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The New England Patriots are in foreign territory. At the moment, the franchise is rocketing toward the most important NFL Draft under Robert Kraft's ownership as they own the No. 3 overall selection with a dire need at quarterback. Just how foreign is this position that New England is currently slotted in? Well, it's the highest pick of Kraft's ownership and the first time the team has been inside the top three since the 1993 draft when it selected Drew Bledsoe. The last time the Patriots were even inside the top 10 of the draft came back in 2008 when they selected ... Jerod Mayo, who was installed as the head coach earlier this offseason in place of Bill Belichick.

Needless to say, it's been a long time for the Patriots to own a pick of this magnitude, and this new regime, led by Eliot Wolf and Mayo, needs to make the correct decision to get the franchise back on track. Given how big of a need quarterback is for the team at the moment and that there are multiple highly touted prospects atop this draft, conventional wisdom would suggest New England stays put and selects a signal-caller to build around. However, stranger things have happened. Mayo and Kraft have both gone on record during this pre-draft cycle and said they'd be open to trading the pick, so let's dive into a few hypothetical scenarios where they do trade down.  

On top of that, we'll also take a look at a scenario where the Patriots trade into the back end of the first round to identify another key need. 

Trade down with Vikings

  • Patriots get: No. 11 overall, No. 23 overall, 2025 first-round pick
  • Vikings get: No. 3 overall

Minnesota has been a popular trade-up candidate throughout the pre-draft cycle, particularly when it acquired the No. 23 overall pick in a trade with the Texans. That gave the Vikings another piece of ammunition to use as they look to move inside the top five and bring aboard a successor to Kirk Cousins, who left in free agency. For New England, it is not simply a quarterback away from getting back into contention, with drastic needs at left tackle and wide receiver. So, if Wolf takes a realistic look at his roster, it's possible he will come away with the conclusion that the smarter move for a multi-year rebuild is to accumulate picks. Under this scenario, the Patriots would still have a viable shot at a QB prospect (Michael Penix Jr.?) at No. 11 and could use No. 23 to address another position of need. They'd also have what could prove to be a valuable first-rounder in 2025 depending on how quickly Minnesota can or cannot turn things around in a rapidly more competitive NFC North.

For more draft coverage, you can hear in-depth analysis twice a week on "With the First Pick" -- our year-round NFL Draft podcast with NFL Draft analyst Ryan Wilson and former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. You can find "With the First Pick" wherever you get your podcasts: Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube, etc.

Trade into the back end of the first round

  • Patriots get: No. 29 overall
  • Lions get: 2024 second-round pick (No. 34), 2024 fourth-round pick (No. 103) 

While a trade down with the Vikings is the most talked about potential deal for the Patriots, what if they stand pat at No. 3, take a quarterback, and then TRADE BACK into the first round? As we noted, this roster has plenty of needs outside of quarterback, specifically at left tackle and wide receiver. If it doesn't want to sacrifice the ability to draft a QB (whether it be Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, or J.J. McCarthy) atop the board, one route to securing another first-round talent is trading into the back end of the first round. 

This scenario has the Patriots moving up to No. 29 overall with the Lions, who gain No. 34 overall (the second overall pick in the second round) while picking up a fourth-rounder. Detroit may be inclined to move down five spots to add some more capital later in the draft. At the moment, there is a noticeable 72-pick gap on the Lions draft board between the third and fifth rounds. Gaining the fourth by moving down a few spots would give them a more balanced draft board. 

Meanwhile, the Patriots could move up to address one of those two positions of need. An offensive tackle like Oklahoma's Tyler Guyton could conceivably be on the board at No. 29 and New England would leapfrog Baltimore, which is another team with a clear need at tackle.

Trade down with Giants

  • Patriots get: No. 6 overall, 2024 second-round pick (No. 47), 2024 second-round pick (No. 70), 2025 second-round pick
  • Giants get: No. 3 overall

However unlikely, let's say the Patriots aren't sold on this QB class. Under that circumstance, it'd make sense for Wolf and the front office to get as much value as they can for the pick. A call to Minnesota would be an option (as we highlighted above), but what if they want to stay as close to the top five of this draft as possible? Well, the Giants are potentially in the quarterback market with Daniel Jones not establishing himself as a clear-cut franchise centerpiece over his tenure. If New York falls in love with Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy, maybe they'd be compelled to trade up three spots.

For the Patriots, moving down to No. 6 would give them an outside chance of a QB falling to them, but would also put them in prime position to draft one of the top wide receivers on the board like Malik Nabers or Marvin Harrison Jr., or they could opt for the best available tackle like Joe Alt. 

In terms of the trade itself, we used a deal that CBS Sports' R.J. White already concocted using his draft pick value chart. While New England wouldn't gain another first-rounder in this specific deal, they'd gain an array of second-rounders, which could allow them to bring in high-value talent at those selections or package them to get back into the first round.

Double trade! 

Trade No. 1 (trade down)

  • Patriots get: No. 11 overall, No. 23 overall, 2025 first-round pick
  • Vikings get: No. 3 overall

Trade No. 2 (trade up)

  • Patriots get: No. 4
  • Cardinals get: No. 11 (via Minnesota), No. 23 (via Minnesota), 2024 fourth-round pick (No. 103)

Is this going to happen? Absolutely not. But let's have a little fun as we gear up for the NFL Draft and do our best impression of Kevin Costner in the movie Draft Day. 

What if the Patriots are split between Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy (assuming Jayden Daniels is the No. 2 overall pick) with the difference being negligible? The club could strike the same deal with the Vikings that we discussed above and allow Minnesota to choose the quarterback it has its eye on at No. 3. Then, the Patriots could package No. 11 and No. 23 (among other assets) to jump back inside the top five to pick whichever QB is left while hanging onto that 2025 first rounder from the Vikings. Under this chaotic scenario, they'd move to No. 4 with Arizona. So, in a roundabout way, they'd trade down one spot, still come away with a quarterback, and pick up a 2025 first in the process. 

The Dolphins did a version of this in 2021 with the 49ers. They had the No. 3 pick, traded with San Francisco down to No. 12 (among gaining a plethora of other assets), and then traded back up to No. 6 with Philadelphia to draft Jaylen Waddle

Again, there's ZERO chance of this happening, especially with the draft just about a week away. A cascading turn of events of this magnitude would need to happen over a month before the draft, but it's a fun/silly barroom conversation nonetheless.