The data confirms the eye test.
In four of the last five NFL Drafts, the Cincinnati Bengals have traded down in the second round. The only time they did not was in 2020, when they opted to take Tee Higgins with the 33rd overall pick at the top of the round.
The Bengals returned to their usual habits a week ago when they moved down eight spots to take Clemson offensive lineman Jackson Carman. The New England Patriots gave up two fourth-round picks in the exchange to move up from the 46th pick 38th pick. It was a deal the Bengals did not want to turn down, and rightfully so.
ESPN analytics writer Seth Walder broke down the top five most valuable draft day trades and had the deal coming at No. 3, with the Bengals listed as the winners.
Just three picks before this trade, the Broncos paid a fourth-round pick and got back a sixth-rounder to move up five spots. Here, the Patriots dealt two fourth-rounders without getting anything back to move up eight spots and draft Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore.
Bottom line: The Bengals got Bill Belichick to pay up here, increasing the value of their original No. 38 pick by roughly 60%. With the picks acquired, Cincinnati selected offensive tackle Jackson Carman in the second round and then defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin and offensive tackle D’Ante Smith.
Two extra picks before the fifth round is just as good as it sounds. Per ESPN’s draft pick chart, the two fourth-round picks the Bengals received equated to a surplus value of a third-round pick. This was aided by the fact that they didn’t give up an additional pick to move back.
In the days following the draft, we came to learn that the Bengals were targeting Carman for a while and would’ve been comfortable selecting him with their original 38th overall pick. They hoped that Carman would still be there after trading back, so landing him and two additional players later in the draft looks even savvier now in retrospect. The Patriots were surely targeting their eventual selection, Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore, so they surely don’t feel cheated despite “losing” the trade on paper, though.
This was the fifth trade conducted between the Bengals and Patriots since 2004, but it was just the second mid-draft trade they made with each other. The first happened back in 2012, when the Patriots traded up for Chandler Jones in the first round. The Bengals ended up with Kevin Zeitler and Brandon Thompson, so they were able to get at least one solid player in return. This was also the first trade between the two teams since the Patriots were caught filming the Bengals’ sideline during a 2019 regular season game. The Patriots had to forfeit their original third-round pick in this past draft because of that incident.
We’ll surely revisit this trade after several years to determine if the Bengals did get the better end of the deal.