FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots were uncharacteristically quiet during the 2017 NFL Draft, instead choosing to do most of their work before Round 1 began.
Ahead of the draft, the Patriots used 2017 picks to trade for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, tight end Dwayne Allen and defensive end Kony Ealy. They used another to sign restricted free-agent running back Mike Gillislee, then swung a mid-draft trade for tight end James O’Shaughnessy.
The message was clear: The Patriots believed they could find more value by moving their selections than they could by using them on college prospects. The question, though, is why?
New England’s four-player draft class (defensive ends Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise and offensive tackles Antonio Garcia and Conor McDermott) was the smallest in franchise history. Was this an indication of a heightened desire to win now, with quarterback Tom Brady nearing his 40th birthday?
According to Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, Brady’s age did not influence the team’s draft strategy.
“I’d say that has zero to do with it,” Caserio said Saturday after the draft had concluded. “I would say really, the team-building process is very fluid in how it’s going to go. There’s no template. There’s no book of ‘look, here’s how it’s going to go.’ Look there’s a lot of really good players that were in this draft that have been drafted that are going to help their respective teams. We understand that, and we felt the same way.
“There were enough players up there that we felt good about. So we take the resources that we have, and we try to make the best decision for our team. It’s about trying to put the best team together.”
Some of the Patriots’ most significant decisions during the draft involved trades they did not make. Neither backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo nor cornerback Malcolm Butler were dealt, despite both receiving considerable interest from other NFL teams.
Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images
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