New England Patriots: 5 Creative Moves Bill Belichick Should Make on Draft Day
Draft day is rapidly approaching for the New England Patriots, bringing with it speculation as to what creative moves Bill Belichick may have up his sleeve this year. The obvious team needs at tight end and the front seven will certainly be addressed, but there are likely to be some curveballs as well.
Will the team take another flyer on a wide receiver? Is it time to make some tough decisions on the trade front? What does the future look like at the quarterback position? These are some of the burning questions that we might see answered during this year's draft from May 8-10.
To answer those questions, here are five unorthodox moves that the Patriots should strongly consider during the draft.
Trade Danny Amendola
Danny Amendola was supposed to fill the hole that Wes Welker left in the middle of the New England passing game. Things haven't quite worked out that way, though. Amendola spent a good chunk of the 2013 season on the injury list and failed to develop any meaningful synergy with Tom Brady, barely sniffing the field during pivotal moments in the team's deep playoff run.
His cap hits in 2016 and 2017 are particularly bothersome as well. When one considers the long-term salary concerns, his chronic injury issues and Julian Edelman's emergence in the slot, Amendola suddenly begins to look mighty expendable.
The Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs would be prime candidates to approach regarding a deal for Amendola. The Chiefs failed to sign a big-name wide receiver in the offseason, and the Eagles have a DeSean Jackson-size hole in their offense now.
No matter who the suitor, however, dealing Amendola would enable the Patriots to quickly turn the page on what was likely a bad signing, while still extracting value in return for the one-year investment the team made in him.
Trade Ryan Mallett
Ryan Mallett will not be a New England Patriot come next year. His rookie contract expires at the end of the season, and MassLive's Nick Underhill has already reported that the Houston Texans are interested in obtaining his services.
In today's quarterback-driven league, there's as much a premium on potential as there is proven talent. Mallett hasn't seen much field time as Tom Brady's backup, but he was one of the most highly regarded quarterback talents in the 2011 draft. Serving as an understudy to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time for the past three seasons certainly hasn't hurt either.
The Cleveland Browns and the Minnesota Vikings are both in desperate need of legitimate talent behind center. There are never any guarantees in football, but Mallett would offer considerably more upside than either of the quarterbacks currently sitting atop the respective depth charts of those clubs. In return, the Patriots would get value for a player that's a lock to depart via free agency.
Draft Tre Mason
Drafting Tre Mason may seem like a stretch, but with LeGarrette Blount's departure and Bill Belichick's penchant for SEC running backs, the move isn't as unfathomable as some might think. He brings a downhill style to the table that the team's other rushers lack at times and is solid in pass protection as well.
Touted as perhaps the best draft prospect at running back, Mason's value comes in the fact that it likely wouldn't cost the Patriots a first-round pick to snag him. By executing either of the aforementioned trades, it's likely the team could pick up an extra pick and use it on Mason, who, if nothing else, would motivate Stevan Ridley to deal with his fumble problems once and for all.
Mason's 40-yard dash time of 4.5 seconds isn't anything to write home about, but it's not like New England is going to be asking him to clear the edges. His value is between the tackles, especially late in games. Don't be surprised if New England springs a deal to pick up Mason in the second round.
Draft Jordan Matthews
Jordan Matthews is the all-time SEC leader in receptions and receiving yards, but you wouldn't know it given the lack of hype surrounding his draft stock. Scouts have been particularly critical of his speed, although he ran a surprising 40-yard dash time of 4.46 seconds at the combine.
The New England passing attack has been predicated on finesse and execution for years now, but Matthews brings a new dynamic to the table. With his length and size, he would add a new dimension to the passing game and give Tom Brady a much-needed alternative to Rob Gronkowski in the red zone. He wouldn't need to outrun defenders as much as he would be asked to make tough, physical catches in tight spaces.
His most impressive quality, however, is his work ethic. His preparation is so meticulous that he asked for tape on opposing cornerbacks at the Senior Bowl. This workman-like philosophy would likely give him a natural synergy with Brady, who is equally as obsessive in his approach to studying the game.
If New England can manage to offload Amendola, replacing him with Matthews could potentially be a game-changer.
Draft AJ McCarron
AJ McCarron isn't drawing the type of love from scouts as Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater, but the former Alabama quarterback has a great deal of hidden upside. He's comfortable in a pro-style offense, his decision-making is impeccable, and he has consistently won at the highest level.
The big knock against McCarron is his arm strength, which, by most accounts, is average at best. Of course, Tom Brady didn't exactly sport a cannon for an arm when he came into the league. In fact, many of the beefs that scouts have with McCarron are eerily similar in nature to those they had with Brady.
One way or another, Ryan Mallett will not be on the roster after this season. This makes finding a backup (and perhaps successor) to Tom Brady paramount. Given Belichick's ties to Nick Saban and McCarron's intangibles, don't be surprised if New England takes a flyer on him in the third round.