My first article in this series, "AFC North Drafting, 2001-2012: An In-Depth Look," compared the AFC North and the New England Patriots to the league average in two areas: how good a job they did choosing players, and how well they devel...
My first article in this series, "AFC North Drafting, 2001-2012: An In-Depth Look," compared the AFC North and the New England Patriots to the league average in two areas: how good a job they did choosing players, and how well they developed the talent they drafted. You can click the link above to find out what conclusions I came to. But there are a lot of other questions one can explore with the data I compiled.
Today on BTSC: Miller's knee Woodley on conditioning Sanders' contract Hawthorne on crutches
One of the things I've always wondered when draft discussions inevitably go to the question of trading up or down is, how much sense does either strategy make? I ran across an article discussing whether in the new era of reasonably-priced rookie contracts Bill Belichick, considered the king of NFL horsetrading, will change his strategy of trading down for more picks and, if anything, trade up for less of them.
The author supported the supposition by noting Belichick had actually traded away a couple of picks in the 2012 draft to move up. However, the article was written before this year's draft, and Belichick was back to his normal form, trading down to grab more picks. (Regrettably I didn't bookmark the article, and naturally I can't find it to save my life.)
But I think characterizing Belichick in this way is far too broad a brush to paint with. I decided to try and determine how much he trades, and how effective his trading strategies really are. Let's look again at the chart from the previous article, but just with the league average and New England's performance in it:
New England's best drafts by far since 2001, compared to the league average, are 2003, 2005, and 2010. (It's probably still too soon to properly evaluate 2010, so I'm going to confine myself to '03 and '05.
What I found was mind-boggling. It took me a couple of hours to sort out what happened in the 2003 draft. I expect many teams felt the same sense of "what just happened?" as I did.
The Patriots began the draft with the following picks, just for being the Patriots, as it were: Nos. 19, 50, 81, 120, 157, 193, and 234. Of those picks, they actually only used Nos. 120 and 234, and even No. 120 went around the block a few times.
Woodley ignoring unnamed teammate's comments
Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley isn't listening to alleged comments made by an unnamed teammate this offseason in regards to his conditioning
In addition to these seven picks they had acquired the following picks from other teams: No. 14 (traded Drew Bledsoe, QB, to BUF for their '03 1st round pick); No. 140 (part of a 2002 trade with DAL); No. 154 (traded Greg Randell, OT to HOU in 2002); No. 225 (traded Grant Williams to Rams); Nos. 78, 239, and 2004 fourth-round pick (traded Tebucky Jones to NO); and No. 128 (traded Terry Glenn to the Packers in 2002.) They also picked up selections in most of the player trades.
The Patriots then began the draft with 14 selections, as follows:
Round 1: 14, 19
Round 2: 50
Round 3: 78, 81
Round 4: 120, 128
Round 5: 140, 154, 157
Round 6: 193
Round 7: 225, 234, 239
There were a number of complicated trades, including the one in which the Patriots traded picks Nos. 50 and 120 to the Panthers to move up to No. 45 in the second round, and then traded a bunch of stuff to the Broncos to get No. 120 back. Here's what they ended up with (original picks in brackets—no comp picks):
Round 1: [14, 19] 13
Round 2:  36, 45
Round 3: [78, 81] No pick
Round 4: [120, 128] 117, 120
Round 5: [140, 154, 157] 164
Round 6:  201
Round 7: [225, 234, 239] 234, 239, 243
This may not look like they did particularly well. They purveyed 14 picks, including two first-round picks, into 10 picks, with almost a third of those being seventh-rounders and only one first-round pick. However, they also got the Raven's 2004 first-round pick, the Dolphin's 2004 second-round pick, and the Redskin's 2004 fourth-round pick.
But what makes thi