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I want to preface this by saying that I am no draft expert. I casually watch college football on Saturdays in the fall, but a majority of that time is spent with one hand firmly grasping a beer and the other hand deeply entrenched down my sweatpants, firmly grasping something else. Not exactly the look or behavior of a well respected voice on the ability of amateur football players.
So I’ll spare all (five) of my readers from the charade of putting together a well composed and highly analytical review of what the Patriots did in this year’s draft. In fact, the most I can tell you about any of the dudes we picked this go around is that the punter we choose in the 5th Round has the name of a magician and that he once ate it pretty hard and was then trampled by his teammates while coming out of the tunnel during a college game (which at first viewing looks bad, then you realize he’s probably pretty good at taking roughing the kicker penalties).
That’s it. That is literally all I can tell you about our draft picks this year. But at least I’m honest about that, which you can’t say about pretty much every other sports writer and commentator in North America, who come draft time pretends they’re more knowledgeable about football than the guys who watch it for 10 hours a day everyday.
The fact is, none of us know how these guys are going to pan out. Hell, Mel Kiper Jr., a guy considered by the general public and by NFL insiders to be one of the foremost authorities on the NFL Draft once said that JaMarcus Russell would be an “elite, Top 5 QB in the league” when he was drafted #1 overall by the Raiders in 2007. Several local writers (whom are quite talented and insightful) criticized the Pats for picking guys like Logan Mankins, Richard Seymour and Matt Light, and if memory serves me right, those guys turned out to be pretty damn good, just like heralded picks like Laurence Maroney and Chad Jackson turned out to be disappointing.
So, if the guys who are considered experts don’t even get this crap right, how the hell is some jackass like me supposed to make an intelligent comment on it? It’s impossible. So I won’t even try, because while I might be an idiot, I’m not one to openly pursue endeavors that prove it.
What I can honestly and accurately say about the Pats and their approach to the draft is that they follow the same rules when shopping for players that my mother did when shopping for groceries—you get what you need, and get the best value. I always wanted the soft, triple-ply toilet paper and the name brand cereal. I always got the rough, single-ply and the Shaw’s brand Cheerios. Was I ecstatic about these purchases? Not really. But at least I didn’t have a dirty ass and there was breakfast on the table each morning.
The Pats are the same way. I’m not overly excited with any of the groceries Belichick brought home from his shopping trip in New York. I would’ve loved to have Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant. And the Pats could have picked him late in Round 1, on two different occasions. But they didn’t. Maybe it was because he had character issues. Maybe the Pats didn’t want to pay him. Maybe Belichick wanted another cornerback so he could round out his All-Secondary softball team for this summer. Or maybe it’s just that high-profile, big-money skill players like Bryant aren’t the type of products Belichick brings home from the store.
Instead, Bill just stuck to shopping list, not making any impulse buys, like he always does. We needed some pass rushers, so he got a pair of linebackers and a pair of defensive linemen. Brady needed some targets to throw to, so he got a couple of tight ends and a wide receiver. We needed to shore up the O-line, so we did.
Will some of these guys end up sucking and be out of the league in a few years? More than likely. But will some of them be highly valuable picks who end up contributing a great deal to this team? That’s something I’m sure of (see Edelman, Julian).
Look, I know it’s fun and easy to crap all over what happens at the draft, and it’s even easier to write about. That’s why you’re much more likely to read negative reviews of a team’s draft than you are to read a positive one. But I refuse to fall into that camp, because like I said, I don’t know a damn thing about these guys or what type of NFL players they’ll become, and before you go criticizing Belichick and his staff, you should remember that you don’t either. Belichick did his job. He addressed some needs and set us up for the future (that 1st Rounder we have from Oakland next year will probably be a Top 10 Pick, because if there’s any absolutes in life, it’s that the Oakland Raiders are going to suck, not to mention that whoever we take in the 1st round will be much easier and cheaper to sign because there will probably be a max-rookie contract in place by next year).
I know the groceries Bill brought home to New England may not be the sweet, sugary cereal and luxurious toilet paper we all so desperately wanted. And I know you want to bitch about that. But be grateful, because come football season, at least your ass won’t be dirty and you have something to eat, which is much more than some other teams can say.