April 27, 2008
This Year's Patriots Draft Helps Turn The Page
BY: Kevin Rousseau
In many ways, this year's NFL draft was far more of a welcome occurrence for me than it had been in previous years. Sure, it's easy to get fired up about picking from the seven hole without the usual stinker of a record that goes along with that slot. And besides, you never know what the Patriots are going to address in the draft. Don't forget that they've never seen a draft day trade they didn't like to pull the trigger on.
And despite the fact I don't know the names of more than five or six of these guys in the entire draft, I always leave the weekend feeling--as I'm sure most fans of any NFL team does--that my team addressed some needs and will take that proverbial next step.
But this year was a little different thanks to that awful I-still-don't-know-how-the-hell-they-lost-the-Super-Bowl thing that has been lurking all through New England since February. My last column was a predictable, yet healthy, vent that got a lot of my feelings out of my system. It helped the healing process and solicited a lot of fun comments on the Patsfans.com messageboard which is the goal of any columnist. My favorite one was a guy suggesting that maybe I should listen to some Bread CDs and get over it. I'm getting there, folks, even without listening to Bread.
But as the Pats wisely traded down to the 10th slot and saved millions in signing bonus money, the juices for 2008 began flowing. As this was going down in the refreshing 10-minute per pick format, I smiled and said that once again the team knows exactly who they want and when they can get him. I didn't know who this guy's name was as I pride myself as being an anti-draftnik. But I had a $1 bet with Ian riding on it being a linebacker and I wanted to collect.
Earlier in the week, the proprietor of Patfans.com called me up and we got into a discussion about needs. Predictably, he said they were going to take a cornerback and there was "no way" they were going to take a linebacker in the first round since Belichick doesn't draft them. I responded by saying that was exactly the reason they would take a linebacker and asked if he'd be willing to put a whole dollar on it? Foolishly, he jumped at the offer.
Many NFL teams are predictable. The Jets will perennially botch the draft despite the approval of the team's picks by their fans in the balcony at Radio City Music Hall. The Bengals will take some guys with character issues and the Bills will pick a player in the first round that will make Mel Kiper, Jr. scramble for his notes and issue his first ad nauseum use of the word "reach." But not your New England Patriots.
Last year, they shocked everybody by trading a fourth rounder for Randy Moss. (In the interest of fairness, I ripped the move at the time. You can look it up if you want.) That turned out halfway decent if memory serves me correctly. They've been known to draft tight ends in the first round within a few years of each other. Some years in free agency, they shop at Marden's and Building 19. Other years, it's the Chestnut Hill Mall.
And so it went through the weekend as a few linebackers, a few cornerbacks, a wide receiver and a quarterback were added into the mix for 2008. Now it's time to look forward and picture Jerod Mayo in the Mike position giving the Patriots a badly-needed youth infusion at linebacker. The nasty secret about last season is that they were so thin at linebacker that they were likely one injury away from Larry Izzo getting significant playing time late in the season.
It's now time to look forward and see what bargain basement free agents the team will pick up. How about Shawn Alexander, anyone? I wouldn't mind Ty Law coming back into the fold but do Ty and myself a favor and don't hold him to his standard from five years ago.
We've weathered Matt Walsh (we thinků), shameless ticket price increases, national ridicule, clearance sales on merchandise that asks us "Who Wants It More?" and other frontal assaults on our psyche. Now it's time to turn the page and look forward to the 2008 season knowing that the Patriots will be the team to beat again.
You can have the Bread CD. I'm up for some AC/DC and a little "Crazy Train."
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