The 2011 NFL Draft begins Thursday night, with the first round airing in primetime. The New England Patriots have two picks in the opening round, three of the first 33 selections and six picks overall in the first three rounds. But, as Bill Belichick and company are known to do, there is already talk that their picks will be involved in some draft-day dealings.
SB Nation's 2011 NFL Mock Draft has already detailed the Pats trading up to No. 13 to land Alabama's Julio Jones, and now ESPN's Adam Schefter has identified the Patriots (as well as the Eagles) as a couple of potential teams that will try to improve their draft position. NFL.com's Mike Lombardi thinks it will be New England's later picks -- Nos. 28 and 33 overall -- that will draw the most attention.
My second prediction is that the New England Patriots will have many teams vying for their first pick in the second round (No. 33 overall), but their most coveted pick will be the 28th pick overall. In fact, there will be so many teams that want to acquire that 28th overall pick that the value of the pick will far exceed the old chart value. The 28th pick will be the auction pick, because many teams won't want to leave Radio City on Thursday night without the player it deems the key to its draft.