Numerous wide receivers such as Baylor’s Denzel Mims, USC’s Michael Pittman Jr., or Clemson’s Tee Higgins are also options I see as good fits if the Patriots pass on Kmet.
After selecting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the first-round, Head Coach Brian Flores and General Manager Chris Grier must protect their injury-prone asset. The team partially addressed their need at offensive line by selecting offensive tackle Austin Jackson out of USC with the eighteenth overall selection last night, but the Dolphins need more help. Adding Thuney would provide Tua with an impressive left side of the offensive line.
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 01: Josh Jones #74 of the Houston Cougars stands on the sideline during the first half against the Rice Owls at Rice Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Although Wynn performed admirably at left tackle when healthy, his body type is more aligned to that of a prototypical guard. With a more compact frame at 6’ 3” and 313 lbs, Wynn will slide into the interior of the offensive line and replace Thuney. Both Jones and Cleveland have the height to play left tackle, allowing Wynn to move to what most scouts believe is Wynn's most natural position. Jones measured at 6’ 5” and 313 lbs at this year’s combine. Cleveland measured at 6’ 6” and 311 lbs. Jones and Cleveland will need to add weight, but their height should allow them to withstand lanky pass rushers coming off the edge at the NFL level.
Trading Thuney will give the Patriots much-needed salary cap relief. In the scenario above, they also find both their future left tackle and left guard in the process. Furthermore, Jarrett Stidham adds a weapon that should make an immediate impact. What remains to be seen is if the rumors of Thuney being worth a second round pick are accurate.
ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 21: Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Cole Kmet (84) looks for yardage after the reception during the first half of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish v Georgia Bulldogs game on September 21, 2019 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA.(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Although Thuney is an extremely talented player, a left guard looking for a top of the market extension isnt worth a second round pick in my opinion. If Thuney truly is worth the rumored second round pick, it makes all the sense in the world for the Patriots to pull the trigger. Stay tuned to see if this logical scenario plays out.