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Patriots have chips to move into top 10 if they feel strongly about prospect

Exploring hot topics around the New England Patriots in mailbag form:

This is the time of the year when draft strategy adds another layer of intrigue, and the trade of Brandin Cooks gives the Patriots more flexibility to move around the draft board. That is when Bill Belichick has been at his best, making 61 draft-day trades in his 18 years with the Patriots, which is a high total relative to the rest of the NFL. Using an old draft-value chart, the No. 23 pick the Patriots acquired would be around 760 points, while the No. 31 pick they already own would be around 600. So if the Patriots wanted to package both of those picks (1,360 points), they could potentially move into the back end of the top 10 as the ninth pick is valued at around 1,350 points. They'd have to feel very strongly about the player they were moving up for to do that, and I'd think it's unlikely. But it is an option, and as we've seen with Belichick over the years, all options are at least explored.

Of the four positions, the only one that would be mildly surprising would be defensive tackle, where the Patriots look strong to me. I could make a case for almost any other position, including quarterback, which is part of what makes this such an intriguing draft for the Patriots. If you were to say tight end, I wouldn't argue at that. Speedy running back -- same. Ideally, if they could go off-the-line linebacker, left tackle, quarterback, running back and/or tight end, those would be the positions atop my needs list.

If the Patriots go with a tight end in the first round, my feeling is that it would have to come with the belief that the prospect is a legitimate tight end -- with potential to be equally as effective as a blocker and as a pass-catcher. That is what would make the player a first-round value, as we saw the team go in that direction with Daniel Graham (2002) and Benjamin Watson (2004). Specific to Dallas Goedert, they'd obviously have to have a level of comfort with him having played at a lower level of competition. My sense is that they would be higher on Hayden Hurst, although he's older than the traditional prospect, and that would be a potential knock against him.

I'm not sure I'd say the Jimmy Garoppolo pick in the 2014 second round "upset" Tom Brady as much as it stoked his competitive fire. A case could be made it played a role in raising his level of play. It would be smart business for the Patriots to try to duplicate that in 2018. As for how Brady would respond to it, I would expect nothing but his best on the field. I'm sure he understands that he's about to turn 41, and while the hope is that he plays into his mid-40s, the organization has to prepare for the possibility it won't happen. I'd point to Brady's remarks in the final episode of "Tom vs. Time" as the reason why he would understand this, as he alluded to thoughts on wavering conviction immediately after the season.

Michael, the additions of receiver Jordan Matthews (6-foot-3), receiver/returner Cordarrelle Patterson (6-foot-2) and tight end Troy Niklas (6-foot-6) all reflect what you mention -- more height. As for whether that was a calculated decision, my sense is that it isn't. It is probably more a result of taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves, and the result of that was adding three players who are above average in that area. It reminds me of a question I asked Belichick at the NFL owners meeting last month about having seemingly added more speed this year. His response was that this isn't a track team, essentially saying that there are a lot of traits that can be desirable, and speed (or in this case height) would just be one of them.

I'd keep Shaq Mason rather than trade him for a move from No. 31 to No. 21 in the first round. He is a top player, and while there could be a struggle to sign him long term, he's still a great value this year at $1.907 million. There is always a push and pull with those types of situations -- how much to sacrifice in the short term for a long-term gain. To me, this scenario doesn't provide enough in return to part ways with Mason.

In Wednesday's Patriots Hall of Fame Committee meeting, we discussed various things as it relates to format. Nothing is ever perfect, but the sense I came away with is that the majority likes the current setup and believes the Seniors Committee addresses the struggle for candidates who played in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s to "compete" with more modern-eras candidates who might be more familiar to fans. I put myself into that category as well.