April 26, 2009
Give Them Credit, Patriots Drafts Are Never Boring
BY: Kevin Rousseau
One thing is for sure. When it comes to the annual draft, the Patriots are never, ever boring.
Will it be trading a franchise quarterback to a division rival? Or how about having the fortitude to trade moderate short-term gain for the potential of long-term greatness? Or drafting at the same position (tight end) in the first round in 2002 and 2004?
This year's version of "Well, I never would have guessed that one" comes in the form of trading up, down and sideways to end up with four picks exclusively in the second round. With the selections, the team hopefully fills obvious needs in the secondary, defensive line and offensive line. And with an eye towards impending free agents such as Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Stephen Gostkowski; the team saves a whopping first-round signing bonus that would have otherwise had to have been dished out.
Oh, did I mention that the Patriots unloaded their starting cornerback for two fifth-round draft picks in a move that had you saying "there's more to this Hobbs trade than meets the eye?" Indeed, after fifty years of marriage the Patriots still have some spunk left in the tank.
Almost predictably, the Patriots dished two of their four third-round picks for 2010 second-round picks (Jacksonville and Denver). Hence, the fun will continue when the team wheels and deals a year from now.
Let me be the first to say that I have no idea what kind of impact these players will have on the Patriots in the coming years. There will be no day-after grade in this column. After all, it takes about three years to tell how a draft plays out for a team. But with that being said, let's not have that stop me from offering up a few Twitter-like observations for you to take with you to the water cooler.
I wouldn't know Darius Butler if he walked into my kitchen and poured himself a coffee, much less any knowledge of just how good a player he is. But when a respectful source like the Globe's Mike Reiss has the team taking him at the 23rd slot and they still end up grabbing him at 41, I would say that is good value.
What never gets old is watching the Jets desperately make moves year in, year out to try and placate that Radio City peanut gallery of fans. This year's episode was giving away the farm (their 1st and 2nd round picks plus three players) to move up 12 spots to get USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Then they did it again at the beginning of third round when they gave up a 3rd, 4th and 7th round pick for the right to move up 11 spots and get running back Shonne Greene from Iowa. At the end of the day, the Jets left the draft with three--yes, you read that right, three--players to help rebuild their crummy team.
The thing about Patriots drafts is that they are maddening to sit though while in the moment. More often than not, you catch yourself saying "Okay, they've lost their minds on this one." Then you continue mumbling to yourself "I can't believe they passed up on Player X (even though you can't ever recall watching a single down of said player during his college career)."
But when the confusing smoke clears, you're left convinced that four second-round draft picks and their low signing bonuses just might be the ticket to sustained success in the coming years.
It's hard to imagine a Jets fan leaving the balcony at the end of round seven ever feeling the same way.
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