With the 2010 NFL Draft just a few days away I decided to take a look at the drafts of the last ten years, otherwise known as the Belichick era. It can only be described as a mixed bag. Obviously, they have made some outstanding draft picks, including in Bill’s first year with Tom Brady in the 6th round, but that one is pretty well known by now. Let’s not forget they have made some terrible picks as well; just look at the 2007 draft. Besides Brandon Merriwether, not a single pick is currently on the Pats roster.
The Patriots over the past 10 years have been able to find great value in the later rounds, which I would consider the 4th-7th rounds (see example of Tom Brady as stated above). Some of the players include David Givens (7th in ’02), Asante Samuel (4th), Dan Koppen (5th) and Tully Banta-Cain (7th) all in 2003; James Sanders (4th) and Matt Cassell (7th), both in 2005; and Stephen Gostkowski (4th in ’06). And it may be too early to tell but Julien Edelman (7th in “09) seems like pretty good value to me. The main reason I’m telling you this is because the Pats have 5 picks just in the 7th round of this year’s draft so maybe they will uncover a hidden gem very late on Saturday.
It’s very rare that the Patriots pick in the Top 15 in any draft but when the do, they make sure they draft a stud. Richard Seymour(6th pick in 2001), Ty Warren (13th pick in 2003) and Jerod Mayo (10th pick in 2008), for example, but most years they find themselves picking at the back end of the first round much like they do this year. Most years they make pretty solid picks, such as Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins, but also I would say they have missed with Lawrence Maroney, Benjamin Watson and Daniel Graham — all 3 have never played like 1st round picks.
The 2010 draft has been described as being loaded with plenty of talent and the Patriots have 4 picks in the first 2 rounds and will be looking for impact players to put into the line-up immediately but the question is, as always, which direction will they go? All signs point to defense, especially on the D-Line or help at linebacker and most likely a pass-catching tight end. It is possible the will go with a wide receiver with the health of Wes Welker up in the air, but history has shown they have trouble drafting solid offensive skill players early in the draft (Maroney and Chad Jackson ’06), but somewhere in the first 2 rounds I do think they will take a receiver. Scouring the internet looking for mock drafts, the mockers have them drafting all over the place in the 1st round, but the names that continue to come up are: Jarod Odrick DT (Penn State), a hybrid-style lineman who can line-up at several positions, linebackers Brandon Graham (Michigan) and Sergio Kindle (Texas) and Jermaine Gresham (Oklahoma), a big, pass-catching tight end. The only down side is he is coming off a big injury. Then there is the ridiculous mock drafts that have the Patriots taking Tim Tebow in the 1st round, and Dez Bryant, the #1 wide receiver on most boards, slipping all the way to the Patriots which is not likely in my opinion. And it will really surprise me if the Pats use any of their early picks on Tebow. It just doesn’t make any sense, where does he fit in? Myself I’m hoping for Odrick or Gresham.
I know predicting what the Pats will do on draft day is impossible; they have been so inconsistent and have always loved the draft day trade, making it very difficult to pin point the direction they are going. The one thing I do know is that it is going to be interesting and I will be glued to the television.
(By the way, as I was working on this the Pats signed veteran WR Torry Holt, this may change their plans just a tad.)
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Written by Jason Smalley