New England was originally slotted with the 22nd pick of the first round. Bill Belichick traded that to Denver for the 24th pick and a fourth-rounder. Then, the Pats unloaded No. 24 and a fourth-rounder to Dallas in exchange for No. 27 and a third-rounder.
The Cowboys used the 24th pick on Bryant, who has become one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the league when he's healthy. And he'll be at Gillette Stadium on Sunday to give the Patriots a first-hand look at what they passed up on — there was actually a report when the Patriots were on the clock indicating they selected Bryant.
At the end of the day, the Patriots made out just fine with that string of trades, using the 27th pick on cornerback Devin McCourty, the third-rounder on wide receiver Taylor Price and the fourth-rounder on tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Belichick said after the draft that he traded down twice because he believed McCourty would still be on the board, and that gamble obviously paid off immensely. Belichick addressed the pre-draft work they did on Bryant on Tuesday.
"We definitely did our work on Bryant," Belichick said. "I think the things that we see — he's a big receiver, a strong guy, hard to match up on outside, hard guy to tackle after the catch. He's got, like a lot of these receivers, it seems like we see one every week that have outstanding size or they're very strong. They have great reach, and even if you have them covered, you really don't have them covered because of their length, and their ability to either body up the defender, or just out-jump them or out-reach them for the ball. He's definitely in that category and a hard guy to tackle when he gets the ball in his hands."
Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said the Patriots "did a lot of work" on Bryant, among plenty of other players, and he was asked if the Pats considered taking him with the 24th pick, or if the plan was to trade the pick all along.
"Really, you sort of take the draft as it comes," Caserio said. "I think where you pick in that particular situation there's a handful of players that you think about picking in some capacity. Trades, if they happen, they happen. In the end, we make a decision that we feel is the best for our team. I'm sure Dallas is happy with the pick they made, and I would say we're thrilled with the player we have in our program, so I think it's worked out for both teams."
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