The Patriots rarely trade up in the NFL Draft to make a pick, but this off-season has already been strange by New England standards. The drafting of a young quarterback for coach-in-waiting Josh McDaniels to mold looks to be a lock either Thursday night in Round 1 or Friday night in Round 2 or 3. The Lamar Jackson to the Patriots rumors came in hot and heavy late last week and if the Patriots do trade up, it would likely be for the former Louisville star. Jackson is expected to go in the 10-20 range of the draft, so the Pats – sitting at 23 and 31 – would likely have to give something up to land Jackson.
The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi, who is as tied-in to Bill Belichick’s way of thinking as any NFL analyst, says that the Pats really like Jackson likely not enough to give up multiple draft picks.
“I think this is going to be an interesting situation for understanding value and the draft process for Belichick,” Lombardi said on The Ringer NFL podcast. “Because he’s sitting there with two five-year contracts, with two guys that should start. He trades Brandin Cooks – making $8.5 million, he picks up a cheaper contract for five more years and gets away from having to play Brandin Cooks Mike Evans money, which the Rams are going to do [with Cooks] no question.
“So Belichick is sitting there, does he trade one of those assets – one of those five-year contracts to get a quarterback of the future? That’s really where the discussion has to be centered on. Is there a player in this draft that you should cash in an asset to move up to get? And I don’t know [that there is one].
“The Ravens are the sneaky team here. Because they could easily take Lamar Jackson. And they’re at 16. And you’ve got Buffalo right there too. I think the Patriots would be best to see the landscape. And if those quarterbacks go in the top 10 fairly quickly, then there’s nobody that I think they can race up to get because they’ve got to just sit there and say, ‘This isn’t our time to get the quarterback.’ They’ve got to find somebody else to come in and develop. Because we know we have [Tom] Brady for at least another year. Ideally if Lamar Jackson slipped I could see them making that move, but I don’t think he will.”
Lombardi went on to say that if the Patriots don’t take a quarterback in the first round they will zero in on an offensive lineman.
Looking at NFL Network analysts’ final mock drafts, Mike Mayock and Bucky Brooks each had Jackson going to the Ravens at 16. Daniel Jeremiah had Jackson going to the Patriots at 23 and Charley Casserly had Jackson going to Jacksonville at 29.