Coming into this year's draft, the accepted conventional wisdom said that Bill Belichick doesn't trade up in the first round. Trade down, even out of the round, yes, history clearly pointed to that. But trade up? That's just not his style.
Fast-forward to the first round and the Patriots traded up not once, but twice in the round to land defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Belichick wanted the trade-ups badly enough to leave the team without any picks beyond the second round, which forced the team trade out of late second in a big loser of a deal on the pick value chart to salvage more picks.
Now we get word from Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com that he believes the Patriots were trying move up even higher than No. 21 for Jones. Reiss, one of the most trusted and level-headed voices on all things Patriots, writes that he thinks the Patriots were in talks to move up as soon as the first edge rusher, Bruce Irvin, went to the Seahawks at No. 15.
This theory makes sense because the teams picking between 16 and 20 (New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers, Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans) were all candidates to take Jones, especially the Bears and Titans, who were clearly in the market for a defensive end suitable to play in a 4-3 defense.
The Patriots are known for playing the draft very well. They always add extra picks and find themselves set up very well going into the following year's draft. This year, Belichick flipped the script and bet big on Jones and Hightower. Reiss understands why, saying Jones was poised and articulate. Reiss writes that Patriot first-round picks are reserved for "sure things," and that it's easy to see how Jones (and Hightower) fall into that category. Landing Jones, on the other hand, wasn't a sure thing until the Patriots traded up to the 21st pick, and it sounds like they were willing to give even more to get a player they were so certain about heading into the draft.