Whether it’s due to positional value, medical concerns, or teams simply drafting for need, every year prospects with first-round talent slide through the cracks into the early second round. This year will be no exception to that reality. With the NFL Draft nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good time to highlight six first-round talents that the Patriots should consider trading up for if they slide to round two.
Because New England has a relatively high number of draft picks (10) and a very limited number of roster spots, consolidating picks and moving up for a first-round talent in round two of the draft makes sense. We should note that this strategy would change if New England moves up for a quarterback in round one. However, if things stay as they currently are, their situation makes trading up in the second round a worthwhile option.
While most of the players listed in this article aren’t expected to be available in round two, there’s a chance each one of them could slide for various reasons. Let’s hop right into our list!
S Trevon Moehrig, TCU
Why he could slide: In recent years, teams have seemingly devalued the safety position. Trevon Moehrig, the top safety in this year’s class, could potentially fall victim to that perceived positional value.
Why should the Patriots consider trading up: The Patriots have a bigger need at cornerback than they do at safety, but New England will eventually need a free safety replacement for Devin McCourty when he decides to call it a career. Pairing Moehrig with Kyle Dugger on the backend for the foreseeable future is an enticing thought.
Moehrig would give New England an excellent cover safety capable of playing in multiple different roles. In New England, he would fit nicely in the single high role. With Moehrig playing single-high it would allow the Patriots the freedom to move Dugger around as a matchup-dependent chess piece. If Moehrig can be had in round two, the Patriots should strongly consider moving up. He just doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses in his game.
CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
Why he could slide: Caleb Farley’s recent back surgery has resulted in his draft stock taking quite a hit. It’s been difficult for teams to get comprehensive medical information on prospects this year, which could result in teams being unsure about his health moving forward.
Why should the Patriots consider trading up: Farley was arguably the top prospect at his position before concerns over his back surgery came to the forefront. His 2019 season was absolutely remarkable. His rare combination of size, length, quickness, and overall athleticism make him very appealing to any team in need of a cornerback.
With both Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson currently only under contract through the 2021 season, the Patriots shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger if Farley is available at the top of round two. His injury history may be concerning, but the upside is massive.
OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
Why he could slide: There are some questions as to whether Teven Jenkins will be better suited playing tackle or guard at the next level. Those questions open the door for Jenkins to potentially become a round two selection, instead of a round one selection.
Why should the Patriots consider trading up: With Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn in the last year of their respective contracts, adding a young promising tackle for the future would be ideal.
Throughout his collegiate career, Jenkins has played left tackle, right tackle, and some right guard. That’s exactly the type of versatility the Patriots love. He’s an extremely aggressive player. His power is flat-out fun to watch. If New England were to add another mauler like Jenkins to an already great offensive line, watch out.
WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
Why he could slide: Rashod Bateman is a first-round talent, but he didn’t have as good of a 2020 season as he did in 2019. He also came in a few inches shorter and about 20 pounds lighter at his Pro Day than he had been listed at all season. All that combined could push him down draft boards.
Why should the Patriots consider trading up: Bateman has experience lining up in the slot or outside, which is a must in the Patriots’ offense. He has excellent releases and he’s a refined route runner. Bateman just knows how to create separation. If you want a guy that can get open consistently, Bateman is your guy. He’s probably very unlikely to slip out of the first round, but if he does, he’ll be one of the biggest steals of day two.
LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
Why he could slide: The 2021 class of linebackers is a deep one, and the league seems to have devalued the position as of late. These two factors combined could lead to a slide.
Why should the Patriots consider trading up: Standing 6’4″ and weighing 259 lbs, Zaven Collins is a very big linebacker. Don’t get it twisted though, Collins isn’t some big slow linebacker, he’s also a good athlete. He can rush the passer, stop the run, and drop into coverage. Collins in the New England system is a match made in heaven. In fact, he has often been compared to Dont’a Hightower. If the Patriots can find a Hightower prototype in the early second round it’s a no-brainer to trade up.
WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
Why he could slide: At 5’9″, Elijah Moore doesn’t have the height some teams look for in wideouts. In a strong wide receiver class, and Moore as more of a slot guy, he could slide to round two.
Why should the Patriots consider trading up: Despite acquiring some wide receiver help in free agency, the Patriots could still use additional firepower at the postion. Moore is both extremely fast and quick. In addition to his athletic traits, Moore rarely dropped the ball in college, which says something about his ability to take a hit and hang onto the ball as a smaller receiver. He plays a lot bigger than his size. The Patriots have lacked elusiveness on offense in recent years, but Moore would change that very quickly. He can be used to create after the catch in the screen game, but he can also run routes and get himself open.
If the Patriots end up with any of these prospects in round two of the NFL Draft it’ll be a huge win for New England.