A lot can be learned about what to expect in the NFL draft from studying years past.
One particular element of the history that could prove interesting this year is what teams do when they enter the draft with two first round picks. Since 2001, a team has entered draft weekend with two first round picks on 21 occasions.
This year will make 22 as the New England Patriots hold both the 17th and 28th picks in the draft.
This will also mark the third time in the last decade that the Patriots have come into the draft with two first rounder (a fourth time was ruined when they had to forfeit their pick as a result of Spygate).
For a team known for wheeling and dealing on draft day, the Patriots history with two first round picks is rather predictable: They like to trade them.
In 2003, they traded one of their first round picks to Arizona for an extra pick on draft day and a 2004 first rounder. In 2007, the Patriots traded one of their first rounders to the 49ers for a fourth round pick and a 2008 first round pick.
In fact, trades are common with teams other than New England as well. Over a third of teams with two draft picks have traded one of their first rounders.
While only the Jets, Patriots, Saints and Eagles have used those two picks as a package to move up the board significantly or acquire a star from another team (as the Eagles did when they landed Jason Peters from Buffalo), many NFL franchises, use one of their picks and subsequent picks in later rounds to climb higher in the draft.
With that second first round pick in their pocket, many teams find the courage to take a risk and make a play for a specific player, like last year when San Francisco did so in order to draft Rutgers OT Anthony Davis.
However, with no CBA in place this year, it may be less likely that the Patriots keep to their trend of trading one of their two picks for a future first rounder. They may stand pat, which could make predicting their move even more confusing.
In the past decade, 16 teams who came into the draft with two first rounders have used both picks; nine times, those two players played positions on the same side of the ball, while seven times players were drafted from opposite sides.
Not exactly telling numbers.
The numbers that do reveal a particular trend are reflected in the efficiency of the picks. More often than not, the teams that select two players are likely to miss on one of their picks.
Discounting the two instances last year (49ers took Mike Iupati/Anthony Davis and the Seahawks took Earl Thomas/Russell Okung), 10 of the 14 teams drafted one player who didn’t turn into a solid NFL starter.
In 2001, Seattle hit with Steve Hutchinson, but missed on Koren Robinson and St. Louis missed on Adam Archuleta and landed an inconsistent Ryan Pickett. In 2002, the Raiders landed a solid, but unspectacular player in Phillip Buchanon, but missed on Napoleon Harris, while the Saints seemed to hit on both Charles Grant and Donte Stallworth, but both proved unable to achieve consistent success.
The list goes on.
Even the Patriots themselves missed in 2004, when they landed Vince Wilfork, but used their second selection on Georgia Tight End, Ben Watson, who has never become a complete NFL player, despite finally producing this past season, after seven years in the league.
Using history and the Patriots draft philosophy as a model, it would normally be safe to assume that the Patriots will trade one of their two first rounders this year.
However, since a new CBA is still far away, look for the Patriots to stay put and select one player who may never quite pan out.
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