ESPN’s Crazy ‘All-Trades’ NFL Mock Draft Has Patriots Landing Superstar

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick

Photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images

There are NFL mock drafts, and then there are NFL mock drafts like the one published Monday on ESPN.com, in which Bill Barnwell mapped out trades for every single pick in the first round.

It’s a wild exercise, obviously, and one done strictly for entertainment purposes. But with trades becoming such an integral part of the draft (and the months and weeks leading up to the draft), it’s an interesting way to look at each pick’s apparent value and each team’s remaining offseason needs.

Here are the general rules, per Barnwell:

Every year, I produce a mock that heads all the way in the opposite direction. Instead of a draft with no picks traded, this is the mock in which each and every first-round pick gets swapped. No selection is left behind. The goal is to try to create a trade for each pick that makes sense for two (or more) parties given their respective histories and present needs. I’m not saying I would suggest any teams should actually execute these trades, but if there’s a team like the Dolphins with a track record of trading up and have a need at a key position, it makes sense to build a trade in which they do so.

Barnwell did a similar mock draft last year and suggested a blockbuster in which the Cleveland Browns traded the No. 1 overall pick and landed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who in reality was traded from the New England Patriots to the San Francisco 49ers months later at the NFL trade deadline. The Patriots ended up with defensive end Myles Garrett and wide receiver Josh Gordon in Barnwell’s hypothetical trade, which also saw the New Orleans Saints land cornerback Malcolm Butler.

The Browns own the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after an 0-16 season, and Barnwell again has them swapping the selection for a franchise quarterback. This time, it’s Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck, who missed the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury.

Here’s his hypothetical trade…

Browns receive: QB Andrew Luck, 2018 first-round pick (sixth overall), 2019 fourth-round pick.
Colts receive: 2018 first-round pick (first overall), 2018 first-round pick (fourth overall), 2018 second-round pick (35th overall), 2019 first-round pick.

Barnwell made a case for the Patriots trading up to No. 4, where they could select Tom Brady’s successor. But he also suggested an even splashier hypothetical trade involving the No. 23 pick, which New England recently acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in a trade for wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

Here’s the deal, which involves the Patriots landing New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr…

Patriots receive: WR Odell Beckham Jr., CB Eli Apple, 2018 third-round pick (69th overall), 2019 fourth-round pick.
Giants receive: 2018 first-round pick (23rd overall), 2018 first-round pick (31st overall), 2018 sixth-round pick (198th overall), RB Mike Gillislee, WR Chris Hogan.

It seems very unlikely the Patriots would unload their draft capital for a package centered around OBJ, who’s been the subject of trade rumors all offseason. Not only does the Giants’ asking price figure to be high, Beckham also is slated to become a free agent after this season, and his contractual demands could be through the roof. Why would New England surrender a bevy of picks for a rental?

Well, here’s Barnwell’s explanation:

If the Giants were constructing a checklist for a Beckham trade, this would hit most of their boxes. They’re dealing the former LSU star to an AFC team that they’ll see only once every four years. They get two first-round picks, which is the reported asking price in a Beckham deal, although both come relatively late on Day 1. They get a replacement who can step in immediately for Beckham with Hogan, who is entering the final year of his three-year, $12 million deal and is in line for a contract the Patriots aren’t likely to hand out. Gillislee is included as a risk-free power back if 31-year-old Jonathan Stewart shows up for camp with nothing left in the tank.

The Patriots obviously get a game-breaking receiver who will serve as a primary target both for Tom Brady and whoever ends up as Brady’s permanent replacement, given that Beckham is still only 25 years old. New England doesn’t have the unlimited cap space a team acquiring Beckham might want, but if Rob Gronkowski really is retiring after this season, it would free up $10 million that could go to Beckham. The Patriots also would get to take a buy-low look at Apple, who nearly played his way off the Giants’ roster last year but looked like a starting cornerback over the second half of his rookie season in 2016.

Again, don’t read too much into this particular mock draft. It’s a wacky alternative to the abundance of standard mock drafts floating around the internet and should be treated as such. But isn’t it fun to think about a world in which Beckham joins Brady and Bill Belichick in New England?

Click for the full all-trades mock draft >>

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