New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs

Second day raises eyebrows, but tough to argue with the players they chose

Bill drafted a new boyfriend in Ryan Mallett

The 2010 draft spoiled Patriots fans. It was the first year Belichick appeared to target specific needs and aim to fill them.

The Patriots needed a bruising inside linebacker, so they drafted the obvious choice Brandon Spikes. In need of an outside linebacker pass rusher, he picked Jermaine Cunningham. Then he filled in the void at TE by drafting the two best in the draft Gronkowski and Hernandez. If I remember correctly, these picks were as well received as any in Belichick’s draft history. Some questioned the selection of McCourty, but that was because noone had heard of him, not because they didn’t need a cornerback.

I think that draft created an atmosphere of expectation in New England. Entering this draft, for some reason, we sought more of the same–for Belichick to attack the needs at pass rush, fortify the offensive line and maybe get a runningback or a wide receiver. But really, the last two needs were secondary options in the minds of the fans. Expectation 1,2 and 3 for this draft was to get someone to scare opposing quarterbacks.

Instead, today we’re the ones scared and confused because yesterday was the day we were supposed to get that pass rusher.Entering the draft, most people agreed that the Patriots strongest areas are their secondary and quarterback positions. Definitely. So why would they pick a cornerback Ras-I Dowling instead of Akeem Ayers, Brooks Reed, or  Jabaal Sheard, and then not take an outside linebacker later? It’s a fact that they need a better pass rush. So where is that going to come from?

Of course, the next question to ask is: are we overreacting. I know the ‘Bill knows what he’s doing’ argument can get old, but he probably does.

Does anyone who wanted Ayers, Reed or Sheard really know anything about them except that they could player OLB and maybe rush the QB? For one thing, none of these guys even fit the Lawrence Taylor OLB mold. The tallest of the three is 6’3 (Sheard), one (Reed) projects as more of a small DE, and the third (Ayers) doesn’t look like a pass-rusher; he’ll probably be more of a do-everything man in the NFL.

If this isn’t enough to make you feel better, Bill was unusually candid yesterday talking about his selections, perhaps anticipating our feelings might be a little hurt today.

Talking about the pass rush he said, “We have some young players and I think that they will still continue to develop. There are good players up there on the board [but] we got the ones that we felt were the best for us.”

Players make the biggest jump, year 1 to year 2, so Belichick is probably high on Cunningham’s chances of turning into the exact player we’re all looking for.

People forget how long it took Willie McGinest to learn the OLB position. Even Wikipedia, which says, “He was one of the cornerstones for New England’s success in winning the Super Bowl in 2001, 2003, and 2004.”

That’s false. In 2001 he was still struggling to learn the new position, and there was talk that he might be done with the Patriots. Then he figured it out, and was a cornerstone in 2003 and 2004. So, it’s reasonable for Bill to still be high on Cunningham. There is a reason he drafted him. People like to believe in quick fixes, but the reality is, if the Pats selected a DE this year, and switched him to OLB, they probably wouldn’t see that player impact the pass-rush until 2012 at the earliest.

But maybe this is the wrong way to look at the draft all together. Instead of looking at what we didn’t get, we should be looking at we did.

It’s impossible to evaluate cornerbacks on highlight video and combine numbers, so we won’t know anything about Ras-I Dowling until he has to cover NFL wideouts. But the prospect of McCourty and Dowling teaming up to shut down opponents is exciting. If it works out, this will already upgrade the pass rush.

As for the runningbacks, I’m not sure what to make of Stevan Ridley, except last year, his only as a starter, he rushed for 1,147 yards  and 15 touchdowns.

Shane Vereen put up similar production, rushing for 1,167 yards, with 13 touchdowns, and his noted for his receiving abilities. He had 22 receptions last year for 209 yards and 3 tds.

People are comparing him to Kevin Faulk because of that. But he’s bigger, stronger, and faster than Faulk, looking life much more of a three-down back. In the highlight video posted by Russ, below, he shows amazing vision, with the ability to run downhill, or break it outside. He looks like a stud.

Then there’s Ryan Mallett, 6’7” quarterback from Arkansas who threw for 3,869 yards last year with 32 TDs and a 64.7 completion percentage.

It was only a matter of time before the Patriots drafted Brady’s replacement, and here he is.

Analysts say he would have been a first round pick if not for his questionable character.

Greg Bedard detailed the red flags for the Globe. He wrote:

 “Besides a public intoxication charge in 2009 at Arkansas, Mallett was rumored to have used drugs in college. Two personnel executives with teams looking for a quarterback said that in predraft interviews Mallett admitted to only using marijuana.

“We didn’t believe him,’’ one of the executives said. The other hinted as much.

There are no concerns about Mallett’s love of football. When he’s in the building, at practice and on game day, the son of a high school coach is all in.

It’s the other hours that concerned teams.

“Things just aren’t right with him,’’ one NFL executive said. “Has the drugs and alcohol stuff. He can be a hothead. Carries himself like the 6-7 Eminem. He’s just a different dude. Maybe they can keep him in check. They can take that risk. We can’t.’’

Personally, I find this hilarious, and awesome. Aaron Hernandez anyone? If the guy loves football, and is going to study and put the time in, that’s all I care about.

Especially when he’s got Bill Belichick gushing.

Mike Rodak, on ESPNBoston catalogued this:

“We just felt like he was a good player. He’s had a lot of production. He’s won everywhere he’s been: high school, college,” Belichick said. “He did a good job at Michigan. They came in and changed offenses and that was definitely beyond his control. I think he’s been a successful, productive quarterback all the way through his career: high school, college. He’s an impressive guy to talk to.”

Belichick also noted how Mallett is the son of a football coach. “He’s definitely a football guy. He’s a great kid to talk to, and he’s very into football. You can’t wear him out; as long as you want to talk about it, he’ll be there,” Belichick said. “However many hours it is, he’s ready to go watch the film or go talk about a new technique or a route or a read or whatever.”

“Both his parents are educators and he’s a kid that’s eager to learn and has a great thirst for knowledge for football and for his position, which there is a lot going on there,” he continued. “I think that he’ll certainly get an opportunity to receive a lot of knowledge at that position around here, so we’ll see how it all manifests itself.”

That’s enough for me. Consider me excited by all these players. But probably not as excited as Bill is to start dating Ryan Mallett.


Enjoyed this post?
Subscribe to Patriots Gab via RSS Feed or E-mail and receive daily news updates from us!

Submit to Digg  Stumble This Story  Share on Twitter  Post on Facebook  Post on MySpace  Add to del.icio.us  Bark It Up  Submit to Reddit  Fave on Technorati

2 Responses to “Second day raises eyebrows, but tough to argue with the players they chose”

  1. […] made a big difference for him? Either Belichick is getting far more effusive with his praise (see http://www.patriotsgab.com/2011/04/30/1807/) or he’s a big fan of Taylor Price’s work.    The absurd man’s play of the game […]

  2. […] made a big difference for him? Either Belichick is getting far more effusive with his praise (see http://www.patriotsgab.com/2011/04/30/1807/) or he’s a big fan of Taylor Price’s work.    The absurd man’s play of the game […]

Leave a Reply