The first night of the 2016 NFL Draft will be Patriots free, unless New England trades up.
It's possible, but it might not be the smartest move considering the Pats would have to basically lose another draft pick in order to make Roger Goodell say the words "New England Patriots" on a night when he holds the floor.
As part of their Deflategate punishment, they have to surrender their highest pick in the first round. Theoretically, the Pats could trade up to No. 1 and give up the farm but they'd wind up picking at No. 29 (which is the pick that has been vacated). If Bill Belichick does opt to do this, he'd likely target a team in and around No. 29 - obviously. Many of the teams in that area have recent playoff history with the Pats (Seahawks at 26, Chiefs at 28, Broncos at 31).
ESPN.com's Mike Reiss discussed the possibility recently.
"I'd rate that possibility as highly unlikely, as I think the team values two picks over one in that scenario because the difference between the players in the late 30s to early 60s isn't significant enough," he said. "A more likely scenario to me is the Patriots using one of their sixth-rounders to move up slightly in the second round if a player they covet is sliding within range.Running back, cornerback, defensive tackle, offensive tackle and wide receiver are the positions I think the club will target early if the right players are available."