Patriots Get Defensive

The NFL draft wrapped up last evening, and the Patriots walked away seemingly having addressed a couple of of their most pressing needs: youth at the linebacker and cornerback positions. New England grabbed three linebackers and two defensive backs in the draft, along with a project quarterback and a special teams ace. Perhaps not the most sexy of hauls, but it seems they knew what they wanted and went after it.

Now that the Patriots are Off The Clock, head on over to Patriots Daily for a wrap on what the Patriots did this weekend.

You’ll read plenty of “draft grades” from media types over the next few days, but if history has taught us anything regarding the draft, it is that you cannot accurately judge how well or poor a team did for at least a year, if not more. That won’t stop the proclamation of whether a team was a winner or loser this past weekend, but it should temper reaction to such articles.

Michael Felger (remember him?) asserts that the Patriots changed tact this weekend and drafted for need rather than the best available player. Mike Reiss says that the slogan “younger and faster,” especially on defense, is something that the Patriots clearly had on their minds with this draft. Mark Farinella has the Patriots filling some needs (LB, CB) aggressively, while leaving others (TE, DL) out. Douglas Flynn says that this draft represents a break from tradition for the Patriots. Ian M. Clark has the Patriots taking care of business this weekend, filling holes while still looking to the future. Shalise Manza Young notes that the Patriots defense is suddenly much younger in just one weekend. David Heuschkel looks at the Patriots changing things up this weekend. I’m officially scared now. Hector Longo gives the Patriots an A+ for this draft because Bill Belichick finally changed his stubborn ways which have led to failure after failure in the draft ever has resulted in his best draft since 2000. I wish I were joking. (Note:Hector is more positive than I originally gave him credit for here.)

Karen Guregian examines Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable, drafted in the third round by the Patriots yesterday and who was raised by his foster mom growing up, someone who was very proud to see what he has accomplished thus far and is happy to see him land in New England. Farinella notes that it was a long, hard road to NFL for Crable. Robert Lee says that Crable is proof that dreams can come true.

Christopher L. Gasper and John Tomase analyze New England’s selection of San Diego State quarterback Kevin O’Connell in the third round yesterday. Farinella adds that the selection might mean its time for Matt Cassel or Matt Gutierrez to be pondering alternatives, though Tom Brady’s job is probably safe. Jennifer Toland has more on the selection of O’Connell, which raised a few eyebrows. Glen Farley has O’Connell looking forward to learning from Tom Brady. Dan Pires says that drafting O’Connell was a shocker.

Tomase also has a look at fifth round pick Matthew Slater – a special teams ace from UCLA, and son of Hall of Famer Jackie Slater. Farinella says that the Patriots are a prime destination that many college players hope to go to, including Slater and Crable. Lee says that the Patriots chose to focus on team needs in the later rounds rather than going for the best available players. Ron Chimelis wants to know why the Patriots didn’t’ draft a kicker, since Bill Belichick obviously has no faith in Stephen Gostkowski. Christopher Price says that this weekend’s draft is not a change from the Patriots usual team building approach. Pires also says that Junior Seau wants to come back, and that the Patriots are interested.

Allen Lessels has UNH quarterback Ricky Santos heading to Kansas City as an undrafted free agent. Jim Donaldson has East Providence’s Matt Sherry getting drafted by the Bengals.

The extensive Globe notebook has more on Slater, Crable and other draft notes. Guregian’s notebook looks at the Patriots finally having some young linebackers to work with. Young’s notebook says that O’Connell could push Matt Cassel out the door. Flynn’s notebook has the Patriots last two picks coming from NFL rootstock. Rich Garven’s notebook looks at the unique special teams talents of Slater. Pires’ notebook has the Patriots continuing their defensive push in day two.

Celtics

The Celtics suddenly find themselves in a series after a high spirited effort from the Hawks on Saturday night overwhelmed the Celtics and put Atlanta in a situation to even the best of seven series with a win tonight. (Butch, is that you?)

Marc J. Spears has the Celtics going through their longest film session of the season yesterday, going over Saturday night’s game in excruciating detail. Steve Bulpett has the Celtic realizing they need to regain their defensive mentality for tonight. Bill Doyle has the Celtics looking past comments from Joe Johnson, who says that they quit in the fourth quarter Saturday night. Tim Weisberg says that the Celtics need to regain their sharing mindset. Kevin McNamara has the Celtics taking a long look at themselves yesterday.

Bulpett also looks at Doc Rivers apparently changing up his substitution pattern on Saturday night, as Leon Powe is apparently out of the rotation for now. Over in the Metro, it’s noted that it is now Celtics time to get their turn in the media spotlight. Peter May has Al Horford and the Hawks finding their voice in game three, and using it at every opportunity. Mark Murphy says that the rookie big men on both sides of this series are already playoff tested.

Spears’ notebook has the Hawks continuing to brashly trash-talk the Celtics. Murphy’s notebook has the Celtics knowing exactly where they need to improve for tonight. McNamara’s notebook has the Hawks still patting themselves on the back for their performance on Saturday.

Red Sox

Don’t look now, but the Red Sox have lost five games in a row, and are coming off a weekend sweep at the hands of the Rays.

Gordon Edes has James Shields shutting out the Red Sox and ruining a terrific performance from Josh Beckett yesterday. Michael Silverman has Tampa rubbing it in to the Red Sox and Boston following the game. Joe McDonald has more on the suddenly punchless Sox dropping another in Tampa. Jeff Goldberg has the Sox looking like a tired team at the plate. Bill Ballou has the Sox as a dead team right now.

Amalie Benjamin notes that this has been a dizzying week in more ways than one for the Sox. Rob Bradford says that there are a number of things that the Sox need to start figuring out. Bradford looks at Manny Ramirez getting his first stolen base in three years yesterday.

Edes’ notebook has David Ortiz sitting out again yesterday, and likely looking forward to the end of April. Silverman’s notebook has the Sox getting their first off-day in 21 days today. McDonald’s notebook has Beckett fuming about the Sox having to play 20 days without an off day. Goldberg’s notebook has more on Manny’s steal. Ballou’s notebook has the Sox off-day coming at the right time.

David Scott looks at a tough Sunday for the Globe sports section.

  • Jingo Jackson

    I’m no Hector Longo fan, but I don’t think he said what you think he did. He praised Belichick for adapting, but didn’t make any comments about draft failures.

    I thought he praised both the past strategy which led to championships and the current adaptation.

  • HighWireNickEsasky

    Hector never met a comma he didn’t like and just plan can’t write. But I agree with Jingo that he didnt slam past drafts. He did say that Brady was the main reason the 2000 draft (and, of course, the dynastic run) was a success. We all know that all the media members were lavishing praise on the Brady pick 8 years ago. Hector’s still a putz.

  • Jingo Jackson

    I’ll not dispute the putz comment. The whole idea of advocating for Longo makes me uncomfortable. Damn you, Bruce.

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