New England Patriots

Could Patriots explore NFL Draft trade from No. 34 to first round?

The Patriots reportedly may try to move up into the back half of the first round.

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Apparently Eliot Wolf meant what he said.

The New England Patriots' de facto general manager told reporters earlier this month his team is "open for business in the first round and in every round" of the 2024 NFL Draft.

"We're open to anything; moving up, moving down," Wolf said.

While the Patriots trading the No. 3 pick seems unlikely at the moment -- our Phil Perry has New England "sticking and picking" UNC quarterback Drake Maye in his latest mock draft, while our Tom E. Curran has reported it would take a massive trade offer for New England to move off the pick -- it's still possible the team deals another selection on draft weekend.

According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots have "explored what it could look like" move up to the "back half" of the first round by trading their second-round pick at No. 34 overall.

What might prompt such a move? Assuming the Patriots take a QB at No. 3, their next-most pressing needs are at offensive tackle and wide receiver. And while this draft class is deep at both positions, the OT or WR prospect they covet may not make it to No. 34, motivating Wolf and Co. to trade back up and land them.

And which prospects might be on their radar? Perry projects three talented wideouts going between picks No. 17 and No. 32: LSU's Brian Thomas Jr. (No. 19), Texas' Adonai Mitchell (No. 24) and South Carolina's Xavier Legette (No. 32). All three players would be great fits as boundary "X" receivers who can be a dynamic outside target for the new rookie QB, so if New England views enough of a talent drop-off after that Round 1 tier, it might be worth it to swing a trade.

Legette in particular is a name worth watching; the wideout admitted the Carolina Panthers told him they hoped he would fall to them at No. 33 overall, so the Patriots may have to move up to the first round if they want to take him, which is what's Peter Schrager has New England doing in his final mock draft by trading up to No. 32 and selecting Legette.

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At offensive tackle, Georgia's Amarius Mims, Oklahoma's Tyler Guyton and Arizona's Jordan Morgan all could be gone within the first 32 picks, and all would be strong fits for the Patriots if they're motivated to trade up. (Perry had New England trading up to No. 16 to take Guyton in a mock draft earlier this offseason.)

The wild card in all of this? The Patriots also are exploring trades for a veteran receiver, according to Curran, and the No. 34 pick also could be used to acquire a talented wideout like San Francisco's Brandon Aiyuk.

Long story short? Patriots fans shouldn't tune out after the No. 3 pick on Thursday night, even if the team takes a QB there.

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