April 13, 2004
What Will The Patriots Do?
BY: Kevin Rousseau
After hibernating for the last two and a half months, Patriots fans everywhere are slowly waking up now that the NFL Draft is upon us.
Just what will the Patriots do with their stockpile of picks?
Package them together and move up for a blue-chip prospect? Use up all of their picks to add needed depth at key positions? Or trade a few of their picks while still taking players at positions that will make our collective heads scratch?
And you came here expecting me to know?
Without further ado, allow me the cheap thrill of suggesting where the Patriots might head when the NFL's annual version of reading the phone book takes place in a few days.
Right off the bat, let's get my annual disclaimer out of the way. I will ask you, the loyal reader of this column, to excuse my annual gripe. Namely, all of these mock drafts we see are usually about as useful to us as a good case of athlete's foot. Really-as knowledgeable as they are-how many times do you ever remember the Mel Kipers of the world ever getting the Patriots pick right?
Having said that, it would be a major surprise if the team did not address the running back spot with one of their five picks on the first day of the draft. Will their lack of a consistent running game finally catch up with them this year? When you stop and think about Antowain Smith and Kevin Faulk (both good but not great backs) helping to steer the Patriots to two titles in three years, you just have to shake your head and ask "How?" It's time to develop a young back to take the pressure off Tom Brady's shoulders and create a balanced offense. If Brady and the Patriots have been this good so far, imagine what they could be with a consistent 1200 yard-a-year stud running back?
And with Matt Light entering his free-agent year, Damian Woody departing for the Lions, and Joe Andruzzi perennially day-to-day (Who among us isn't?), it would not be surprising for the Patriots to take the best offensive lineman available with one of their top picks. Russ Hochstein, Tom Ashworth, and Dan Koppen all filled in admirably as the injuries began to pile up last year. But if any of them got injured in the Super Bowl, the Patriots would have been down to either Wilbert Brown or Brandon Gorin to fill in on the offensive line. That's about as much depth as a Dave Wanndstedt-inspired game plan.
We might also see the Patriots draft an inside linebacker or two on the first day. Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Mike Vrabel, and Larry Izzo have proven their worth to the Patriots over the last three years. Yet all of them have a minimum of seven years under their belts. Linebackers age quickly in the NFL. An experienced veteran one season can be washed up the next.
One thing's for sure. The Patriots have made watching the draft an all-afternoon affair. You never know what these guys are going to do. Trade up. Trade down. Select a punter from Tunisia. You just never know.
I suppose I'll have no choice but to put off the first yard work of the spring until Sunday-at the very least.
They're back……Idle Zinger thoughts while wishing Condoleeza Rice would treat herself to a new hairdo:
Giants defensive end Michael Strahan has decided to not seek a seat on the Montclair (N.J) Township Council. Could you imagine a player under Belichick even thinking about such a stunt? The twist on this story is that if Strahan had actually ran and won, he would have been a Town Councillman to none-other than SI's Peter King. It's too bad it didn't all work out. It would have made for some terrific material for his Monday Morning Quarterback Column.
Pre-season hero Rohan Davey was recently named the NFL Europe's Offensive Player of the Week. Davey is the top-ranked quarterback in NFL Europe this season with a passer rating of 110.2.
According to Tuesday Morning Quarterback Gregg Easterbrook, out of all of the so-called experts in the national media, only Gil Brandt correctly predicted at the beginning of last season that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl. Readers are advised to take these pre-season projections with as many grains of salt as the mock drafts that currently rule our lives.
The lovely and talented Mrs. Rousseau out of the blue rhetorically asks "Just who is still a fan of the Dallas Cowboys?"
My continued requests to withhold your regular donation to public radio and "send along what you can" as compensation for this so-called column have fallen on deaf ears. Even if you are not yet "ready to make that pledge", I would be happy to hear from you and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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