FOXBOROUGH — Drew Bledsoe was reportedly sitting in his living room early this morning and screaming “Go, Blue!” at the top of his lungs.
By late afternoon, Patriot Nation was screaming “Pick someone!”, perhaps a bit louder.
In a day where the only real satisfied Patriot folk may be inside the Patriot War Room, the Patriots passed on what could have been a key offensive weapon, perhaps plugged a hole in the defensive line, then spent the rest of the day trading down, stockpiling picks for Sunday’s lower rounds. In the end, Patriot Nation was left to wonder exactly what the master plan around here really is.
Bill Belichick knows. Supposedly, that is. It might stop there.
Bledsoe would be screaming the catch phrase of the University of Michigan in his living room thanks to the unlikely chain of events that unfolded early in the first round. In what had to be Belichick’s worst fears realized, Michigan’s star wide receiver, David Terrell, was still available at the six. Here was the key offensive weapon the Patriots so badly needed, despite the needs on the defensive side of the ball. Bledsoe, Terry Glenn, Troy Brown and all of Patriot Nation held its collective breath.
But NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue broke everyone’s hearts with the announcement of the pick. Belichick opted for defensive help instead of catching lightning in a bottle, and selected Georgia’s Richard Seymour. The pick is logical, considering Belichick’s defensive background and the hole at nose guard thanks to the departure of Chad Eaton. But the pick generally did not sit well with the legions of Patriot Nation.
Seymour was the best defensive tackle available at six. Contrary to all mock drafts out there, Cleveland snatched Florida’s Gerard Warren at three. Then Cincinnati took Missouri’s Justin Smith at four, insuring that Terrell would be there at six for the Pats. Belichick desperately wanted to avoid this scenario, as defensive line was his top priority and Seymour was the best player out there at the position with Warren and Smith gone. He wanted to take Seymour and not get any flack for it. So much for that idea.
Two nagging questions will abound. First, is the light Seymour a good 3-4 nose tackle (he’s too slow to be an end)? Second, was selecting Seymour more prudent than passing on Terrell?
This selection is poetic justice at its finest. It is the anti-1996 and the anti-1998 draft all rolled up into one. Poetry doesn’t translate into wins automatically, but it’s nice for the mind.
In 1996, Bill Parcells coveted Tony Brackens, a defensive lineman, at six. However, against Parcells’ wishes, Glenn, a wideout, was taken with the pick.
Then in 1998, the Pats coveted Robert Edwards. He fell to 18, and the Pats were there to grab him. They passed over Vonnie Holliday, who was taken at 19 by Green Bay. Joel Buchsbaum calls Seymour a Vonnie Holliday type.
So, this is a case where the Pats this time eschew the popular wideout and get their Holliday, three years too late. And nobody overruled Belichick today and ordered him to take Terrell. Bob Kraft has obviously learned to back off in the War Room.
Was Seymour the right choice? Buchsbaum says that Seymour is a good fit in a 3-4. Romeo Crennel, the team’s new defensive cordinator and former defensive line coach, likely had some input here on this pick. It will be incumbent upon Crennel, Eric Mangini and Belichick to make Patriot Nation forget about Terrell, who would have made a huge impact on the Patriot offense immediately.
In fairness, the Patriots had lots of needs today. Using the six on the defensive line was good strategy, made adverse only because Terrell was available at six. The Patriots had the rest of the day to take care of other needs, like offensive line, linebacker, tight end, and running back.
They likely will do just that — tomorrow. We think.
After the Seymour pick, Belichick twice traded down. He dealt the 39 pick in the second round to Pittsburgh for a fourth round pick and the 48th selection. Belichick used this pick on Purdue’s Matt Light, a good but unheralded tackle who projects out as a guard in the NFL.
Then in the third round, with several good players still out there, Belichick once again traded down. He sent the 69 pick to Minnesota for the 86th selection and another fourth rounder. At 86, the Pats took an obscure cornerback from Notre Dame named Brock Williams. The Pats were left with two fourths, three fifths, two sixths and a seventh going into tomorrow.
Light was a left tackle at Purdue. His physical skills were praised, but is too slow to be an NFL tackle. He projects out at challenging Joe Panos for a starting guard spot. Drafting Light also could mean the end of the line for Max Lane, and either of Joe Andruzzi or Sale Isaia could be gone as well.
If Light moves in at guard, the tackles appear set with Adrian Klemm, Greg Robinson-Randall and Grant Williams. Light’s hard-hitting, ferocious style is the best of what he’ll bring to the table, and what will win him a job in the near future, if not this year.
The third-round pick is quite perplexing. With the signing of Terence Shaw and Kato Serwanga, and the presence of Ty Law and Antonio Langham, cornerback wasn’t that big of a need. But Belichick selected Williams, a player with more downside than upside, and a history that includes a brush with the law.
Williams, according to Buchsbaum, “lacks size and is a below-average run defender…does not always play to his timed speed…works out better than he plays”. He did say that Williams is quick with improved technique, and is good in man-to-man coverage.
A bit more troubling is the report that Williams was involved in an alcohol-related arrest in 1999. This was part of a team suspension that included violating curfew and parking tickets. This pick is a disaster if Williams turns out to be the next Christian Peter, as the Kraft family has shown a great intolerance of poor personal character in their players.
The Patriots renounced the rights to Peter a few years back after background checks failed to uncover his legal troubles at Nebraska. Peter was a fifth-round choice, but Williams is a third. That’s a heck of a difference, and a lot more of a blunder than Peter.
All in all, it was a day that tasted more bad than good. In a day which could very well break the general managing career of Belichick, he may have missed the boat and taken some chances. Terrell could be 2001’s Vonnie Holliday, Light was a projected fourth-rounder taken in the second, and Williams is already a character issue.
However, if Seymour turns out to be the moose on the defensive line that Belichick envisions him to be, everyone will feel a lot better. There is no question that Seymour addressed a team need, and was the best player available at six for that position.
Tomorrow, it’s K-Mart special time. Belichick goes in there with lots of coupons.
Trouble is, more coupons from Saks Fifth Avenue were needed.
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