Originally Posted by patchick
Contemplating the focus on offense, I had a little moment of something that feels like clarity.
We know that Belichick always fills gaping roster holes in the draft. Usually he uses free agency to do that in order to approach the draft without absolute needs tying his hands, so that he can take advantage of opportunities as they come. But in the rare case that a job was just sitting open -- Mankins, Gostkowski -- he aggressively fills it.
For all that we wanted to see upgrades at DL & OLB, those positions are at least filled. What's more, the talent there is young enough that they should be able to at least modestly upgrade themselves. But with Neal retiring and Light, Faulk, Taylor and Morris all unsigned and aging, OL and RB had multiple, genuine gaping holes. And now the team has two new o-linemen and 2 new RBs.
There's been a lot of grousing on the board that BB got cute playing with value and ignored need. What if it's the reverse?
I don't think that you would have found many people on this particular forum
who would've argued before the draft against drafting OLmen with at least
2 of our top-150 picks.
I also don't think, however, that you would've found many people who would've argued
in favor of drafting RBs with 2 of our top-75 picks, esp. when not 1 defensive front-7
player had yet to be taken.
But what really blows my mind is that the Pats, of all teams, should have understood
that servicable, reliable RBs can be found in the 3rd-day rounds of a draft - or later.
Besides our own Law & Order, last year's leading rusher Arian Foster was undrafted
in 1999; Priest Holmes also went from UDFA to Rushing Champ, in 2001.
Taking the success & youth of both Sherriff Woody & the Law Firm into consideration,
I contended before the draft (and still do) that all our Offensive Backfield needed was:
the re-signing of Kevin Faulk - provided, of course, that he was healthy & wanted to play
another season splitting the touches with Woody & acting as backup Returner;
the acquisition via either free agency or draft of a FB/RB such as Jason Snelling or
LeRon McClain, esp. if Bill is serious about returning Power Running to the Pat's offense;
and the acquisition of a workhorse-type back to split the tougher carries with BJGE.
There is no doubt that Fragile Fred & Sometimes Sammy need to go; in fact,
they both should've been replaced before last year. As an example of poss. replacements,
I had hoped that Bill would've used one of his 6th/7th-rounders in 2007 on Snelling,
and one of his 6th/7th-rounders in 2009 on Rashad Jennings of Jacksonville.
But I'm not ready to send Faulk to the scrap heap; he was very effective in 2009.
His leadership in the locker room cannot be understated, either.
If he does decide to retire, however, there will be plenty of his type of RB available
once Free Agency begins. Hell, there'll be plenty of the Taylor/Morris types available, too.
I also respectfully disagree with your contention that at least the OLB & DE positions are filled
TBC is overpaid, underproductive, over 30, and is therefore a possible cap casualty;
Eric Moore was unemployed on Thanksgiving;
and Marques Murrell couldn't make the team out of TC
(or any other team throughout the reg season).
This leaves us Ninko, Cunningham & now a late-round project who needs to add
strength (17 reps) while increasing his explosiveness (1.71 10-yd split).
I don't consider the OLB position filled at all, by a longshot.
And as far as DE is concerned, excluding the iffy injury status of Ty Warren & Mike Wright,
Bill does have quantity there, but I wouldn't give you a conditional 7th-rounder for the rest of them.
The athleticism of the unit is severely lacking, and I see nobody there capable of improving
the pass rush, even if they're used in 4-man fronts.
Sorry for the buzz kill, but that's just as I see it right now.