NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
Every Friday moving forward, I’m going to be answering some questions from Twitter that might take a little (or a lot) more words than 140 characters.
I know a lot of writers have done this in the past (hello Bill Simmons), but it’s a fun way to answer some of the burning questions that you guys have about the Patriots and the NFL Draft.
If you have a question about anything, tweet it to me @DougKyed, and I’ll try to include it in the column on Friday.
I can definitely see the Patriots targeting a WR in the first two rounds, especially with McDaniels as the new offensive coordinator. A lot depends on what the Patriots can get out of free agency and whether the rumors of Brandon Lloyd coming over with McDaniels are true or overblown.
As far as who the Patriots might be looking at in the first couple rounds, I could see them going after any of the big names if they happen to fall too far: Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd, Alshon Jeffery. It’s not likely that any of those players will still be around when the Patriots are picking and I wouldn’t personally like trading up for a WR with such a deep class.
I think the most important thing in finding a WR that fits the Patriots system is getting yards after the catch, which is what makes Joe Adams so appealing. He’s one of the most dangerous open field runners coming out this year and he could add a real threat as a return specialist as well. Adams is a versatile player who’s not afraid to show his skills taking the ball out of the backfield as well.
The Patriots actually spread the ball around more before McDaniels left for Denver, I’d expect them to stock up on more targets for Brady so that he’s not just keying in on Welker (as long as he’s resigned), Gronkowski and Hernandez.
The Patriots will also definitley target a veteran wide receiver this offseason. They do it every year and it results in various degrees of lack of production (from no production at all to the peak, which was probably Chad Ochocinco. Yeah, it never works out).
I could see them moving up, because there’s definitely some players at positions of need that have standout talent early. I’d put the chances of the Patriots taking two first round picks at less than 50% though.
Two players I wouldn’t mind seeing the Patriots trade up for are Michael Brockers and Courtney Upshaw. Both fill big needs early and could become elite players, which is exactly what the Patriots need on defense.
In my opinion, the talent level that should be available late in the first round/throughout the second round is very close. There’s a lot of defensive linemen and defensive backs that I have second round grades on, so if they could acquire a 2013 first and either a 2012 second or 2012 third, it makes a lot of sense to me. Would you rather draft Stephon Gilmore, or draft Casey Hayward and get a first round pick next year? Or would you rather draft Fletcher Cox, or draft Brandon Thompson and get a first round pick next year? Those will be the questions Belichick will have to answer come April.
Of course, Belichick always does the unexpected, so we should all probably just expect him to trade all of his picks into the first round and take four tight ends. And one tackle in the 7th round (hellooo John Cullen).
Notorious Patriots draft hater Josh Norris chimes in with a question. If anything, I feel like the Patriots have been far more willing to just take the best player, rather than the biggest need lately.
The Patriots have also been taking more risks lately than they were willing to take back in 06-08. Players like Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Deaderick, Brandon Spikes, Ras-I Dowling, Stevan Ridley, Ryan Mallett and Marcus Cannon had all fallen on draft boards for one reason or another whether that was drugs, speed, injuries, fumbling issues or you know, cancer. Sometimes those picks don’t pay off, but lately, whether it’s luck, research or interviewing, they have.
I’d also argue that 2009 was a pretty successful draft for the Patriots, it had its misses (Darius Butler, Brandon Tate, Tyrone McKenzie, George Bussey, Jake Ingram, Darryl Richard), but it also had some big hits (Patrick Chung, Sebastian Vollmer, Myron Pryor, Julian Edelman) and a couple players it might be too early to tell on (Rob Brace, Rich Ohrnberger). I think it’s pretty standard to hit on less than half your draft picks, there’s just going to be a whole lot more when you’re drafting twelve players.
There’s little reasons every year that you can go back to for why the Patriots picks didn’t work out, for instance, in ‘07, they took Meriweather in the first round, then didn’t have another pick until the fourth round. It’s harder to hit on those late round guys than it is to hit on second or third rounders.
One thing that’s pretty interesting is that the Patriots have been more successful in the draft since Scott Pioli left and since he’s pretty much taken full control of player personnel (with the help of Nick Caserio). Belichick has a knack for finding undrafted or discarded talent, if he can keep finding more elite talent in the draft, the Patriots should, umm, keep being good?