Patriots Swung Best Trade Of 2022 NFL Draft? ESPN Analytics Offer Proof

Now, whether New England capitalized is a different debate


May 6, 2022

The Patriots’ decision to trade back in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft definitely elicited some groans, as New England really needs an influx of top-level talent and Bill Belichick is known for trying to zig while everyone else zags, for better or worse.

But the Patriots’ draft-night trade with the Kansas City Chiefs actually might have been justified when you take into account the value New England added with its return.

The Patriots traded the 21st overall pick in the first round to the Chiefs for picks No. 29 (first round), 94 (third round) and 121 (fourth round).

According to ESPN’s draft pick value chart, New England won the deal, acquiring 6.4 chart points while surrendering 4.1 chart points. This, per ESPN Analytics, equates to a surplus value of a late second-round pick.

ESPN’s Seth Walder on Friday ranked this year’s five best pick-for-pick, in-draft trades — in terms of surplus value created for the winning side — and the Patriots-Chiefs deal tied for No. 1.

Here’s what Walder wrote:

The overwhelming conclusion of charts based on actual player performance is that the difference in production you get out of a player selected at, say, pick No. 29 is much closer to what you get out of pick No. 21 than trades typically indicate. Yes, the player selected at 21 has a better career outlook, but the difference between them and a player at 29 is substantially smaller than the value of additional third-round and fourth-round selections.

As far as the trade itself, New England absolutely comes out ahead.

It’s worth emphasizing Walder’s rankings don’t take into account trades involving players (like, say, the Tennessee Titans trading wide receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles for picks No. 18 and 101) or deals made before the draft.

And one could argue the Patriots dropped the ball by reaching for Chattanooga guard Cole Strange at No. 29. He might’ve still been available the next time Belichick and company were on the clock.

But all in all, after taking names out of the equation, New England seemingly did well by landing a third-rounder and a fourth-rounder in exchange for moving back eight spots in Round 1.

Thumbnail photo via Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal via USA TODAY Sports Images
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