The NFL draft started, and Commissioner Goddel stepped onto the stage to greet the audience to a sea of boos. It was great! He just pointed to the crowd and said, “I gotcha.” As most people thought, Cam Newton was the 1st pick in the draft. He received quite a chorus of boos. I assume that they weren’t booing the Panthers, they were booing Newton. He does after all, have a sketchy background (remember the play for money allegations), and is considered to be a conceded egotistical person. I thought the booing was hilarious, because he is egotistical! Now we wait for number 17 and 28, the Pats 2 first round picks.
Alright, the Pats are on the board. They have a lot of options here. D’Quan Bowers and Cameron Jordan are there. Mark Ingram is still available, if they wanted to improve at halfback. Might they do as usual, and trade down? I don’t see that happening. As I stated in my previous post, I feel that Bowers would be the best fit for this team. Jordan would be my second option, if they are too scared of Bowers.
Ok, the pick is in, and they have selected… Nate Solder!!???!! Wow, did not see that coming. To me, this says 2 things. 1: The Pats are afraid he won’t fall to 28. 2: They don’t think Light or Mankins will be around for too long. Everyone remembers the problems that they had with Mankins holding-out last year. That falling out will most likely lead to him being traded soon enough. Matt Light is up for free agency, which means that maybe they don’t re-sign him. It’s a solid pick, but this team has other needs. For Gods sake, they were the worst defense on 3rd down conversions, allowing nearly 50% conversions!! They still have another pick in the 1st round, so lets see what they do with it.
So what do the Pats do with the 28th pick? Like I said earlier, they need to improve their defense. I think they should pick D’Quan Bowers. Cameron Jordan was selected 24th overall by the Saints, so Bowers looks like their best option. Could they take Mark Ingram? He has fallen all they way down. What about trading the pick? Coach Belichick loves to trade down, and stockpile picks.
And with the 28th pick in the 1st round… New England traded it. Of course they did. They didn’t get rid of their first pick, so they might as well get rid of the second one. New England traded the pick to the New Orleans Saints. The Saints would use that pick to select Mark Ingram. The trade resulted in New Orleans taking the 28th pick (obviously), and the Patriots received the 56th pick in the 2nd round tomorrow, and a 1st round pick in 2012. This brings up a big question now. Would you rather have more picks, or Mark Ingram? If I was a Pats fan, I’d rather have Ingram than to just keep stockpiling picks. So, what did you think of the Patriots on the 1st day of the NFL Draft?
With the NFL draft now just two weeks away, I start to get excited about the possibilities for my team, the Miami Dolphins. And as a Dolphins fan, I start to worry about the Patriots. What are they going to do with their pick at 17th overall? For a team that’s notorious for trading down, will they do it again this year? Maybe they will keep their pick. In that case, who would they take, and who would be a good fit for them?
I think the easiest answer in all of this is that there is no way the Pats trade down. They finished 14-2 last year, but failed to win a home playoff game against the hated Jets. To add more to that, they haven’t won a playoff game since the ’07 AFC Championship game. Since that time, they have lost the ’07 Super Bowl (which everyone will remember as the almost undefeated season), failed to make the postseason in ’08, lost a home playoff game in ’09 and a home playoff game in 2010. I don’t think the Pats can afford to trade down. Yes they’re coming off a great season, but believe it or not, they could have been better. Their defense last year was the worst on third-down conversions, allowing 47% of successful conversions. That stat is just mind boggling. Almost half the time, a team would convert on third down against the Pats. And people really think this team was 14-2 worthy! Scoring a lot of points is great, but not when your defense is allowing more points to the other team. This team has too many problems to fix, to trade the 17th overall pick in the first round. The Pats do have the 28th overall pick as well in the first round, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pats trade up using one or both of their first round picks, and get someone who they think can come in and contribute right away.
So, if they’re not trading down, who might they draft? I see them drafting defense. They have to. There offense is good, even if it’s aging. If they want to win a championship this year (if we even have an NFL season), then they have to improve their D. So where are they most vulnerable on defense? They secured the cornerback position last year. So lets take a look at their Safeties. Meriweather is a meathead. Yes he’s a Pro-Bowler, but he’s still a meathead. Making dumb decisions is who he is. Still, I think that he’s good enough to get the job done. What about James Sanders? Decent player, gets the job done, but again isn’t anything special. I feel they could improve at Safety, but they won’t find anybody whose that good in the draft. So on to Linebacker we go. They would appear all set at inside linebacker with Mayo and Spikes, and at outside linebacker with Guyton and Banta-Cain. One would think Spikes and Guyton will improve from last year. So, the problem seems to be on the D-Line. Yes they have probably their best player in Wilfork at Tackle, but who’s on the edges. Jermaine Cunningham and Ty Warren. Those guys do not rush the passer one bit. So with a good secondary and solid linebacking core, their biggest needs on defense are their pass rushers. If this defense could get a fast, athletic, and smart D-Lineman, they would greatly improve their defense.
So, who would be available for the Patriots to get? Robert Quinn, J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, Da’Quan Bowers, Ryan Kerrigan, and Aldon Smith are all potential picks. Experts believe most of these guys will go somewhere between 10th and 16th overall. Who would be a better fit for the Pats?
Quinn didn’t play a down in 2010, but he is coming from a good Tarheel defense. Fast guy, who should have good burst coming off the edge. He’s a smallish player, who will have trouble with big stout blockers. And without playing a snap in 2010, I don’t see him being a good fit for New England. What about Watt? Big strong guy, probably best suited in a 4-3. Has a great motor, and good straight-line speed. I just don’t see him fitting in well. The Pats need someone who can burst off the edge, and fits their 3-4 scheme better. Next is Cameron Jordan. Strong, fast guy. Considered to be one of the most game-ready in this draft class. Gets to the ball quickly, diagnoses plays well, great run stopper. But not noted for his pass rushing skills. How about Bowers? Great power and athleticism. Considered a complete player, who gets to the point of attack quickly, and provides great backside pressure. Had 16 sacks for Clemson last year. Was once considered to be a first pick candidate, until a knee injury moved him down the board. Approaching the end now, with Kerrigan up next. Considered a 4-3 lineman, or 3-4 linebacker. Great lower body strength to help stop the ground game, and is a relentless pass rusher. Seems like he would be a better fit in a 4-3 scheme though. And last, is Aldon Smith. Said to have great potential. A natural pass rusher, doesn’t have a great initial burst, but has good hands to get around linemen. Elite lateral-movement, great closing speed, and a desire to get to the quarterback. Best suited in a 4-3 defense though.
Through all of this, it looks like there is no perfect fit for the Pats. So who is the best pick for the Patriots at 17th overall? Da’Quan Bowers. A pass rusher, who had 16 sacks last year in the ACC. He is considered to be one of the most complete players in this years draft. Sound like a Patriot guy yet? The Pats are notorious on picking players that have value. Players that may not be the fastest or most athletic, but get the job done each and every day. Bowers sounds like that kind of guy, plus he has exceptional skills. He should be able to step into the 3-4 scheme, and contribute right away. If the Pats can’t get him, I think Smith would be next on that list. Considered a pure pass rusher, with lots of potential. Not exactly a Pats guy, and he doesn’t fit into the 3-4 scheme the Patriots run. But, when it comes to talent and potential, he would be the next best fit. Overall though, I think Bowers is the best fit for this team. Do they have other needs, yes. But defense is where they need the most help, and a pass rusher who is very complete seems to be the most logical pick for them in the draft.