So I went back and did an analysis of the Patriots' history with trading back in the draft, to try to get a line on how frightened we should be about the Saints trade involving Mark Ingram. I wanted to see how often the Pats ended up winning these trade-back moves. In the process of doing so, I found myself particularly amazed by what they did with three recent draft picks. With three picks in the 2009 and 2010 drafts, they ended up with 10 roster players. Even with the Clay Matthews fiasco, it's a pretty amazing haul: ROUND 1, 2009, PICK #23 In the first round of 2009, the Pats started with pick #23 in the first round, then made the (to some) now-infamous series of trades that led to them passing up both Michael Oher and Clay Matthews for the immortal Darius Butler. But the final tally isn't quite as bad as it sounds. In the end, as has been discussed here ad nauseum, the tally ended up being Matthews and tackle Jamon Meredith for Butler, Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman, and about 95% of Rob Gronkowski. ROUND 3, 2009, PICK #89 The Pats had a ton of activity in the third round in that 2009 draft, but the key transaction was pick #89. We didn't get to see the final returns on this pick until this year's draft. They traded that 2009 third-round pick to the Titans, who took tight end Jared Cook. In return, they got a second-rounder the following year, which turned into pick #47. That pick the following year went in a trade to the Cardinals for pick #58 and pick #89 in the 2010 draft. They then dealt pick #58 to the Texans for pick #62, which turned into Brandon Spikes, and pick #150, which turned into Zoltan Mesko. The Pats then dealt pick #89 to the Panthers for a 2011 #2, which turned into Ras-I Dowling. To sum up this trade: The Pats had pick #89 in 2009. They surrendered that pick to the Titans for Jared Cook, a decent-ish tight end who had 29 receptions this year. In return, they got Brandon Spikes, Zoltan Mesko, and Ras-I Dowling. It should be noted that they started with pick #89, and even after acquiring Spikes and Mesko, they ended up with another pick #89, which turned into pick #33 the next year. ROUND 1, 2010, PICK 22 The Pats started with pick #22 in the 2010 draft, then traded down twice. The final tally on that trade ended up going something like this: Demariyus Thomas and A.J. Edds for Devin McCourty, Taylor Price and Aaron Hernandez. In sum, the Pats started with a 2009 #1 (#23), a 2009 #3 (89), and a 2010 #1 (22). They ended up with ten players out of those picks: Darius Butler, Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Spikes, Zoltan Mesko, Ras-I Dowling, Devin McCourty, Taylor Price and Aaron Hernandez. Out of that group, we have one Pro Bowler in McCourty, one probable future Pro Bowler in Gronkowski, an outstanding player in Hernandez, two quality starters in Spikes and Mesko, two contributors in Edelman and Tate, and a couple of upside picks in Price and Dowling. Butler is probably a bust, Price didn't see the field really as a rookie, and Dowling we don't know about yet, but seven contributing players for three picks is already a pretty good score. The three original selections they traded to get those players turned into Clay Matthews, Demariyus Thomas, and Jared Cook. Matthews is obviously the pick that hurts, but you can see the strategy here really clearly. You acquire more darts to throw at the board, which spreads out the risk so that your misses (Butler) are balanced out by hits (Gronkowski). And the fallout from all extra those dart throws is that you end up with free numbers and depth. I think what drives a lot of people on this board crazy is who they pick with those extra choices. They ignore needs and they've had a decent share of busts. But with merely average scouting and drafting they should come out ahead and have good youth and depth from year-to-year. Thoughts?