Will the Patriots regret not trading up for Xavier Legette?

Will the Patriots regret not trading up for Xavier Legette? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots played it safe and addressed several needs at the 2024 NFL Draft, but should they have gone with a more aggressive approach by trading up to secure more talented players? NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry is among those wondering if New England could have done more, specifically at the wide receiver position.

Placing an emphasis on offense, New England added weapons in wideouts Ja'Lynn Polk and Javon Baker with picks No. 37 and 110, respectively. Some fans were surprised to see the Patriots taking Polk with Texas receiver Adonai Mitchell still on the board -- the Indianapolis Colts eventually took Mitchell at pick No. 52 -- but Perry was left wondering if New England should have traded up to take South Carolina's Xavier Legette.

"I liked both Ja'Lynn Polk and Javon Baker, I like them, but I would have loved Xavier Legette," Perry said on the latest episode of Arbella Early Edition. "Xavier Legette, to me, has the upside to be a legit No. 1 receiver at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, runs a 4.3 [second 40-yard dash]."

Legette, who played five years at South Carolina, had a slow start to his college career -- 423 yards on 42 receptions with five touchdowns in his first four years -- but emerged as an NFL prospect in his fifth season. Posting 1,255 yards on 71 receptions with seven touchdowns, Legette became the team's primary target.

The Carolina Panthers liked what they saw in Legette, so they made a deal with the Buffalo Bills to trade up in the draft to get their guy, swapping picks No. 33 and 141 for picks No. 32 and 200.

"Mike Reiss reported over the weekend that [the Patriots] tried to trade into the back end of the first round," Perry added. "I wouldn't be stunned if it was for Legette. He would have given you more upside as opposed to, again, the safer player -- the single or double in Ja'Lynn Polk and later Javon Baker."

Polk and Baker both bring a lot to the table, with Polk boasting great hands and Baker being an elite route runner, but analysts across the league put both of their ceilings at WR2. While they can be great options for a rookie QB in Drake Maye, the Patriots played in safe in their selections, likely trying to avoid another N'Keal Harry situation.

"That's one big-picture critique that I have," Perry added. "Could you have done a little bit more, in terms of trading up into the back end of the first round and making sure that you nab that guy that you really wanted?"

The Patriots went in the opposite direction, instead trading down from pick No. 34 to pick No. 37 in a deal with the Chargers, also receiving Los Angeles' No. 110 pick in exchange for pick No. 137. With Legette taken off the board at pick No. 32, it could be assumed that the Patriots liked Legette, and once he was no longer available, they decided to move down for Polk. Instead of trading down, should they have tried to move up?

"Do you get aggressive and really get the guy? How aggressive did they try to be?" Perry questioned of the Patriots' draft strategy, as seen in the YouTube video below. "I can tell you I know the Chiefs were surprised at how little they had to give up to go from 32 to 28 with Buffalo."

The Kansas City Chiefs saw a speed threat in Xavier Worthy and knew it would be a perfect pairing with Patrick Mahomes, so they made a deal with the Bills, swapping picks No. 32, 95, and 221 for picks No. 28, 133, and 248. Considering how little the Chiefs gave up guarantee they got their target, should the Patriots have followed suit to guarantee Legette?

NBC Sports Boston's Tom Curran then chimed in, wondering if the Patriots should have packaged their mid-round picks that turned into Baker and offensive guard Layden Robinson to move up to take Legette.

"[If you make that trade], then you are in a situation where you're giving up resources to move up a couple [spots], then you can say, 'Well all right, Xavier [Legette] might be a triple, but we're going to get a stand-up double out of Ja'Lynn Polk," Curran said.

All in all, New England's front office -- led by Eliot Wolf -- smartly used the draft to fill out their team needs, starting with their offense. At the end of the day, despite missing out on Legette, using their picks to add some weapons and build out their o-line to protect their new quarterback can easily be seen as a successful use of draft picks.