How smart were Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio to trade up twice in the first round?
|04.27.12 at 10:22 am ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots under Bill Belichick had traded up in the first round just twice since he came to Foxboro in 2000.
On Thursday night, they matched that total in a span of 15 minutes.
At 10 p.m., the Patriots struck a deal with the Bengals to trade them their 27th overall pick and their third-rounder to move up to 21st so they could take Chandler Jones, the 6-foot-5 defensive end from Syracuse that had rocketed up the draft boards in the last three days.
Once the Bears nabbed defensive end Shea McClellin out of Boise State at No. 19, the Patriots knew they had to make their move. So, with Tennessee on the clock, they consummated the deal with Cincinnati as the Titans were selecting wide receiver Kendall Wright.
It marked the first time since 2003 the Patriots moved up, when they made a move for Ty Warren.
But alas, Belichick and personnel chief Nick Caserio weren’t finished.
They wanted an every down linebacker who could play inside and outside. They had a name in mind – Dont’a Hightower from Alabama.
To get him, they knew they’d have to move from No. 31. So, they entertained offers and the one from the Broncos sounded very reasonable. Denver simply wanted New England’s fourth-round pick this year and the Patriots could move up six spots to No. 25. Deal.
Ten minutes, two first-rounders and the Patriots had their guys.
“They had nothing to do with each other,” Belichick said, sporting a suit and tie in the Gillette Stadium press box. “We made our first pick and, we don’t know if a team’s going to trade or not. They might. As usual, there were teams we called that didn’t want to trade and teams that called us and we didn’t want to trade and there have been times when we’ve been called and did want to trade.
“You can’t count on that. We were focused on our first pick. After we made it, then we looked at what was on the board and what other teams are doing, made some calls, fielded some calls, whatever it was. I don’t know. There’s a lot of communication in the draft room. Nick handled most of that. So, that’s how it worked out.”
Belichick seemed very pleased with the unusual deals he struck.
“I thought we had a good day,” he said. “As usual, the draft always takes some interesting twists and turns. You just never know how it’s going to go, but as the players came off the board we were able to execute a couple trades there and still hang onto our two second round picks, which I thought if we moved up I wasn’t sure that we would be able to do that, but it worked out that way. Nick really did a good job of handling those.
“I felt like we got good value for them. [We] took Dont’a and Chandler. Probably could have been in either order, but we felt like we would have a better chance to end up with both players if it went that way, not that we were sure we would get the second one but we thought we might have a shot at it. Looking forward to working with both guys.”