Monday, April 29, 2013

Patriots Have Decent, Unspectacular Draft

If you were expecting much from this draft, you're either very optimistic, very unrealistic, or very stupid. The draft as a whole was low on talent. Can you remember the last time the team picking #1 overall waited as long as possible for someone to trade for their pick? The Pats were also picking at the tail-end of the draft. And unlike past years they didn't have many picks coming in.

All things considered, I think the Patriots did okay. They found some decent talent that could contribute in different ways. They found some guys who have problems, and if those problems are sorted they can be very good. They also made a deal to acquire LeGarrette Blount, who ran for over 1,000 yards in 2010. They got him for a 7th round pick and an Olympic runner who wants to be a part-time football player.

The Pats traded out of the first-round, which upset some people, seemingly more on principle than on losing a chance to get any specific player. Everyone I've heard complain about this trade has been unable to answer the question "Who would you have taken at 29?" These people have emotional baggage from previous drafts. They're mad at the idea of trading a pick (even though other teams did it), not this specific instance. The Patriots made a good deal to add to their number of selections in a very hit-or-miss, mediocre draft.

And here are my thoughts on who they took...

Jamie Collins, an OLB/DE was their first pick. Collins had a great junior year, but "dogged it" his senior year. He was playing for a very bad team. Some teams stay away from guys with his kind of reputation. But a good team with a good coach can take the chance. The logic is simple. If he tries, he's athletic enough to find a place on the field. If he doesn't, he's gone.

Then they drafted WR Aaron Dobson out of Marshall. He played as an X receiver with a bad QB. Now he'll be in the mix with a good QB. With the lack of current depth at WR on the team, Dobson has a chance to get reps. He just needs to learn the playbook, which is always tough for new players.

The Patriots drafted a pair of DBs from Rutgers in the 3rd round. They'll join former Scarlet Knight Devin McCourty. For the first time in years, the Patriots have a secondary that is not a complete mess at the top of the depth chart. Talib was a key player whose loss hurt in the playoffs. Dennard is an early-round talent who could be even better in his sophomore season. What the Pats need is depth in the secondary. The dropoff from Talib to backups is what killed them in the AFC Championship game. Neither of these guys seem like they'll be big impact players, but both should get playing time in certain situations. And that's what the Pats desperately needed from their defensive backfield.

In the 4th round the Pats took another WR, Josh Boyce out of TCU. He is a combine stud. Fast, agile, can be an outside-the-numbers threat. But he's inconsistent with blocking and catching. He entered the Draft as a junior so he might be able to hone those skills. If he can, he'll be very productive. If not, he'll be an obscure memory and an Arena League All-Star.

Michael Buchannan is a 6' 5" frame that needs to be filled in. He needs strength. Plain and simple. He's a DE/OLB that can drop into coverage, but he needs to get bigger. He also has a DUI arrest. So stop drinking and start lifting, Michael.

The Patriots ended their draft by taking their third Rutgers defensive player, linebacker Steve Beauharnais. He's small, but smart. He can play in different situations, including special teams. As far as 7th round picks go, he's not bad. Lots of upside here. Undersized LBs have done well on this team before.

So no players who will have jerseys sold at the Pro Shop anytime soon. The players that have the most upside also have downsides. There are a lot of "if he can" players here. So maybe one or two hit big. Maybe one or two find a role as a backup. And the rest get real jobs.