Perry: Shaun Wade could provide meaningful CB depth


The Patriots sent a couple of Day 3 draft picks to Baltimore on Thursday in exchange for a guy who was taken on Day 3 just a few months ago. 

No big deal, right?

Well you know and I know that there's no such thing as "no big deal" when it comes to this team so let's kick around a few ideas on what this might mean for Bill Belichick's roster.

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First, the terms.

The Patriots acquired 2021 fifth-round draft choice Shaun Wade, a defensive back out of Ohio State, from Baltimore. The Ravens acquired a 2022 seventh-round pick and a 2023 fifth-round pick from the Patriots. 

Wade had a fascinating, and bumpy, tenure at Ohio State. A highly-regarded recruit, with the help of now Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley, Wade turned himself into a highly-effective slot-slash-safety prospect. He decided to return to Ohio State in 2020 in the hopes that he'd turn himself into a player considered to be a true boundary corner -- widely considered the more valuable position and typically the more highly-drafted one -- ahead of the 2021 draft. 

It didn't work out. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Wade allowed over 100 yards in three different games and a total of seven touchdowns. In eight games, PFF tracked him for having allowed 29 first downs or touchdowns. That's how a player many projected would be a first-round pick a year ago turns into a fifth-rounder.

But Wade has had a solid camp in Baltimore, and his inclusion in this deal is more a sign of the depth the Ravens have in the secondary than an indication of Wade's potential.

The question now for the Patriots is this: How does Wade fit in? Is he a slot corner who can play some safety? Is he a boundary corner, as he hoped he'd be at Ohio State?

The answer could be both, eventually. But Wade played primarily on the outside for Baltimore this preseason. Because the Patriots don't have much in the way of boundary corner depth at the moment, especially with Stephon Gilmore still on the physically unable to perform list, that's where Wade could begin his Patriots tenure.

Prior to Wade's arrival, J.C. Jackson has been the top outside-the-numbers guy in the Patriots secondary. After him, Joejuan Williams and Jalen Mills have both taken reps outside. Michael Jackson and core special-teamer Justin Bethel have also seen time on the outside in camp.

Had Williams and/or Mills compiled strong summer performances, perhaps the Patriots would feel satisfied with their depth on the outside. But with Gilmore unavailable, and with few Patriots making a consistent impact along the boundary behind Jackson, the depth Wade provides would have value.

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Wade may see time inside, where he was at his best as a collegian and where folks in Baltimore believe he has real promise. But at 6-foot-1, 196 pounds and with 33.5-inch arms, he has some physical tools that are hard to come by that could help him turn into a capable boundary patrolman.

This trade was just a couple of Day 3 draft choices for a guy who was taken on Day 3 of the draft earlier this year. But that doesn't make it any less interesting, particularly given some of the uncertainty inside the cornerback room in New England at the moment.

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