How Rams-Patriots Mega Trade Could Affect Baltimore
Remember how the New England Patriots had just four picks for the ENTIRE draft last year?
That was nice.
Now, they have four picks in the first TWO ROUNDS. They stockpiled a pair of first-rounders (Nos. 23 and 31) and another pair of second-rounders (Nos. 43 and 63) after two mega trades.
They got their extra second-round pick by trading quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers in November. And yesterday, they sent wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-rounder to the Los Angeles Rams for first- and sixth-rounders.
The Pats now total eight picks in a draft that isn't known for its top-end talent, but offers plenty of depth and potential starters throughout.
Now everyone is wondering what the Patriots will do with their new assets. It's no secret they are looking for 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady's eventual successor, and this draft class offers several options in the first round.
New England could stay put and use its four early-round picks on several areas of need, including wide receiver, left tackle, cornerback and a second-tier quarterback. Or, the Patriots could package some of their new picks to move up and get a quarterback they covet.
"The Patriots absolutely should be a factor if Lamar Jackson makes it into the middle of the round, and it's entirely possible they could get even higher up in the round if they decide they want to do it," wrote ESPN's Dan Graziano.
The middle of the round, you say? Where the Ravens own the No. 16 pick?
Ravens fans have been beating the drum for the Baltimore to move back, acquire more draft capital, and select a pass-catcher toward the end of the first round. They wouldn't hate it if Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick called General Manager Ozzie Newsome to see what it would take to move from No. 23 to 16.
It could make for an intriguing draft night.
"That selection could be made in a position gained by packaging some of the aforementioned picks, or could be one pick spent on a quarterback considered a second-tier prospect in this class (Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, for example)," wrote NFL.com's Nick Shook.
"New England could instead use the other picks to address needs elsewhere, which are numerous after multiple players left via free agency. Either way, the Cooks deal creates flexibility, which has always been key to Bill Belichick's team-building process."
Trade Likely Means Rob Gronkowski and OBJ Stay Put
The trade speculation for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. should die down with yesterday's news.
The Rams were reportedly the most aggressive team in trying to get Beckham, but now that they've used their first-rounder on Cooks, they no longer have the ammunition.
"Inside the Rams the feeling was they weren't going to denude two straight drafts and pay an excellent receiver quarterback money," wrote MMQB's Peter King. "I'd think there’s very little chance, unless the price comes way down, for the Giants to move Beckham now."
Speculation also arose that the Patriots might trade Gronkowski. MMQB's Albert Breer reported that a couple teams could make offers for the Pro Bowl tight end, but now it seems like a far-fetched idea after the Pats just moved Cooks, who notched 65 catches and 1,082 yards last year.
"The Patriots, I'm told, tried to re-sign Cooks beyond this final year of his deal," wrote King. "But that was problematic because they didn't view him (or any receiver) as being worth $15-17 million a year, and because of the domino effect it would have had to pay any pass-catcher significantly more than tight end Rob Gronkowski (due $8.9 million in salary and bonuses this year)."
Will Cleveland Browns Contend for a Playoff Spot After Offseason Additions?
The Cleveland Browns have undergone quite the makeover this offseason, and the draft is still weeks away in which they have two of the first four picks.
Among the changes include a new offensive coordinator, new starting quarterback, new top receiver and they have a chance to draft the best running back in the class.
All were legit moves that were praised, but is it enough to go from a 1-31 record over the last two seasons to seriously contend for a playoff spot this year? Are they a serious threat to the Ravens and the rest of the AFC North?
Well, ESPN writers from all division teams gave their two cents, and none of them think the Browns will suddenly become a nine- or 10-win team.
"The Browns have improved, and they will improve more with the draft, but the playoffs are still not on the horizon in 2018," wrote Cleveland beat writer Pat McManamon.
"It's simply a hurdle that is too tough to overcome in one offseason and one season. This isn't to say it can't work. [Tyrod] Taylor already has been throwing to his new receivers, according to social media posts. [Jarvis] Landry and Josh Gordon will work at it. But the Browns have tried this reshaping of an offense in the past, and it's simply tough to bring it together. They could be the one team to make it happen, but the odds aren't with them. Fans will appreciate an improved and competitive team, but the playoffs are still a year away."
Ryan Jensen Believes Bucs Are Ready to Win Now
Former Ravens center Ryan Jensen said part of the reason he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason is because he feels the team is ready to win now.
The Bucs were expected to take a leap forward last year, but it instead regressed from 9-7 to 5-11. Jensen sees a rebound in store.
"Looking at Tampa Bay's roster, we’ve got a lot of young talent," Jensen told SiriusXM NFL Radio, per ProFootballTalk.com. "We just signed Mike Evans back and everything like that, so I just felt Tampa, the way things are going there, that it's going to be kind of a win-now type of a situation. And I thrive in that kind of situation."
Something tells me that wasn't the only reason why Jensen chose the Bucs.
"Jensen also mentioned the style of offense in Tampa as part of the reason he chose them over the Colts and the whole package was likely made more appealing to the former Raven when the Bucs offered him a four-year, $42 million contract," wrote PFT's Josh Alper.