this draft seems to hit a talent "cliff" at around pick #75 or so. I would think the Pats would want to maximize their picks at the top...using the middle rounds to do it. If my take on this draft class is accurate, I doubt Belichick trades down just because he has done it in the past.
IMHO there were 2 key points in this thread. The one above and OJ's point about there being 15 or so blue chippers, before the first break in the talent curve occurs. Both will dictate which way the Pats will go in this draft.
Right now (before we see possible FA signings - ours and theirs) I can easily see us using our draft assets to move both UP and DOWN in this draft.
Here's what I fantasize.
We trade Mankins for a 2012 first round pick plus a 4th rounder this year.
We move Light down to LG and Volmer over to LT.
We use a 3rd and 4th round picks to move up in the draft to pick a selected impact player. it could be Cam Jordan (who I think will go in the top 12 by April) or someone else. But BB will want to get ONE of those "elite" players this season, because it could be a while before we see a pick this high again..
Since there is little difference between 28 and 45, It wouldn't surprise me to see BB use this pick to trade down and pick up another 2nd rounder in 2012 and still have 2 picks in the first 45. These 2 picks should net us a quality RT prospect and one of, (select any of the following): one the top 2 RBs in this draft, a one dimensional outside pass rush prospect, a deep threat big WR.
I have no idea who BB might pick but he'll have his choice of all those types of players.
So at the end of those 2 moves the Pats will AGAIN have 4 picks in the first 2 rounds of the 2012 draft plus more available cash to sign impact FAs (say a pass rush OLB)
They will end up with an OL of Volmer, Light, Koppen, Neal/Connolly, Kazcur/Levoir/high draft pick.
That I think will be a great OL - dynamic run blocking on the Left side. solid, talented, and deep on the right side
We have a talented DE (Jordan) who can also be a rush threat when we move to a 4 man line. We have the RT of the future or present, a (my guess) quality RB .....and we still haven't used our pick at 60
I agree with Metaphor that after we select our first 5 picks in the top 3 rounds, we were be better served to use our 4th and 5 round picks in this top heavy draft, to position our selves in either this or next year's draft. Then use our 6th rounder and/or UDFAs to find another gem.
Assuming we have a CBA, this is going to be the best year in FA history. It will drastically (IMHO) effect drafting strategies of all teams. The shear volume of available guys will keep prices down, and those teams who have the cash, will be able to rapidly improve their teams. The Pats will have some cash, and can selectively get a few fine, PROVEN, NFL players.
BOTTOM LINE - This fine young team is going to be more talented next year....and in the mix. You can't hate that.