Bill Belichick is known for his savvy trades, so I decided to take a look at five of his best Draft Day trades. This list will only include trades where Belichick traded up in the draft to select a specific player, or when he traded back in the draft to acquire more picks.
Times when Belichick traded draft picks for players, like he did with Randy Moss and Wes Welker, do not count with this list. The only trades that will be considered are when Belichick traded draft picks for other draft picks.
5. 2013 Draft: New England Trades Back in the Draft and Selects Jamie Collins and Logan Ryan
In the 2013 draft the Patriots held the 29th pick, and they received an offer they couldn’t refuse from the Minnesota Vikings, which included a second (52nd), third (83rd), fourth (102nd) and seventh (229th) round selections in exchange for a first round pick.
Minnesota would select WR Cordarrelle Patterson with this pick, who would only posted 1,316 receiving yards and 7 TDs in four seasons with the Vikings, and would later become a Super Bowl Champion with New England in 2018.
Right off the bat New England came out on top without even making a selection after the way Patterson played in Minnesota. The trade got even better for the Patriots, as they took LB Jamie Collins with the 52nd pick and CB Logan Ryan with the 83rd pick. Belichick would then package the 229th pick in a trade to acquire RB LeGarrette Blount from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Instead of standing pat at the 29th pick, Belichick traded back in the draft for more picks, and he hit big time with the second and third round selections by drafting two players who helped contribute to two Super Bowl Championships.
4. 2001 Draft: NE Trades Up in the Second Round to Select Matt Light
Belichick struck a deal with the Detroit Lions to move up in the second round in order to select OT Matt Light. All it took was a second (50th) and a sixth (173rd) round selection to move up two spots, but it proved to be worth it. Light spent his entire 11 year career with the Patriots contributing to three Super Bowl winning teams, racking up three Pro Bowl selections and first team All-Pro honors in 2007.
With the 50th pick, the Lions selected C Dominic Raiola, who was a starter for the Lions for 13 seasons out of his 14 year NFL career in Detroit. But he did not have the same impact on the Lions that Matt Light had on the Patriots. Detroit would then select OLB Jason Glenn with the 173rd pick, but he would never play a snap with the Lions.
Belichick saw the talent in Matt Light and realized he could not take a chance on waiting two more selections to draft the Purdue product, so he paid a very small price to secure New England’s starting LT for the next 10 seasons.
3. 2003 Draft: Patriots Acquire a 2004 First Round Pick That They Use to Select Vince Wilfork
In 2003 the Baltimore Ravens were desperate to land a QB, and after seeing Carson Palmer and Byron Leftwich selected in the top 10 the Ravens knew they had to trade up 22 spots to select the best QB still on the board in Kyle Boller. Trading a second round (41st) and a 2004 first roun d(21st) pick turned out to be catastrophic for the Ravens, as Boller posted a 20-22 record in five seasons in Baltimore.
The real prize in this trade was the 2004 first round pick, but New England also did well with Baltimore’s second round pick. They packaged it to move up five spots in the draft to the 36th pick, where they selected CB Eugene Wilson who contributed to two Super Bowl titles in New England.
Baltimore’s 2004 first rounder turned out to be the 21st pick in that year’s draft, and Belichick selected NT Vince Wilfork. Wilfork has a chance to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame following 11 seasons in New England, where he won two Super Bowls, made five Pro Bowls, had three second-team All-Pro honors and one first-team All-Pro selection in 2012.
Belichick’s decision to trade back in the draft and acquire a future first round pick turned out to be excellent, as he selected a possible Hall of Famer as well as a great addition to the secondary. It helped even more that the Ravens did’t do much with the 19th pick.
2. 2010 Draft: Belichick Trades Up to Select Gronk
This is another time where New England traded up two spots to select the player they wanted, which means they did not have to give up much to do so. New England acquired the 42nd pick from the Oakland Raiders in exchange for second round (44th) and sixth round (190th) selections. This proved to be very little compensation considering the Patriots selected quite possibly the best Tight End of all time in Rob Gronkowski with the 42nd pick.
The Raiders would then go on to select DE Lamarr Houston with the 44th pick, who only spent four years in Oakland, and LB Travis Geothel with the 190th selection, who only spent three years in the league. The Raiders are probably kicking themselves for not standing pat at 42 and selecting Gronkwoski. Instead they landed up on the wrong side of one of the biggest Draft Day heists of all time.
Like I said, Gronkowski could be the best TE of all-time, so the Patriots robbed the Raiders blind by giving up very little to select a five time Pro Bowler and four time first-team All-Pro player in Gronk. This trade is not Belichick’s best, mostly because the next trade gave New England the opportunity to trade up for Gronk.
1. 2009 Draft: Belichick Turns a 3rd Round Pick into Gronk and Edelman
With the 73rd pick Belichick decided to trade back by sending this selection to Jacksonville in exchange for a seventh rounder (232nd) and a 2010 second round pick.
Both pieces turned out to be crucial for Belichick as he selected Julian Edelman, who may go down as the best slot receiver of all time, with the 232nd pick, and that 2010 second round pick turned out to be the 44th pick in the 2010 draft. The same pick that was flipped in exchange to move up two spots in order to draft Rob Gronkowski.
If not for this trade, the Patriots very well could have missed out on Julian Edelman, and they might not have had the ammunition in the 2010 draft to trade up and select Gronk.
Belichick has shown that it is valuable to trade for future high-end draft picks. The deal with the Ravens to acquire a future first that became Vince Wilfork, and this trade with the Jaguars to acquire a next year’s second round pick that would later be used to trade up for Gronk, are perfect examples.
It also helps that Belichick made one of the best 7th round selections of all-time by drafting an undervalued QB out of Kent State that would transitional almost flawlessly to the league’s best slot receiver.
The Jaguars selected CB Derek Cox with the 73rd pick, who had four decent seasons in Jacksonville, but the William & Mary graduate has been out of the league for five years now. Belichick decided to pass on the defensive back ,as well as other players on the board, by acquiring a next year’s second round pick and a seventh round pick. And it proved to be Belichick’s best Draft Day trade as a Patriot.
Featured image via Jason DeCrow/AP Photo