Three-day draft gives Patriots leverage

ORLANDO, Fla. -- I wonder if the New England Patriots sent the NFL a thank-you note for breaking up the draft into three days.

On April 22, the first round will take place in prime time and stand alone, the next step in the evolution of the NFL draft as an event. The first round is special, and the league wanted to treat it as such by separating it from the rest of the process.

"We think moving it to prime time on Thursday night is just going to expose it to a much wider audience," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday at the annual owners meetings. "We think it's going to be a terrific thing for our fans. We're excited about it."

The new format also should invigorate trade talk before the second round begins April 23 because general managers and coaches will have several hours to review their updated draft boards and plot their next maneuver.

The Patriots, the only club with three second-round picks, will be awaiting calls.

As ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss points out, the three-day draft has improved the Patriots' leverage.

"I'm sure there will be some interest in those picks," Belichick said Tuesday during a coaches media breakfast at the NFL owners meetings. "I can't imagine [otherwise] because that's usually the way it is, when you have multiple picks after the draft just stopped at a point and you've restarted."

The New York Jets wound up with Iowa running back Shonn Greene last year because they had all night to contemplate it. Last year's draft ended after two rounds, and Greene still was available.

Jets coach Rex Ryan, vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales, senior personnel executive Terry Bradway and general manager Mike Tannebaum debated their next move and decided to trade up, snagging Greene with the first pick of the second day.

"I think the emotion dies down and you sleep on it," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum told Reiss. "We decided we'd make one call to Detroit because of the value he had on our board, and if the price was right, we would go ahead and do it."

Belichick is interested to see how the new format will stimulate interest and creativity.

"I don't know whether that will happen or not," Belichick said. "I think it's certainly a possibility because historically that's been the way it's gone. To move up you have to give up something, and it's a question of whether there are teams that want to do that.

"I've been sitting there before thinking, 'If we could just get anything for this -- a case of beer, a gift certificate -- we'd gladly trade this pick.' But there are no takers. You just never know how that's going to go."