1. They've Struck Gold with Nearly Every First-Round Pick Since 2000
From Richard Seymour to Jerod Mayo, the Patriots have done remarkably well with talent evaluation in the first round this past decade. There really have only been a couple of questionable selections in Benjamin Watson and Laurence Maroney.
When you consider, though, that Watson was the last pick of the first round, a new light is shed on his being dubbed a first-round bust. Had he been taken one pick later, as the first pick of the second round, his career would take on a completely different shape.
Some might argue that with Pioli out of the front office, talent evaluation has dropped off drastically, but Belichick needs to trust his instincts and take the top-tier athlete he's lusting after.
2. It Sends the Wrong Message to New England's Locker Room and Fans
The Patriots have gotten away with trading down in the past. They traded down in 2004 and were still able to acquire Vince Wilfork.
But this is different than those days when the Patriots seemed to manufacture top-tier talent like a conveyor belt producing precise products at warp speed.
The Patriots need an elite player to let their fans and players know that they're dedicated to quickly returning to the promised land.
The guys in the locker room, meanwhile, may get the impression that the Patriots aren't trying to win now. The aging top talent on the team sorely begs that Kraft and Belichick grab the best guy available at No. 22 to utilize on any of the gaping holes on the roster.
In a time when the Patriots' every move is criticized beyond reasonable measure, the only way they could screw up is by reaching for a player they don't really need.
3. Quality over Quantity
Last year, the Patriots traded down, dealing their 23rd overall first-round pick to the Ravens, who added a second-round pick in the package. The Ravens got Michael Oher and the Patriots landed Sebastian Vollmer late in the second round.
Meanwhile, the Packers took outside linebacker Clay Matthews at No. 25. He went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie and racked up 55 tackles, 10 sacks on the quarterback, two forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries, one of which he took for a touchdown.
Had the Pats sat at 23, they could have nabbed a player like Matthews, but instead they traded down to add more depth. Although it wasn't the worst decision, that was last year. Now, with plenty of young depth, they can focus on bringing in a starting-caliber contributor to the team.
Sure, the Patriots don't have a third- or fifth-round pick, but they don't need one. They need to make use of a first-round pick by drafting an elite college athlete who will contribute quickly to a team that terribly needs him to.
Many have pointed out that there are something like 45 players with first-round grades in this year's draft. That being said, it can't hurt to have the best player possible of those 45.