NFL rumors: Patriots more likely to trade back than up in 2021 draft?

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Nick Goss
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NFL rumors: Pats more likely to trade back than up in 2021 draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Much of the talk surrounding the New England Patriots entering the 2021 NFL Draft involves whether they will trade up in the first round, potentially for a franchise quarterback or a game-changing wide receiver.

It would be foolish not to consider the opposite scenario taking place, though.

The Patriots are no strangers to trading down and acquiring more picks. They did it last year when head coach Bill Belichick dealt the No. 23 pick to the Los Angeles Chargers for second- and third-round selections, which gave New England five picks heading into Day 2 of the 2020 draft.

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What's the latest buzz with Thursday's first round about 48 hours away? Here is what ESPN draft expert Todd McShay reported Monday:

"Two separate sources within the league (not inside the Patriots organization) said New England is more likely to move back than up based on pre-draft conversations. So no, it doesn't sound like the Patriots are going up the board to get a QB. And like we all already know, moving back is more in line with what coach Bill Belichick likes to do on draft day."

Whether the Patriots move up or down in the first round might just depend on which players are available as their turn to pick at No. 15 overall inches closer. If a quarterback slides, maybe the Patriots move up for him. If the top five quarterbacks are all gone, it might make more sense to trade down and stockpile assets.

Here's another thing to consider: There's a 50-pick gap between the Patriots' second-round pick (No. 46 overall) and third-round pick (No. 96 overall). NFL Media's Mike Giardi reported Monday that some teams believe the Patriots will try to improve this situation. 

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Trading down in the first-round would be one way to address this gap between Day 2 picks.

The Patriots love to make draft day trades, and with 10 picks in total, Belichick has plenty of ammo to make deals. It should make for an exciting first two nights of the draft.