FOXBORO, MA — If Michigan wide receiver David Terrell ends up becoming the next Randy Moss, people in New England may wonder what Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was thinking when he passed him up at the sixth overall pick.
The only problem is that the receiving core of New England isn’t thier biggest problem, and the Patriots’ first two selections reflected that.
On day one of the NFL Draft, New England took two big steps forward in improving both their offensive and defensive line by selecting Georgia defensive tackle Richard Seymour and Purdue offensive lineman Matt Light, both of which should help make an immediate impact on their football team. Seymour was taken sixth overall, and Light was taken in the second round after the Patriots traded down, but later had to trade back up to select him with the 48th overall selection.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Terrell was still available when it came time for the Patriots to make their first selection, Belichick simply went with the guy who he felt would best fit his team’s needs.
“This pick really was a lot more about what we liked about him as opposed to any negatives with any other player,” said Belichick. “I think this is a good, young defensive lineman that we need on our front seven to incorporate into our system.”
Belichick said he did receive a couple of phone calls from teams who wanted to trade up, but none of the offers were worth taking.
“We had a couple of calls (about trading down),” said Belichick. “We talked about it, we considered it, but in the end we just felt good about the player and there wasn’t anything that was strong enough to move us.”
“We really just felt strong enough about Seymour that we felt like that he would be the best pick for our football team.”
Meanwhile Seymour said that from the time he first met the coaches back at the Scouting Combine over a month ago, he felt very comfortable with the Patriots coaching staff.
“I had a very positive meeting with all the coaches and with the rest of the team at the combine,” said Seymour. “Everything went great and I just felt at home with the coaches and the staff. I did not come there for a personal visit, but I felt like we hit it off in the interview.”
“I’m really glad to be a New England Patriot and I am ready to get the show on the road.”
As for Light he’s never been to New England, but he’s also looking forward to his opportunity to have an impact on the team. According to Light Belichick told him that he’d have an opportunity to compete for the left tackle spot, but where he plays isn’t as important as having an oppporunity to earn a role on the team.
“The coaches just told me that if I could go in there and play well at left tackle then I could have a chance to fill that spot,” said Light. “It doesn’t matter to me what position I play on the offensive line, I’d just like to have the opportunity to go in there and do my best and earn a spot sometime down the road.”
“I’m just thrilled and excited. I’m at a loss for words about how I feel right now.”
Light was responsible for the blind side of quarterback Drew Brees during his career at Perdue, and initially joined the team as a tight end during his freshman year. But after the school hired a new head coach Light gained 75 pounds and became a standout at the tackle position. Now he’ll have an opportunity to protect another guy named Drew when he makes his first trip to New England this season.
In the third round the Patriots opted to select defensive back Brock Williams out of Notre Dame, a selection that actually comes as a surprise. New England selected Antwan Harris out of Virginia in the 6th round of last year’s NFL Draft, and both Williams and Harris are similar in their height, weight and speed. As a matter of fact Harris recorded a better 40-time. One of the reasons why Harris reportedly dropped off so far during last year’s draft was primarily due to his injury history and the two players are extremely similar.
Off the field issues also make many wonder about Williams’ character, but the similarity between the two players brings cause to wonder about whether or not it was worth spending a third round choice on a player who they may already have on their roster. Harris spent time in third down situations, recording an interception and a sack and appeared in 14 games last season and has already shown tremendous upside.
As for Williams he was also surprised that New England was interested in him.
“I didn’t know that they were that interested in me, to be honest,” said Williams. “But that’s the way it turned out and I’m fortunate to be there as a third round selection.”
“Being drafted by the Patriots is great and I look forward to going into camp and playing. I’m just happy that I know where I am right now and I know my future.”
New England has eight selections remaining in the draft. They will have the 17th and 24th selections in the 4th round, the 8th, 18th, and 32nd pick in the 5th round, the 7th and 37th selection in round 6, and the 39th pick in the 7th round.
Posted Under: 2001 Patriots Draft
Tags: 2001 Patriots Draft 2001 Patriots Offseason Matt Light New England Patriots Richard Seymour