2011 Patriots Draft Picks Review – Part 1

Nate Solder Patriots Draft

Nate Solder was the first pick for the Patriots - will he be our favorite pick of the draft?

We’ve heard what the commenters think about the 2011 NFL Draft for the Patriots so far, but now it is our turn to go in depth what we liked and didn’t like about the 2011 Patriots Draft Picks.

Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Why we like it: The Patriots now have bookend tackles to last them for perhaps the rest of the decade, provided that they can keep Solder and Vollmer re-signed. Protecting an aging Tom Brady has to be a priority. Solder provides the best marriage of future potential and current production of any linemen save perhaps Tyron Smith.

Why we don’t: Passing on some potential impact defensive players like Cam Jordan, as well as not trading up for a Robert Quinn or Aldon Smith might be a decision that gets second-guessed if the Patriots 3rd-down defense doesn’t improve in 2012.

Preliminary Grade: A

Trading 28th Pick for 56th Pick and 2012 1st Rounder
Why we like it: The Patriots got some great future value while still being able to pick a good player (Shane Vereen) at a position of need. The Saints 1st-rounder in 2012 could be used for the exact same trade – perennially providing an extra 2nd rounder.

Why we don’t:If Ty Warren and Ron Brace aren’t fully recovered from their injuries, Mo Wilkerson will be missed. Mark Ingram will always be compared against Shane Vereen as well.

Preliminary Grade: A-

Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Why we like it: As Coach Belichick stated, “Corners are like pitchers in baseball, you can’t have too many good ones.” Dowling probably would have been a top-20 pick without an ankle injury marring his senior season. The triumvirate of Dowling, Devin McCourty, and Leigh Bodden should give the Patriots front-seven that extra half-second to get to the quarterback.

Why we don’t: Three potential 3-4 OLB’s (Brooks Reed, Akeem Ayers, and Jabaal Sheard) were drafted in the next few picks. Fans will not be happy if they have a Clay Matthews-esque impact, regardless of whether that would happen in the Patriots system.

Preliminary Grade: A-

Shane Vereen, RB, California
Why we like it: The Patriots got younger and deeper at the running back position with the pick of Shane Vereen. His combination of speed, strength, vision, and hands is tough to duplicate. Vereen’s versatility will help offensive-coordinator Bill O’Brien help disguise his plays.

Why we don’t: Nothing – our favorite RB in the draft for the Patriots at a decent spot.

Preliminary Grade: A

Trade 60th Pick for 73rd and 138th Picks
Why we like it: This pick allowed the Patriots the flexibility to pick up some incredible values later in the draft, which you’ll see later in Part Two.

Why we don’t:Not a strong dislike, but the Patriots passed on two potential pass-rushers with issues, Justin Houston (Drugs) and Martez Wilson (scheme/injuries). This eventually might turn out to be something we do like about this trade.

Preliminary Grade: A-

We’ll pick things up with Round Three and beyond in Part Two – some of those picks/trades won’t be given A’s.

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52 Responses to “2011 Patriots Draft Picks Review – Part 1”

  1. Mikey Cee says:

    Well we’ve learned that Belicheck will keep the draft interesting….

  2. Bill S says:

    I get the feeling that after Quinn and Aldon Smith, Patsd just didn’t like anyone. After he picked Dowling, he gave up on the Sheard and Reed, but I would have thought he took a flyer on KJ Wright or Chris Carter late. I guess we’ll see.

    • Phil says:

      Yeah we shouldn’t have let Chris Carter go to the Squeelers. They are pretty good at drafting LB’s and we dropped the ball on that one. But i do like the Markell Carter pick…looks like a natural at setting the edge (in the limited film i saw). We need to bring Big Willie back to coach these OLB up a bit. I like Matt Patricia but i don’t think he has the in-game experience to help them make the transition. I hope he proves me wrong and this group dominates this year.

      • Sean says:

        Patricia was moved to Safeties Coach and they have Patrick Graham coaching LB’s now. He’s been with the team since 2009 as an assistant.

        • Phil says:

          good call, i forgot about that. well then i hope this former DEnd can coach up these OLB’s 🙂

  3. Steve says:

    Something I will never understand:

    Why doesn’t it sink in that there are often 3 corners on the field at once, and always 2? What is so difficult about this simple math?

    These same “experts” (Tom E. Curren) still are questioning why we drafted another corner. We had one professional last year…Bodden went down (average corner), and McCourty stepped in and saved the season…Butler couldn’t do the job and Arrington played his butt off, but isn’t good enough in coverage.

    So, we needed a corner!

    These same people will state the obvious before and after such stupid comments: that it’s a pass-crazy league etc…So, why wouldn’t this demand great pass defenders?

    Curren actually named Butler as a corner for us…stating his case to draft another position. Well, if you watched the games you realize Butler wasn’t able to cover anyone and was exploited the entire season…when he wasn’t benched or replaced. What is this guy watching? Not to mention he did the same thing last year when we drafted McCourty and looked like a fool because the guy was amazing. It’s leaning on the hot stove again and again…never learning the lesson.

    I think this town deserves better sports coverage and the networks should look a bit harder for someone with some brains and football knowledge…not a side show.

    • TD says:

      This should also free up Chung to play the normal S role instead of having the difficult task of playing slot receivers and taking away his value as a hard hitting saftey that can cause turnovers.

    • Alvin says:

      Agreed. There was only one true cover corner on the field last year. They gave up too many 3rd downs with guys just running free in the secondary – Arrington was a J-O-K-E. Another corner will allow more flexibility back there.

    • prioris says:

      butler saved the second half of last season

      • Phil says:

        ??? with what pass interference calls??? This guy holds more than the offensive line put together…he is a bum! I am glad we took a chance with Ras-I who has the ability to play center field…unlike Merriwhether. It means we can also play Arrington on the slot where he can be a pass rush threat. A good and CONSISTENT secondary will allow BB to be more creative with his blitzes…bottom line…BB knows what he is doing But i am sure he won’t just sit tight with the group he has…he will mix in some veterans to see what they can offer to the organization.

  4. Jared says:

    I love Kevin Faulk, I just dont know where he fits in now.

    • Steve says:

      It’s looking like he doesn’t, but I agree…he (is) was a great for us…one of the best 3rd down backs ever. Maybe he’ll stay and coach, or they’ll find a role for him somewhere.

    • CC says:

      Kevin Faulk is “deserving” and IMO has “earned” the right of one more year with the Pat’s & specifically go out in better style, rather than just out and ending it due to injury for all he has done for the org/team.
      He’ll continue playing for a year as well as being mentor/tutor for the newbies, then “Retire a New England Patriot”, as it should be!
      *FAULK for 1 more…. WOODY, The LAW FIRM and VEREEN. Check!
      This Ridley pick….? An Uneccessary waste of a pick, hand’s down.
      We surely could have picked up another back for that “WASTED PICK” through FA, trade or next year’s draft.

      • Jared says:

        sounds nice….but Bill Belichick dont give sh*t about anyones rights, no-one is above the system.

      • TD says:

        He has earned it if he beats the new guys out, bottom line.

        • Jared says:

          yes, obviously. you were implying that if he gets beat out, Bill wont cut him because he has “earned” the right for one more year, thats totally different.

    • Andrew says:

      Faulk is awesome, just old and injured. I wish this guy the best and hope he coaches here, but he just needs to retire. We need to stay with the youth movement, especially at the RB position.

      • Jared says:

        have to agree, sorry Kevin.

      • CC says:

        That’s what’s being done yes(the youth movement cpmparred to the wasted Taylor&Morriss ages movement)…. but Faulk is an old school right hand BB guy, an original and an “all about the house” (meaning…all about the team guy), kinda guy.
        Not only is and will he be a great coach/teacher as he has been for the newbey’s, but Faulk is one who is on a very, very “SHORT BB LIST”, that warrent’s one more year if he wanted it.
        Faulk will go out with “other than by injury status”, and coah/mentor as well.

  5. Jon L. says:

    I don’t understand all they hype about Vereen. I like that he is versatile, but I feel we already have that covered with Woodehead and Faulk. I know Faulk is getting older, but he can still get the job done and Woodhead is electric.

    • Ryan Buske says:

      In all honest, I’m not sure we will be able to resign either of them. I have a feeling they will both wan the cash. Just my opinion, Woodhead had some of the top jersey sales in the league (screams jerry jones).

      • Jeff says:

        Woodhead already signed an extension with the Pats. He’s there for 2-3 more years I think.
        He’s not going anywhere but BJGE did not resign and will be in line for a $$$ day if he goes over 1,000 yds again.
        He didn’t sign his extension this year so he’ll be replaced by Ridley next year if he tries going for the money.
        Bill’s always got two eyes on the NOW and one on the future.
        Yes…I just said BB has three eyes.

    • Steve says:

      It’s curious, but I feel they went after replacing Taylor and Morris, and maybe Faulk, so drafting 2 doesn’t mean Woodhead is gone at all. I think the team sees the great results from Woodhead, and other smaller/quicker backs, and this trend was continued….only not quite as small, but leaning towards quicker backs.

    • TD says:

      These guys are insurance and to spell the top 2 guys to make them more effective.

      • prioris says:

        All the RB’s can get easily depleted by injuries. Look at what happen to Denver. Of course, the Pats have a better OL so the RB will probably suffer fewer injuries.

  6. andy says:

    pats lost in playoffs because of brady’s int,crumplers drop,chungs fumble and the o-lines inability to block three and four man pressure.the pats d played with their backs to the wall most of the game and acquitted themselves very well.the addition of a solid wr through free agency or trade and the drafting of mammoth o-linemen and rb’s will only make the offense even better this year.would adding a pass rusher help? of course but keeping brady upright is by far more important. i’m fairly sure the head coach has a pretty good read on what his teams needs are.

  7. Jeff says:

    I agree with your assessment, and it’s not because I am a homer. Following the first two days of the draft, I was unsure of how I felt about what the team had done, so I did a great deal of research and reflecting and have come to really like this draft. In general they have done what they always do: draft talented, high character players who have football as a priority. For example Solder graduated from Colorado with honors and a degree in Biology. And while that says nothing about whether or not he can play football (which we know he can anyway), it does say something about fitting into the culture that has been established in Foxboro and continuing the legacy they have created there. Dowling is a number one talent, Vereen a complete back with position versatility-can be split out and used as a receiver and Ridley a bulldozer back who will contribute especially on those third and fourth and shorts that are so important. All three of them can contribute on special teams as well. Mallett is a number one talent (with alleged character issues-we’ll see about that), Cannon is a second or third round talent drafted in the fifth (albeit with medical concerns) who should be able to contribute to the offensive line play, Smith is regarded by Mike Mayock as the best in-line blocker in the draft and could take over the Crumpler role after next year. Carter and Williams have an outside shot at making the team as Special Teamers but certainly project as practice squad players.

    People shouldn’t forget that we also added another 1 and a 2 for next year on top of the players we drafted. There is also the criticism out there that the Patriots keep adding number one picks and then don’t use them. What people don’t realize, and I don’t remember where I heard this or I would cite it, that the extra number one pick is collateral-in other words by trading it they can continue to add a one for the next season, but it is really used for adding another 2 which they will take. So, in essence the whole point is to get another second round pick for your team each year, and we all know the value of second round picks when they are used wisely.

    The truth is that we’ll all have to wait a few years to really judge this draft fairly; however, I’m very upbeat about it now especially considering how I was feeling on Friday night.

  8. Steve says:

    People want to exclude the future picks, but you can’t…it’s a draft process, and trading picks is an option, and a good one. BB has learned to live in the 2nd round…that’s the perfect strategy with the current salary structure…can’t get killed, and the draft is hit or miss…it’s dealing with this reality and getting quality players. Not to mention you own them for 4 years, or so, and they have to run through walls to earn their money…don’t underplay this little fact.

    I love the fact that suddenly, hoping Cannon joins the team as some point after a solid recovery (which is his medical), the Pats will have a massive O-line. If Smith makes the team as the heir to Crumpler you have added another large body for some sets that is comparable to having another tackle. Let’s see defenses deal with this going forward.

    Dowling is a bit of a risk, but he obviously cleared medical, and the guy has the size and skill that is welcomed at that position. He’s pretty tough too…I like his game a lot, long, fast and can cover. Our season was saved by McCourty last year….we were down to 1 corner who could cover a soul and the rest tried hard but couldn’t get it done…were picked apart. We need three solid corners and now we have 3. That souinds like “NEED” to me…a full-time position…money position, however you want to term it. I see a Cromartie type talent minus the offspring….kids a solid dude…as are all these guys…very solid and well-spoken…higher character than usual even with the Pats high standards….I love it …I can root for them all more…they can learn better…good kids do better at adjusting….good business.

    I also love that they went “QUICK’ with both back…quick is in…it works, as defenses keep getting larger these smaller backs with great quicks make yards….cause problems. See Jones-Drew, Woodward, Best etc…We now have 2 more that were needed and are not going to be dead roster spots…young, strong, good hands on Vareen…dynamic and tough.

    Cannon will be an amazing guard…something we’ve never had…a road-grader, who actually has the feet to play tackle, but having that bulk will be tough to push around. A new philosophy is very welcome.

    It will be fun to see if this kid can rush the passer…I watched the limited film and he has some talent…a great balance of size, speed and athleticism, and he seems pretty smart….we’ll see on him. If he can get to the passer and cause some pressure he can play in some sets and that’s enough…grow and learn the overall position.

    Great draft….

    • kevin says:


    • Andrew says:

      You summed it up great! Even though that guy Carter was picked in the 6th round, I also have high hopes for him. Last I checked, he has the prototypical size to play OLB in our system, and saw him coming off of the right every time on a video I found on YouTube. I hope we can also sign Mark Herzlich when there’s a new labour agreement, and just cut TBC for a roster spot.

    • rdf63 says:

      Good analysis of the draft. Solder is an All American tackle and with All Pro Vollmer who is only 26, the Pats have bookend tackles for possibly next 6 – 8 years. Cannon was a great 5th round pick and an absolutely terrific run blocker. If the Pats can sign Mankins, they may have rebuilt the OLline with these picks. If he doesn’t sign, Cannon can step in and be his replacement. The TCU coach stated that Cannon would be better at guard than tackle.
      Dowling has a ton of ability and size and if he stays healthy the Pats may have the best and most physical pair of CB’s in the entire league.

  9. j says:

    Realistically, the one pick in this draft that bothers me is the Ridley pick. I’m not saying he’s not a very good player, but I would have preferred a pass rusher. I didn’t think DE was a need with Brace growing and Warren coming back, so I’m not sour about not drafting a 5 technique.

    • Jared says:

      Agreed…one of the biggest reaches in the draft. ANd still a pretty high pick beeing the 9th pick in the 3rd round.

    • Jeff says:

      This is where I agree completely. Ridley was a reach, and I think there were better power RB’s on the board that could’ve been taken later…
      Demarco Murray for one.
      That pick would’ve been better suited for an OLB/pass rusher.
      I’m still holding out hope that we’ll sign Herzlich when UDFA starts.

    • Andrew says:

      This seems like a long shot, but they can always cut that Landon Cohen (they probably will anyway) and try to sign Cullen Jenkins out of FA. I highly doubt it though since that guy will probably want a contract in diamonds.

  10. Jeff V says:

    I like Dowling….but Vereen and Ridley…seriously? Doubt either will be with the team in 2 years. If you are going to waste picks why not just take a shot at OLBs and DEs?

    • Jeff says:

      No doubt this guy is also one of the pundits who said that McCourty would be a ST player last year.
      Oh and yes Solder will be starting at LT this year, unless the lockout lasts too long and then it will be Vollmer…this is where Matt Light get’s off the Pat Train I’m afraid.
      I’ll enjoy when you’re wrong about Vereen as well, as he is the absolute 100% best RB in the draft for the Pats scheme and fits like a glove.
      Miles and away the best pass protecting while being able to catch out of the backfield, bounce outside and run between the tackles.
      He’s the most complete back in the draft bar none.

    • TD says:

      Instead of playing into Jets and GB’s hands, what do those teams do when we have both Woody and Vereen in the backfield isolated on LB’s and DB’s? Answer? The LB’s roll up on the RB’s freeing Gronk and Hernandez to work the middle of the field on DB’s.

    • prioris says:

      vereen does a 455 pound squat thrust. that’s a lot of power in his legs.

      i wouldn’t be surprised he is standout RB this year

  11. Jeff V says:

    Solder will not start at LT this year…mark it down. Why is a good thing…the guy needs to hit the weight room for a year.

    • prioris says:

      if matt light doesn’t sign, he will eventually start this year. upper vody strength less important in football. marcell dareus bench press were mediocre also.

  12. James says:

    Where is Part Two?

  13. Josh says:

    Wow, talk about a homer report card!

    • NEPD says:

      We knew we’d get this type of response, but we’re not going to lie about what we think. The Patriots got a great player or great future/present value at each spot.

      • JR says:

        Pretty easy to figure out who the pats were going to draft. Watch sports science on ESPN. They have taken 3 players the last 2 years who were featured on the show. McCorty, Mallet and Solder. Just sayin

    • Jared says:

      agreed, A’s for everything….gimme a break. Ras-I Dowling…an A-….at the first pick of the 2nd round…looks like someone spiked the belichick kool-aid and drank a little too much.

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