History suggests Bill Belichick, Patriots will have success with two first-round picks

The Patriots were able to select Chandler Jones (left) and Dont'a Hightower during the first round of the 2012 draft in part because of moves and trades they made the year before. Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have two first-round draft picks (Nos. 23, 31), and if history is an indication, that's good news for the franchise. Some of Bill Belichick’s best work has come in years when the team entered the draft with multiple first-round picks.

The first time it happened, in 2003, was particularly notable as it was a result of having traded quarterback Drew Bledsoe to the Buffalo Bills.

The club used one of them on defensive end Ty Warren (No. 13) and traded the other (No. 19) to the Baltimore Ravens, which gave up a 2004 first-round pick and 2003 second-rounder to draft quarterback Kyle Boller. That falls into the two-for-one category. If a club is willing to do the same type of deal this year, Belichick will probably be interested.

Then in 2004, the first-round pick from the Ravens (No. 21) turned into defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, which surprised Belichick & Co. because they never figured he would be there. The team’s other first-rounder, tight end Benjamin Watson (No. 32), is still playing in the NFL.

Fast-forward to 2007 when the Patriots also entered with two first-rounders -- No. 24 from the Seattle Seahawks and then their own pick at No. 28. The pick from the Seahawks was from trading receiver Deion Branch the year before.

Similar to what had unfolded the last time they had multiple first-rounders, they made one pick (safety Brandon Meriweather, which wasn’t their best) and traded the other to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2008 first-round pick and 2007 fourth-rounder (that pick was flipped for receiver Randy Moss).

The next year, that first-rounder from San Francisco was No. 7 overall, which was tremendous draft position for a Patriots team that was coming off a 16-0 regular season. The Patriots traded down three spots and selected linebacker Jerod Mayo, and then lost their other first-rounder as part of NFL penalties regarding videotaping.

In 2011, the Patriots once again entered with multiple first-rounders, No. 17 overall from the Oakland Raiders and their own pick at No. 28. The 17th overall pick was a result of trading defensive lineman Richard Seymour two years prior, and the Patriots were choosing between left tackle Nate Solder and defensive lineman Cameron Jordan and couldn’t have gone wrong with either choice.

Solder got the nod, and then the club traded No. 28 to the New Orleans Saints, who wanted running back Mark Ingram and were willing to part with a 2011 second-round pick (running back Shane Vereen) and 2012 first-rounder.

That set up an impressive double-dip in the 2012 first round, as the Patriots made two trades up the board -- using midround picks to improve their standing to select defensive end Chandler Jones (No. 21) and linebacker Dont'a Hightower (No. 25).

And now, 2018.

After trading wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams in a deal that brought back the 23rd overall pick, the Patriots also have No. 31, and then two second-rounders (43, 63).

Belichick, as the past shows, will probably be involved in some type of trade with one of those top picks. Overall, the Patriots would be pleased if things turn out similarly to past dealings with multiple first-round picks.

This is usually right in Belichick’s wheelhouse.