This isn't the typical personal finance article... but there are parallels between Personal Finance and The NFL Draft as I wrote earlier today. So while this will mostly be about football and about my favorite team, I ask that you give me a little slack on the personal finance for a bit. If you aren't into football or happen to be a Jets or Colts fan, you probably won't enjoy this article.
I follow my favorite team, the New England Patriots very regularly, so I've spent a lot of time looking at this draft as they have 3 of the first 33 picks - a plethora of currency. If you'll indulge me a little bit, I'd like to make some guesses and predictions about what they will do in a couple of minutes. As anyone who knows the Patriots, knows that almost never take who you expect. Here is a great article illustrating that using last year's drat. One thing that we do know, The Patriots trading qualifies as must see television for football fans.
The Patriots Needs
The Patriots have the following needs coming into this draft. I've them in order that I think the Patriots should full them. However, it should be noted that the Patriots are always looking for value and best available, so this will likely change.
- Defensive End - The Patriots have a lot of good players here, but no great player. The Patriots ranked #32 of 32 teams in stopping their opponents on 3rd down. They really could use someone who can get to the quarterback.
- Outside Linebacker - Jermaine Cunningham may solve part of the problem at outside linebacker, but the Patriots need more help here. Like the defensive end above, the is someone who can get at the quarterback and disrupt plays.
- Offensive Lineman - The Patriots have a few issues with their offensive line. They've had one player retire (Neal). Mankins may hold out and not play for most of the year (again). Light may test free agency. There's a report that Nick Kaczur has played his last down for the Patriots. The ace in the hole is that Dante Scarnecchia is one of the best offensive linebacker coaches in the game. He's been known to spin straw into gold.
- Running Back - The Patriots did well with the undrafted duo of BenJavis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. However, they are the only two RBs on the roster and the team usually carries four. The Patriots would like to pick up a third guy in the 3rd or 4th round to share the workload and insure against injuries. However, if they get a chance to take Mark Ingram, the #1 ranked RB by many, at #28 or later, it would be hard to pass him up.
- Quarterback - The Patriots could use a backup quarterback. This isn't a pressing need as they the MVP in Brady and a recognized talent in Hoyer. Hoyer isn't likely to wait around for Brady to retire. Look for the Patriots to draft another quarterback to develop and look to show off Hoyer in pre-season for trade value next season.
Note: I'm going ignore the need for WR that many analysts are suggesting. The thought is that the Patriots don't have a deep player like Randy Moss, Deion Branch has lost a step or two, and that Wes Welker is due to be a free agent at the end of the year. However, the Patriots have drafted Brandon Tate, Taylor Price, and Julian Edelman in recent years. In addition they've gone to more of a TE set and have Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez as very good receiving options. The Patriots had difficulties getting Taylor Price and Julian Edelman on the field last year. This year doesn't look like it will be much different unless there are some injuries. I don't know what the Patriots would do with another receiver this year.
How I would run this draft if I were the Patriots
As you look through these it might be handy to have this handy rough draft pick value chart.
Patriots Pick #10
Huh? The Patriots don't have a pick at #10. In case, Robert Quinn or Patrick Peterson fell to #10 where the Redskins are drafting I could see a trade. The Redskins are looking for more middle of the round of the round picks and I think the Patriots would trade #17 and #60 to move up to get that franchise player. This is an unlikely scenario, so I'll presume it doesn't happen and the Patriots stick with their #17 and #60.
Patriots Pick #17
I see the Patriots grabbing the defensive end here. It's one of their biggest needs and there are a lot of options available here. Mike Reiss, the ESPN Boston Patriots beat reporter, said that he talked to a scout and potentially 15 defensive ends get taken in the first round. Some of the names in play for the Patriots here are: Cameron Jordan, Cameron Heyward or Ryan Kerrigan, J.J Watt, and Muhammad Wilkerson. If there are a few of those players around and the Patriots' scouting has them labeled as being similar quality look for them to trade down and pick up draft picks and then take one of the guys they like. The thinking is that this pick should solidify the position for years.
I think they might trade down and pick up Cameron Heyward.
Patriots Pick #28
Trade 1 - The Patriots trade #28 for a 2012 1st round pick and a pick around #80 (worth 190 points).
Why the other team is interested: Draft picks in the first round can be signed for 5 years as opposed to those picks in the 2nd round that can only be signed for 4. Some of the teams looking to draft their franchise quarterback expect there to be a few good options at this point in the draft. A coach under pressure to bring in the franchise quarterback and keep him for 5 years cheaply would go for this deal.
Of course with any potential trade, they need a dance partner. In previous years this hasn't been a problem and many analysts are saying that this likely. For example Peter King notes:
"There's a team in the draft that has a deal on the table -- I'm guessing New England (surprise!) -- with a team trying to come back into the first round. The deal will net the team dealing the first-rounder the following: a second-round pick in 2011 and a first-round pick in 2012. The deal, I hear, is contingent on the player the trade-up team wants still being there. Could it be Tennessee trading into the bottom of the first round, at 28, to get Jake Locker or Andy Dalton? Stay tuned.
If King's information is correct, then the Patriots can essentially trade 660 points in value this year for 300 points (a pick around #60, even the Patriots have that particular pick), plus 1000 points (#16) in next year's draft. That's a total of 1300 point for 660 points. I think that King's scenario is a little rich, but even if it's the third round pick around #80, that's still 1190 total points over the two years for 660 this year. If only banks gave us that kind of interest, right?
Patriots Pick #33
Trade 2 - The Patriots trade #33 for a 2012 1st round pick and a pick around #100 (worth 100 points).
Why the other team is interested: With the first round ending at pick #32, the teams have a night to reset their draft board. The odds are high that multiple teams will realize that someone of first round value wasn't drafted and look up
The Rest of the Draft
Let's review where we are after the two projected trades (acquiring the 80-ish and 100-ish picks). The Patriots now have the following draft picks (with the value chart in parenthesis): #60 (300), #74 (220), #80-ish (190), #92 (132), #100-ish (100), #125 (47), #159 (28.8), #193 (15.2) . The Patriots still need to fill OLB, OL, RB, and QB. That's 8 picks for four players. That's not a bad position. In addition they have set themselves up to control the 2012 draft with three first round draft picks... two that they hope to be middle of the round and one, their own, that they hope will be #32 (meaning that they win the Super Bowl).
The Patriots could then float #60 and #80-ish which have a combined 490 points, which could in theory get you pick around #41. This is the beginning of the second round, which should net a starting player most of the time.
Next up, the Patriots need to fill that hole on the offensive line. In this case we'll use #74 and #92 (a combined 352 points) and try to trade for a pick around #55. At the end of the second round, this should also get the Patriots a starter on the offensive line.
It's time to address the running back situation. The Patriots combine number #100 and #125 and find that they are worth 147 points - enough to theoretically get a pick around #89 - two thirds of the way into the third round.
The Patriots are left with two picks #159 and #193, which are perfect for the QB that they are looking for. Many have said that Greg McElroy is a Patriots target and he looks likely to be picked in the late 5th or 6th round. That's right where the #159 pick falls. It's the right price to pay so we can take that pick off the board. If the Patriots feel he would go earlier the can add #193 (for 44 total points) to move up to #128 - the last pick in the 4th round.
Summing up my Patriots ideal draft
The Patriots needed DE, OLB, OL, RB, and QB. They walked away with players at all positions with the #17, #41, #55, #89, and #128 picks. This should make fans in New England happy, provided the Patriots scouted well. In addition to these picks they have set themselves up to have 3 first round draft picks next year. This isn't exactly the depth the Patriots typically look for in the draft, but they are at a point when they have a lot of youth and need to focus more on the quality of players than quantity of players. However, I can't imagine Bill Belichick coming away with just 5 players as he likes to create competition in the training camp.
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