Maybe it was the buzz surrounding the trade for Randy Moss. Maybe it was the fact that the Patriots only made 1 pick on the first day. Maybe it was the fact that about 100 players were selected in between Meriweather and Kareem Brown. Whatever the reason, the rest of the Patriots draft went relatively unnoticed.
The Patriots added a great deal of depth with their draft, after filling in major missing pieces via free agency. The Patriots also acquired picks in the 2008 draft.
In the 4th round, the Pats got Kareem Brown, DT out of Miami (FL). This was the first time in team history that the first two players selected went to the same school.
Brown is 6' 4", 290 pounds, was Miami's defensive player of the year, and was 2nd in the ACC with 11.5 sacks. He is versatile. He can play at tackle or at end on the D-Line. He played with Meriweather, obviously, and spent 2 years as Vince Wilfork's teammate. The two already have somewhat of a mentor-protege relationship.
We needed some depth on the line, especially at defensive tackle. When Wilfork was hurting, or needed a breather, Mike wright was called in. Wright did a decent job, but I think Brown will be an improvement.
As we saw in the playoff loss to Indianapolis, defensive depth is vital. Our defense was worn to the turf as Indy kept driving on us. The front 3 were particularly exhausted. Brown adds another option for the line.
In the 5th round, the Patriots selected OL Clint Oldenburg out of Colorado State.
Clint is 6' 5", 298 lbs. He played tackle as an upperclassman, but also played guard and even tight end when he first played for the CSU Rams. Having a versatile O-Lineman like Oldenburg can really help. The Patriots have had very good depth at O-Line these past few seasons, and drafting capable players like this guy is one of the reasons for that.
In the 6th round, the Patriots selected DE Justin Rogers of Southern Methodist.
He's on the left. This was the best "action" shot I could find of Rogers. He wasn't even expected to be drafted by many people. Rogers had 9.5 sacks last year for 13th in D-IA. He led Conference USA in sacks as a junior with 7. He's 6' 4", 250 lbs. rogers suffered a neck injury last year, but only missed one game.
Funny side-story regarding Rogers:
"I was a little low on money and a little low on ideas and I had just killed a coyote. I was flipping through a catalogue and I saw a coyote rug and I thought, 'I can do that,' so I skinned it out and gave it to her [his step-mother]. She still has it. It's in our living room."
I just think it's funny that he was like "And I had just killed a coyote."
Rogers might have some trouble making this team. From this point on, the Patriots are pretty much drafting practice squad players. But who knows where one of these guys might one day end up.
The Patriots then drafted CB Mike Richardson, Notre Dame.
Mike is 5' 11", 188. This pick kept alive the tradition of Bellichick drafting players from "affiliate" college teams. By this, I mean college teams coached by guys associated with Bill in the past. Fresno State, LSU when Saban was there, and now Notre Dame. Richardson might make the team as the bottom CB of the depth chart.
With their next pick, the Pats selected RB Justise Hairston, Central Connecticut State.
Justise is 6' 10", 210 lbs. He's a native of New Britain, CT. He transferred to CCSU from Rutgers. He rushed for 1,847 yards on 277 carries his senior year at CCSU, including a 332 yard performance. He also ran for 20 TDs. With Maroney, Morris, Faulk, and Evans, Justise will have difficulty making the team.
The Pats drafted OT Corey Hilliard out of THE Oklahoma State University.
Hilliard is 6' 5", 308. He started 34 games straight for the Cowboys to end his college career.
In the 7th round, the Pats got ILB Oscar Lua out of USC. Lua lost his starting job this season to an underclassman.
To end their draft, the Patriots selected OL Mike Elgin of Iowa. Elgin can play both guard and center. He has little to no chance of making the team. But I'd feel bad if I didn't put a picture of him up.
So, we added some depth on defense, and maybe a little on the offensive line. Meriweather has a good chance of playing. Brown should see some time, too. The others might have trouble making the first team. That's not a bad thing, though. It's important to have a team that is very difficult to make it onto.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
The Red Sox had a 4-2 lead in the 9th with Papelbon on the mound. Guaranteed win about 90% of the time, probably more. But Papelbon blew it. It was bound to happen. Schilling pitched great, scattering 8 hits, allowing 2 runs and striking out 7 in 7 innings. Okajima had a perfect 8th inning, then Papelbon really struggled in the 9th. The Sox put up 4 runs, which should be enough for a win most of the time, but you can always put up more. Ortiz, Manny, and Youkilis went down 1, 2, 3 in the bottom of the 10th. And let's not forget Donnelly allowing a run in the 10th, either.
Man of the Game was Travis Buck who went 3 for 5 with a double and a homerun. He knocked in 2 and scored twice.
Curt Schilling: 7 IP, 2 ER
Dan Johnson: 2/5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI
Huston Street: IP, 0 H, 0 BB, K
Papelbon: 0.4 - IP, 2 ER
Donnelly: 0.2 - IP, ER
Schilling: 0.1 - 7 IP, 2 ER
Lugo: 0.1 - 0/5, K, 2 LOB
Varitek: 0.1 - 0/4, 2 K, 2 LOB
Pedroia: 0.1 - 0/3
Josh Beckett looks for win #6 against Chad Gaudin.
In Arlington, TX, Yankee rookie Phil Hughes was pitching a no-hitter when he left the game with a hamstring injury. The no-hitter was broken up against the Yankee bullpen. Hughes joins a cavalcade of injured Yankee pitchers. Ir's starting to not be funny anymore.
The Red Sox are 16-8, have taken 5 of 6 from New York, and have built a 3.5 game cushion in the division. But everyone's talking about the Patriots.
Just to put the Moss trade in perspective here. The Dolphins picked injured OSU receiver Ted Ginn Jr. with the 9th overall pick in the draft. We used the 110th overall pick to land Randy Moss.
Moss has agreed to reduce his salary from just under $10M to around $3M. This reduces the cap hit the Pats take in signing him. Oakland will absorb the cap hit from the signing bonus.
There's been some fallout regarding this move, mostly from the Boston sports media. Flipping through the channels, I came upon Around the Horn, a show I normally avoid watching because Woody Paige is a tool, as is Jay Mariotti. However, the only person maligning the Moss trade was the Globe's Jackie McMullen. She called it "arrogant."
We really do have some negative and/or myopic sports writers in Boston.
Arrogance is not a word I associate with Bill Belichick. But some people do. This is probably because he's not media friendly, and comes off as being very distant.
I don't think Belichick and Pioli were sitting in Foxborough thinking "We'll show the NFL, we'll take on Randy Moss and turn him into a star again. (insert evil laugh)." I'm pretty sure they were thinking "We can get Randy Moss for a 4th round pick. If he works out, we potentially have the best group of receivers in the NFL. If he doesn't, we don't lose much."
Also, let's look at the WRs that were drafted after the 110th pick.
Aundrae Allison, East Carolina, 146th pick
Dallas Baker, Florida, 227th pick
Steve Breaston, Michigan, 142nd pick
John Broussard, San Jose State, 229th pick
David Clowney, Virginia Tech, 157th pick
Chris David, Florida State, 128th pick
Joel Filani, Texas Tech, 188th pick
Roy Hall, Ohio State, 169th pick
Johnathan Holland, Louisiana Tech, 254th pick
Jordan Kent, Oregon, 210th
Legedu Naanee, Boise State, 172nd pick
Ryne Robinson, Miami (OH), 118th pick
Derek Stanley, Wisconsin-Whitewater, 249th pick
Syndric Steptoe, Arizona, 234th pick
Chansi Stuckey, Clemson, 235th pick
Courtney Taylor, Auburn, 197th pick
Chandler Williams, Florida International, 233rd pick
Not exactly a list of household names, even for hardcore college football fans. Ryne Robinson was close to equivalent value of a 110th pick for receivers in this year's draft. He's 5' 8", 178 pounds (generously). Moss is 6' 4", 210 pounds. Robinson has 0 career NFL receptions for 0 yards. Moss has 676 for 10,700.
If this year's NFL Draft was of all the eligible amateur players, with Randy Moss thrown into the mix, getting him at 110th would be an absolute steal.
But the high and mighty writers in New England don't like it. For years now, we've all been sticking our noses up at other NFL teams. Something like the Minnesota Sex Boat would never happen with the Patriots. Nor would we have multiple players arrested like the Bengals. No steroids or performance enhancement in Foxborough, either. We in New England have been the snobs of the NFL. We claim the success of the team is due to character, and chemistry. We're the self-proclaimed gentlemen of the NFL.
But the Moss deal defies all of that. He's been arrested for possession of marijuana (CRUCIFY HIM!), he once hit a meter maid with his car, and he even took plays off! Certainly a man such as this is unfit for the high society of the elite New England Patriots. The same goes for the legally packing Brandon Meriweather. They don't belong with our Golden Boy Tom Brady, or our workhorse Troy Brown, or our tough guy Tedy Bruschi, or our gentle giant Vince Wilfork, or any of "our boys."
But here's the thing. We've won Super Bowls, not because of character, but because WE PLAYED WELL. We weren't the most talented team, but character doesn't mean shit if you don't play well.
The Patriots have taken on so-called "projects" before. Remember Rodney Harrison when he was a Charger? How about Corey Dillon when he was a Bengal? It hasn't always worked out, either. Just ask Bethel Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Doug Gabriel. Hell, this is a team that had no problem letting go of Adam Vinatieri, Corey Dillon, Deion Branch, David Givens, Ty Law, Willie McGinist, and a host of others. Does anyone really think they'll have any difficulty giving Moss his walking papers if he isn't helping the team? You either play well for the Patriots, or you don't play for the Patriots. It's pretty simple.
Shaughnessey had a particularly horrible column in the Globe. Just a few excerpts:
The Patriots look like they're going to the Super Bowl in Arizona in February. They came within a few plays of making it to their fourth ubergame in six years in January and they have addressed all their major needs in one of the most active offseasons ever.
But at what price? What happened to the sanctimonious standards they've set? For years they've been preaching team above self and telling us how proud they are of the fine young men who wear their uniform. And then in 24 hours they drafted a gun-toting cheap-shot artist last seen stomping on a prone opponent during a disgraceful brawl . . . only to drop the bombshell of the draft by trading for Randy "I play when I want to play" Moss.
Sanctimonious standards? I honestly hope Shank is being sarcastic here. IT'S FOOTBALL! NOT THE CHURCH! MOSS WILL BE PLAYING WIDE RECEIVER, NOT RUNNING FOR POPE!!!
The Patriots have never "preached" anything but WINNING.
Maybe it's me, but Shaughnessey's column and the reaction to Meriweather has just a hint of racism to it. Just imagine a white football player (one who had a teammate who was shot in the back and killed) who has a registered handgun, and defends his roommate by opening fire on someone. Suddenly, the image doesn't seem so bad, does it? Now he's not gun-toting, he's borderline heroic, defending his buddy like that. Hell, you could make a movie about it!
And as far as the Florida International incident goes, how many of us actually watched that entire game? I know that I have no idea how or why that brawl started. All most of us saw were the highlights, which focused on the All-American Brandon Meriweather, stomping on an FIU player. Didn't somebody by the name of Richard Seymour step on someone's hand in a game? Doesn't Rodney Harrison get fined by the NFL on a regular basis? Newsflash, people. Football players, even Patriots players, are human beings. They get mad, they lose their temper, they make bad decisions. Get over it.
In this spirit, it's assumed Moss will drink the Gillette water, see the light, and become a humble, quiet, and selfless team guy. There's some arrogance to this -- the same arrogance that assumes the other 31 NFL head coaches and front offices are clowns and jokers.
Dan, have you seen what these other NFL teams do to build their teams? They do things like draft Ted Ginn Jr. with the 9th overall pick. They mortgage their future to get Brady Quinn. They draft failed QB after failed QB. They draft Eric Crouch as a DB. They trade their entire draft for Ricky Williams. Are you telling me Al Davis isn't a clown? That Jerry Jones isn't a maniacal despot? That the Dolphins, Bills, Cardinals, Lions, and other teams are run well and are going places?
This isn't arrogance. This isn't the Patriots taking a chance with someone no other team wanted to take a chance on. In order to make any deal work, Moss would pretty much have to restructure his contract. He was willing to do so for the Patriots. That's how we got him. It wasn't that nobody wanted him. If nobody wanted him, we wouldn't have given up the pick for him, we would have waited for Oakland to cut him.
While we're on the topic of fibbing, here's this whopper from Bob Kraft (as told to the Globe's Mike Reiss): "I don't think we've changed our philosophy."
I don't think the Patriots have changed their philosophy one bit. We win by constructing teams with great players who play great. We don't try to win popularity contests, and we don't try to win character contests. We win football games.
Say goodbye to that high moral ground, Bob. The Patriots this weekend put their standards on the shelf in the quest for victory. They might be the best team in football, but the Patriots are no longer "different" from all the other NFL organizations.
Doesn't being the best make you different from the rest? Do the Seahawks have any character issues? How about the 49ers? The Chiefs? The Bills? The Jets? How come they're not on pedestals?
Winning is the standard that matters. Nobody on the Patriots is a saint. There's probably some real assholes in that locker room, too. But everything always comes out peachy if you're winning. And we win.