FOXBORO -- One of the strategic aspects of the NFL Draft is teams understanding what prospects might be targeted by other clubs, which seemed to be in play with the Patriots and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The Patriots shipped the 44th pick and a sixth-rounder (190th) to Oakland to move up to 42 for Gronkowski. In doing so, they leapfrogged the Baltimore Ravens.
The Patriots couldn't have been sure that Baltimore was going to select Gronkowski, but they must have accounted for two things: 1) Gronkowski had taken a pre-draft visit to Baltimore; 2) The Ravens have a need at the position.
On a conference call with Patriots reporters tonight at Gillette Stadium, Gronkowski was asked if he felt Baltimore was going to pick him at 43. "They basically showed a lot of interest, and told me that they kind of wanted me," he said.
Asked if he felt he would have been the Ravens' pick at 43, Gronkowski said he couldn't be sure, but felt he had a pretty good chance of going in that row of picks at 43 (Ravens) and 44 (Patriots).
This is the strategic aspect of the draft that I think the Patriots, and specifically Bill Belichick, enjoy.
While they are more likely to trade down, accumulating more picks, this was an example of them going in the other direction based on the knowledge that the Ravens had spent considerable time with Gronkowski before the draft.