Monday, May 26, 2008

Overdue

I found myself reading over some notes I had scribbled down to write about, and old Hal B. here realized that I never threw together my Patriots draft recap. Since a draft recap is pretty much useless until about three years later, I figured I would weigh in quick on the 2008 draft and then follow-up with the 2005 draft in proper perspective.

2008:

1. (10) Jerod Mayo - ILB, Tennessee

Delusional is the word I give to anyone who thought the Patriots would sit at number seven and make a selection. Trading down was always the top option for the Pats, and I believe they would have traded down for a blocking sled if only to save the money associated with a top ten pick. Mayo seems to be a perfect fit for the Patriots, having the ability to play inside and outside, although I imagine he will not be playing much in the first half of the season, though he should make an impact if only with his speed on the field. Overall it was a good pick filling a need (someone tell me when the Patriots picked "the best player available" and did not go after a need--I thought so).

2. (62) Terrence Wheatley, CB, Colorado

Another pick that seemed to fill a very specific need and should fill an immediate need at nickel or dime cornerback. With Fernando Bryant in the fold to fill the number two cornerback role (and Jason Webster for possibly nickel or dime cornerback) the need is really to develop a couple of corners for the future. Wheatley, while supposedly undersized, actually fits the Patriots defensive scheme which needs smaller corners who have hip flexibility and closing speed (which seems so strange that "draft prognosticators" never take into consideration). A solid pick, especially since Belichick has proven he chooses corners with better success than receivers.

3. (78) Shawn Crable, LB, Michigan

Another linebacker, another good fit. Crable is an outside rusher who can get after the QB and likely will step in as a third-down pass rushing specialist like Tully Banta-Cain was a few years back. Crable has eye-popping athleticism, and is in the right situation to fully take care of his gifts and turn him into a significant contributor in a few years.

3. (94) Kevin O'Connell, QB, San Diego State

A QB for the Patriots? In round three? OK, if (knock on wood, God protect me, and I never really wrote this and brought on bad karma) Tom Brady missed a game, is everyone on board with Matt Cassell? Yeah, me neither. O'Connell was a good value (he was basically a fourth round pick) and has NFL size. Yes, I would have preferred another defensive player here, but QB is a need that has been filled.

4. (129) Jonathan Wilhite, CB, Auburn

Wilhite was held back in college with injuries, but he made plays when he played. In fact, with his speed, it makes sense to coach him up and see what happens. Exactly what a fourth round pick should be when drafting for corners.

5. (153) Matt Slater, WR, UCLA

A surprise for all involved, I initially worried if this was one of those "I am smarter than everyone else" picks by Belichick; however, if Slater works out in the return game and plays on special teams, then he is a perfect fit for a fifth-round pick. Look back at last years draft: the Pats got no return because everyone else scooped them up when the Pats tried to sneak them through waivers. Why continue contributing to the Jets and Colts when you can draft someone who fits a very specific need?

6. (197) Bo Ruud, LB, Nebraska

A longshot to make the team, one hopes he can squeeze through waivers and sit on the practice squad for a year. Ruud continued the theme of big-school players this year in the draft for the Patriots (only O'Connell came from a mid-sized, non-traditional powerhouse school). Worth a shot if he has only has a pinch of brother Barrett inside him.

* * *

2005 Draft:

1. (32) Logan Mankins, OG
All-pro guard. Not bad for a pick roundly ridiculed at the time. Re-draft that year, and he would be in the top ten. This was definately one of those "I am smarter than all of you" picks that actually panned out.

3. (84) Ellis Hobbs, CB

Another pick that was criticized at the time (too small, too showy, not skilled enough) that turned out well. Getting a starting cornerback in the third round is always a good thing.

3. (100) Nick Kaczur, OT

A starting right tackle with the number 100 pick? A pretty decent choice.

4. (133) James Sanders, S

Four picks, four starters for a team that went 18-1. Not too shabby. Sanders will likely start at safety for the next couple of years.

5. (170) Ryan Claridge, OLB

Wash-out deluxe.

7. (230) Matt Cassel, QB

A serviceable number two quarterback with a seventh round pick. Hard to do much better than that.

7. (255) Andy Stokes, TE

Who? Isn't that the guy who played Gollum/Smeagol in the Lord of the Rings trilogy?

UFA. Mike Wright - DT

What a great pick-up by the Patriots grabbing this diamond in the rough. Not the strongest, largest, nor the most talented, but a guy who just worked harder than anyone else and worked his way into the rotation on the defensive line. In addition, Wright is a demon on special teams.

* * *

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