By Paul M. Banks
The New England Patriots were not flashy, but they were effective on draft weekend, going right after their needs. After last yearâ€™s draft day heist of Randy Moss, you knew that the â€™08 event was going to be much less exciting than the â€™07 edition. It would be very hard for Scott Pioli and company to do something as amazing as trading a fourth-rounder for a man who had the greatest statistical season in history at his position right? They did make a trade though, trading down with the New Orleans Saints, swapping their #7 for NOLAâ€™s #10 in exchange for the Saintsâ€™ third round pick and a third rounder next year.
Linebackers Need Apply
1st round #10, Jerrod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee
â€œHe is a pretty versatile player, did a lot of things down at Tennessee. Played inside, played outside played in sub defense, played in the kicking game,â€ Belichick explained shortly after the pick. So, where will Mayo fit into the Patriotsâ€™ 3-4 defensive scheme?
Linebacker was the primary concern heading into this draft as Junior Seau likely wonâ€™t be back for a 19th season and Roosevelt Colvin was cut. The Pats added Victor Hobson away from At 6â€™1â€ 245, Mayo has size and with a 4.55 forty, he brings speed to the table too. He is athletic and most likely to have an impact as any defender on the draft board. Most important is that versatility Belichick spoke of; which will get him on the field early and often. Being multifaceted is a trait highly coveted to the â€œPatriot Way.â€ Starting linebacker Adalius Thomas is perhaps the most versatile defender in the game today and he will serve as a good mentor for Mayo. This will be key when the injury bug bites again in the front seven.
3rd round #78, Shawn Crable, LB, Michigan
The Patriots rarely draft for need; most years they donâ€™t have to, but they added some badly needed linebacker depth for their 3-4 system in the third round. The linebackers that are healthy and still remain are all on the wrong side of 30 and not getting any younger. Highlights from Crableâ€™s profile on patriots.com â€œWith Crable’s tall and rangy frame, some talent evaluators feel that he could bulk up for a possible switch to the defensive line, where his pass rushing and pass coverage skills could excel as a hybrid linebacker/defensive end. Evident by his 28.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage as a senior, the Wolverine has proven to be among the elite blitzers in the 2008 NFL Draft pool.â€
6th round #197, Bo Ruud, LB, Nebraska
â€œHe has volunteered with local hospital visits, American Education Week and the Lincoln Midget football league.â€ Patriots.com Donâ€™t know if heâ€™ll make the team, but anyone who gives his time to work with midgets is a-ok in my book!
Cornering the Market
This off-season has also seen the departure of Asante Samuel, Randall Gay and Eugene Wilson. Given that he went to the University of Illinois, the Wilson departure truly hurts me quite a bit. Hereâ€™s what the Pats did on draft day to rebuild their depleted secondary
2nd round #78, Terrence Wheatley, CB, Colorado
â€œOne of the fastest players in college, Wheatley’s sudden burst and running stride has also brought him success as a kickoff returner. His 1,350 yards on kickoff returns rank second on the school’s all-time record list and his 919 yards on those returns in 2007 set a school record.â€ Patriots.com
4th round #129 Jonathan, Wilhite, CB, Auburn
According to his Patriots website scouting report: â€œIn 34 games at Auburn, Wilhite started 23 contests. He registered 101 tackles (77 solos) with a 9-yard sack and a quarterback pressure. He recovered and caused one fumble, adding fourteen pass deflections and three interceptions. Wouldnâ€™t it be great if Rodney Harrison helped mentor this kid into the kind of DB that racks up both sacks and interceptions like Harrison does? Hopefully, he wonâ€™t play with the same type of â€œroid rageâ€ that Harrison does though!
The Patriots really donâ€™t have any â€œneedsâ€ on offense, so everyone they added this weekend was essentially a â€œvalueâ€ selection. If these players do make the team, they are not likely to contribute much.
4th round #94 Kevin Oâ€™Connell, QB, San Diego State
5th round #153 Matthew Slater, WR, UCLA
You Only Tape Twice
Itâ€™s pretty rare for a 16-0 team to have a top ten draft pick. Oh wait, thereâ€™s never been a 16-0 team until this year, so itâ€™s really rare! The Pats had the 49ers pick and thatâ€™s why they had such a high first round draft pick. They also didnâ€™t have their own due to that whole â€œSpygateâ€ thing. The draft was big news this week, but the even bigger news was the announcement that former employee Matt â€œsecret agent manâ€ Walsh has struck a deal with the NFL and a d-day has now been set. The Maui golf pro and his lawyer now have an arrangement on the league that on May 13th, weâ€™ll see just what he has to bring to the table. He may have evidence that the Pats taped the Rams walk-through the night before the 2002 Super Bowl. Or that may just be a rumor. Either way, you know weâ€™ll get a little more information on this espionage story, and you know that Iâ€™ll have a lot to say about these 007 style â€œPatriot Actsâ€ next month.
Leave a Reply