Patriots

ESPN rates Patriots’ 1st-round trade best deal of 2022 NFL Draft

But ESPN's Seth Walder questions whether or not the Cole Strange pick might have wasted the value the Patriots accrued in the trade.

Patriots Cole Strange
New England Patriots first-round draft pick Cole Strange pictured with Robert and Jonathan Kraft for the presentation of a ceremonial #1 jersey on the game field at Gillette Stadium. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

While Kendrick Bourne didn’t seem to like the move, trading back in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft might have been the best thing the Patriots did on Thursday night, according to the numbers at least.

ESPN’s Seth Walder proclaimed New England’s first-round trade with the Kansas City Chiefs to move down from pick No. 21 to No. 29 his top trade of the draft along with Houston’s deal to move down from the No. 13 overall pick that eventually sent Jordan Davis to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Patriots received the 29th, 94th and 121st picks in exchange for the Chiefs getting the No. 21 pick, which Kansas City used to take cornerback Trent McDuffie. According to Walder’s calculations, New England “won” the trade in terms of point value and gained a late second-round pick in the process.

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Though McDuffie will likely be a good player, there’s little reason to get hung up on what the Patriots might have missed out on, explains Walder.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Of course, the team went on to use the 29th pick in the draft on Cole Strange, which has drawn more than a few eyebrow raises and criticism after the fact. Walder wasn’t a fan, either.

“Did the Patriots squander that value by selecting Cole Strange at No. 29? I would argue yes,” he wrote. “One of the clearest errors a team can make is selecting a player long before they need to, and that seemed to be the case with Strange. Our Draft Day Predictor indicated there was a 93% chance Strange would be available at the Patriots’ second-round selection.”

Though there were several teams who reportedly liked Strange picking just after the Patriots within the top 40, taking the guard in the back end of the first round when there are contributors on defense to be had can still be classified as a reach. Still, some reaches are worth it. Time will tell if that’s the case here.

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In terms of the other picks acquired in the trade, the Patriots traded away the third-round pick (No. 94) to nab a late fourth-round pick (No. 137) that was used on quarterback Bailey Zappe. That deal also netted a 2023 third-round pick, which replaces the future third-rounder dealt away in exchange for receiver DeVante Parker and gives the Patriots two projected third-round picks in 2023 (including a third-round compensatory pick for the loss of J.C. Jackson in free agency).

Meanwhile, New England used the 121st pick to take Arizona State cornerback Jack Jones.

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