Commentary

Patriots could benefit from draft change

Updated: March 24, 2010, 2:45 PM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Could the "Shonn Greene Effect" be a major factor in the New England Patriots' draft this year?

It was a question to ponder after listening to Bill Belichick at the NFL owners meetings Tuesday.

Last year, one of the best draft decisions came when the New York Jets traded up to select Greene with the opening pick of the third round. A key factor was that the Jets weren't on the clock while making the trade, as the first two rounds had been completed, allowing them the overnight and early morning to formulate their plan to target Greene without the pressure of the moment bearing down on them.

"I think the emotion dies down and you sleep on it," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said Tuesday at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. "We decided we'd make one call to Detroit because of the value he had on our board, and if the price was right, we would go ahead and do it."

If not for the overnight break and early-morning restacking of the draft board, Tannenbaum doubts the Jets would have made the trade for Greene, even though he was, by far, their highest-rated player at that point.

It took an aggressive sales job from coach Rex Ryan and top personnel men Joey Clinkscales and Terry Bradway the next morning to convince Tannenbaum to make the move.

So how does the Jets' trade up for Greene -- the impressive running back who totaled 540 yards in the 2009 regular season -- apply to the Patriots this year?

Belichick made the point Tuesday that trades in the draft are often most active after an overnight break -- and this year's first break comes before the second round, a round in which the Patriots have three selections.

The trade for Greene is one example of how an overnight break can spark a trade, but it's far from the only one. Last year, the Patriots dealt two of their third-round draft choices for 2010 second-round picks, swaps that seemed to be aided by Jacksonville and Tennessee having the overnight and early morning to reassess their boards.

That could make the Patriots' three second-round selections this year desirable assets. Although the Patriots have pressing needs on their roster, it will be enticing to them if a team offers a 2011 first-round pick for one of those second-round chips.

Or perhaps the Patriots use those chips to go in the other direction and trade up to the top spot in the second round if they feel as strongly about a player as the Jets did with Greene.

"I'm sure there will be some interest in those picks," Belichick told reporters at the AFC coaches breakfast. "I can't imagine [otherwise] because that's usually the way it is when you have multiple picks after the draft just stopped at a point, and you've restarted."

Last year, the NFL held the first two rounds on one day, then Rounds 3 through 7 on the next day. That contributed to the third round being particularly active with trades. This year, Round 1 takes place on a Thursday night, with the second and third rounds on Friday and Round 4-7 on Saturday.

The Jets' aggressive move for Greene was the most notable swap, with New York sending a 2009 third-rounder, 2009 fourth-rounder and 2009 seventh-rounder to the Lions. In Detroit, the phones in the draft room started buzzing about an hour before the third round was to begin.

"At the last minute, all of a sudden it started heating up," Lions coach Jim Schwartz recalled Tuesday. "Any time you give 32 teams time to reconvene, to spend one hour, two hours, three hours plotting a strategy to make a deal and come to a group decision, you're going to get more action."

On the draft value chart that assigns a point value to picks, the Lions received 276 points in the swap. The Jets got 265, which reflects how teams are often willing to give up a little value if they feel strongly enough about a particular player.

Whether that happens to the Patriots in the second round this year is one of the unknowns that Belichick is curious to see unfold.

"I don't know whether that will happen or not. I think it's certainly a possibility because historically that's been the way it's gone," he said. "To move up you have to give up something, and it's a question of whether there are teams that want to do that. I've been sitting there before thinking, 'If we could just get anything for this -- a case of beer, a gift certificate -- we'd gladly trade this pick.' But there are no takers. You just never know how that's going to go."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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