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Trading draft picks, the Patriot Way

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If there's one thing the Patriots do every year in the draft, it's trade draft picks. I'm not going to hold up the Pats as some beacon of great drafting - their '05-'08 drafts are as bad as any of the Bucs drafts from '00 to '07 - but they do know how to accumulate a ludicrous amount of picks. Every year it seems like they go into the draft with more picks than anyone, and then go out with more draft picks for the upcoming year. They do this by trading away players in the last year of their contract, but more importantly they do this through draft-day trading. The Patriots love to pick early in the second round and late in the first round, and it makes a lot of sense: because of the expense of high 1st-rounders, the best value for money is to be found later in the first round and early in the second, where the talent is still good but missing on a player isn't all that disastrous. So whenever the Pats have a high first-round pick, they try to trade back to accumulate more picks in that late-first/early-second round range. 

They also believe in drafting volume. They'll keep on trading back as long as it gets them more draft picks. The Pats are good at finding useful late-round players not just because they draft players for their system, but also because they simply draft a lot of them. And the more they draft, the bigger the chance that one of them works out. This is what I'd like to see the Bucs do this year as well: move back in the draft if no one they like is available. Picking at #20 in the first round it's possible no impact pass-rusher is available, or at least no pass rusher that they see as good value at that point. If that happens the Bucs should try to trade back to accumulate some more picks, and hope that sheer volume will bring them some good players. 

But there's one last type of trade the Pats consistently execute: a draft pick in the current draft for a future draft pick. Every year some team will fall in love with a player they can't select. And that's where the Patriots tend to come in: they'll gladly trade away their second-round pick for a first-round pick the next year. They can do this because they have a genuine long-term plan, while most front offices and coaches are working to improve immediately. In part, this occurs because every one of those decision maker is at risk of being fired if they don't perform the next year. So a draft pick right now would be worth more to them than one in the future which they may not be able to use. It's how the Patriots turned the 89th overall pick last year into the 33rd overall pick this year: because the Panthers felt they couldn't do without QB/WR Armanti Edwards. Who, of course, hasn't contributed much for the Panthers either. 

If the Bucs have the chance to give up a draft pick this year for a better one next year, they need to jump at this opportunity. Because in the long run this will let them accumulate more talent on their team, and more talent will always lead to more wins.