When the 2012 NFL Draft takes place Thursday the New England Patriots will have two picks late in the first round. With the wide receiver issue now fixed through free agency and the team looking almost complete, they are in prime position to move up for a big time playmaker.
Holding five of the first 93 picks in this year’s draft, the Patriots have plenty of flexibility to play with. In addition to this flexibility, there have been rumors that several teams with top 15 picks are looking to move down by trading their picks. This gives the Patriots a great opportunity to make a move that will dramatically improve the team this season.
With the Patriots current first round selections of picks 27 and 31, it’s unlikely any player available will make an immediate impact. Also, while the Patriots are currently attempting to rebuild their defense, they have been doing so since 2009 drafting 33 players over the past three years and already have several capable players on the current roster. Because of this, the Patriots have the ability to draft for quality rather than quantity.
So if the opportunity presents itself where a team wants to move down and the price isn’t too steep to make an earlier selection, there’s no reason why the Patriots shouldn’t take advantage of that. Instead of taking a player that will be a project over the next three or four years, they can select a play like safety Mark Barron or cornerback Morris Claiborne who will step in to start in 2012 and improve a defensive secondary that really needs it.
Some people may argue that a trading of picks can be used to stockpile more for the future. The question for the Patriots is how long can that last? Tom Brady will be 35-years old when the season starts and the Patriots run being a Super Bowl contender will likely end when Brady begins his decline from an elite quarterback. Because of his eventual decline and the lack of knowledge of when that will occur, the Patriots should make a run for championships sooner rather than later.
In order for the Patriots to win a Super Bowl in the near future, they will have to improve in the defensive secondary. There will be days when the Patriots’ stellar offense is off and on those days they cannot allow the defense to be carved the way they so regularly were during the 2011 regular season. Trading up for a higher selection Thursday night will bring the Patriots much closer to their fourth Super Bowl win in 2012.