The Patriots off-season has been incredibly exciting, with a great 2010 NFL Draft, setting themselves up well for the 2011 NFL Draft, and some great free agent signings.
Resigning of Vince Wilfork/Leigh Bodden
Wilfork and Bodden represent two things that went well on 2009’s defense that never lived up to expectations. Both were resigned to contracts that benefited the players and the team, leaving both sides feeling good. With Wilfork back in the fold, the Patriots were free to focus their draft efforts away from the defensive line.
Drafting of Brandon Spikes
Brandon Spikes will bring a “culture change” to the Patriots. He is a hard-nosed tackler that enjoys being physical, something that few people would have called the Patriots in 2009. Spikes will allow Jerod Mayo to flow to the ball more, with Spikes lining up at the Mike. Don’t be surprised if Spikes moves to OLB on 3rd-down, as he is a proven pass-rusher.
Three New Tight Ends
With the addition of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and veteran Alge Crumpler, the Patriots have completely remodeled their TE position. Crumpler and “Gronk” bring the physicality in the blocking game that the Patriots have missed since Daniel Graham left, while Hernandez and Gronkowski were deadly in the NCAA passing game.
Releasing Adalius Thomas
The evil is gone.
Drafting Zoltan Mesko
How does a punter make this list? If the Patriots do have to punt, which hopefully doesn’t happen to often, Mesko is an incredibly adept directional punter with a powerful leg to boot. The biggest impact, however, will hopefully be the lack of an impact on pro-bowl kicker Stephen Gostkowski, as former Patriots punter Chris Hanson has held for Gostkowski the last few years. Mesko was a great holder at Michigan and has performed well so far in mini-camps.
Honorable Mention: Torry Holt
Signing veteran WR’s makes Patriot fans nervous, especially after the “Galloway Incident”. Holt has shown no signs of being that bad, and has the potential to be a reliable #4 option for Tom Brady.