April 27, 2009
Interesting Moves On Day Two
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
Day two in Foxboro turned out to be even more interesting than day one.
Sunday saw New England walk away with eight players while sending one packing after the Patriots shipped starting cornerback Ellis Hobbs to Philadelphia in exchange for two 5th-round selections. Those two picks were then traded to Baltimore for the Ravens' fourth-round (123rd) and sixth-round (198th) selection.
Obviously it's all about value, and it's pretty clear that Belichick has a blueprint in place. The selections of safety Patrick Chung and cornerback Darius Butler, along with free agent acquisitions Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden, apparently made Hobbs expendable.
The Patriots selected receiver Brandon Tate to kick things off with the 83rd overall pick out of North Carolina. Despite coming off of a knee injury he suffered while returning a punt against Notre Dame in 2008 where he missed the final seven games of his career, Tate is still considered to be one of the better and more versatile receivers in the draft. He established an NCAA combined kick return yardage record of 3,523 yards, and was just 304 yards shy of the NCAA record for kickoff return yardage (2,992).
As a receiver in 2007 Tate placed third on the team with a career-high 25 receptions for 479 yards (19.2 avg) and five touchdowns, earning All-ACC honorable mention. As he continues to recover there's no pressure for him to make an immediate impact. With Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Joey Galloway, and Greg Lewis, the Patriots are pretty well stocked at the receiver position and will provide him with a great group to learn from.
When asked how he felt about the opportunity to learn from the best, Tate told reporters on Sunday that he's definitely looking forward to the opportunity.
"I'm [excited] to come here," said Tate. "I know one of them is going to take me under their wing, and whatever they tell me, it's got to be the right thing because they're [each] one of the best. Like I said, I'm glad I'm on a team like this, and I just want to learn to get better."
Next the Patriots finally selected a linebacker Sunday, taking Tyrone McKenzie from South Florida with the 97th overall selection. In McKenzie the Patriots have yet another player who can play more than one position, as he played all three linebacker spots in college. He's said to be extremely intelligent and understands the game, and has tremendous instincts. More importantly he definitely seems to be a character guy. Following a car accident that left his mother unable to work, he left Michigan State and came home where he actually worked 11pm -- 7am at a Hampton Inn just to help support her and his three sisters. During the day he would train for his eventual return to school and football.
That says a lot about a young player trying to take care of his family and follow his dream.
"I was working the front desk," said McKenzie as he talked about his time working at the hotel. "I was working the night shift, in the morning, working the front desk, checking in people late at night. Being that late, it was just kind of boring and you get kind of tired from a shift there working at the desk. I was hoping every hour and half [hour] for someone to check in at night."
"Obviously, teams are going to do a background check on me. So it's not a problem with me. I was just to get my situation across and let them know that, "Hey, things have happened." But it's made me the better man that I am today."
Next up was Penn State offensive guard Richard Ohrnberger, whom the Patriots selected in the fourth round at 123rd overall. Ohrnberger helped bolster a Nittany Lion offense that averaged 400 yards per game, which included nearly 200 yards per game rushing. He's a guy who can play more than one position, as he was also the back-up center for Penn State. Once again, yet another versatile player on New England's roster.
"I was the back-up center at my school," said Ohrnberger when asked that very question by reporters Sunday. "We had some depth issues at center this year after an injury, so I took plenty of snaps. Before practice and at practice I took snaps at center, so I'm proficient enough to play the position, but honestly when I get to New England I will do whatever they tell me."
Next the Patriots grabbed offensive lineman George Bussey from Louisville with the 170th pick. Bussey played both guard and tackle while at Louisville, and gives New England even more depth on the offensive line which could find themselves in need of it as 11 of the 14 remaining offensive linemen are in the final years of their contracts.
Following Bussey's selection the Patriots addressed the loss of Lonie Paxton by taking Jacob Ingram with the 198th selection out of Hawaii. While this pick was mocked on television, it's hard to fault Belichick's mindset. Ingram is considered by experts to be the best long-snapper who has entered the draft in the last three years, and considering the fact the Patriots now have one of the better kickers in the game again, having a guy who can snap the football is obviously important.
Nine picks later came Myron Pryor, a defensive tackle out of Kentucky who was taken with the 207th overall pick. Pryor is another guy who projects to be an interior lineman with great lower body strength.
The final two picks for the Patriots were wide receiver Julian Edelman from Kent State, and defensive lineman Darryl Richard from Georgia Tech who were both taken in the 7th round. Both of these players for now simply add depth to the roster.
All in all, another solid day and with the Hobbs trade an intriguing one to say the least. The Patriots got what they could in value and made some other moves to bolster next year's draft after they sent their first pick in the third round (73) to Jacksonville for their second-round pick in 2010 and a seventh-round pick (232 -- which they used to take Edelman) this year. Belichick obviously has a plan, and now we'll find out how each of these players begin to fit into this roster when the team holds rookie mini-camp, which will begin on Thursday at Gillette Stadium.
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