The New England Patriots weren’t too active in the 2017 NFL Draft, as they had just four picks under their belt.
The Patriots have seven picks heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, including four in the first two rounds — Nos. 23 and 31 in the first round and Nos. 43 and 63 in the second.
New England has depth in this draft in large part after sending wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a 2018 fourth-round draft pick (No. 136 overall) to the Los Angeles Rams last month. The Patriots received the 23rd overall selection in the first round of this year’s draft and a sixth-round draft pick (No. 198).
With respect to the sheer number of picks, the Boston Globe reported that the Patriots are in position to trade up as high as into the top 10 of the draft, which begins Thursday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The reasoning for such a move could be to select one of the top-tier quarterbacks as a potential replacement for Tom Brady in the future.
Brady, who will turn 41 in August, received NFL MVP honors for the third time in his career last season, although the lure of spending more time with family is there, sources told ESPN.
NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang lists USC quarterback Sam Darnold first and UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen second in his most recent Big Board. Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen is ranked 10th by Rang, former Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma is 14th and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is 15th.
The Cleveland Browns are expected to select a quarterback with either the top overall pick or fourth overall pick. The New York Giants (second), New York Jets (third), Miami Dolphins (11th) and Buffalo Bills (12th) are also likely to take a quarterback.
As for potential trading spots for New England, the Boston Globe located a pair in the top 10.
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway is on record as saying his team’s fifth overall pick is open for trade. The Broncos landed quarterback Case Keenum in the offseason.
The Indianapolis Colts hold the sixth overall pick after trading down from No. 3 with the Jets. The Colts, however, might not be willing to deal with the Patriots after being spurned by Josh McDaniels during the offseason for the team’s then-vacant head coaching position.
The Patriots hosted Jackson nearly two weeks ago and the brass was “intrigued and impressed,” NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Monday.
Jackson, who is the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, passed for more than 3,500 yards and ran for more than 1,500 in each of the final two college seasons before declaring early for the NFL Draft. He was measured at 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds at the Combine.
Brian Hoyer remains the only other quarterback on the Patriots’ roster heading into the draft. Hoyer signed a three-year deal the team after the trade deadline last season.
The last two quarterbacks the Patriots drafted — Jacoby Brissett (2016, third round) and Jimmy Garoppolo (2014, second round) — were traded away last season to the Colts and San Francisco 49ers, respectively.