A Belichick Draft We Would Hate

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

We figured we’d get this out of the way: the annual negative draft piece that spells out the mistakes of Patriots picks past.

Please remember these don’t work as predictions; rather, view them as what we’d consider unfortunate choices in Coach Bill Belichick’s draft history. We also include what might be heard in our household should any of the below actually unfold.

FIRST ROUND, Pick 28 – Traded for a 2013 First-rounder and 2012 Second-rounder.

Belichick acquires picks for the future like a squirrel stores nuts for the winter. The problem is, if the squirrel constantly traded for future nuts without ever using them, he’d eventually starve to death.

It’s all about value: if BB and Co. feel it isn’t there, they’ll bail for 2012 and look toward 2013. We don’t expect that to happen this year when plenty of valuable picks sit in the latter part of the first round.

Previous References: Many drafts past, including 2011 (second of two first-rounders traded).

If It Happens: Overheard In Our Household

Me: Sigh.

My Wife: What’s up?

Me: The Patriots traded their first pick.

My Wife: Again? It seems like they do that every year.

 

FIRST ROUND, Pick 31 – Georgia Tech Wide Receiver Stephen Hill 

Hill’s a wonderful physical specimen (6-4, 215 pounds, 4.36-second 40) who played in a run-first system at Tech. Problems with this pick include its overlooking the defensive necessities on New England’s roster and assuming Hill can learn the enigma known as the Patriots’ offense.

If they’re going to draft an athlete this early, it should be a pass rusher with the instincts and abilities to get to the QB from day one. As Chad Ochocinco has proven, even veterans can have a tough time contributing to the offense.

Could be a wonderful pick, but could prove disastrous. Why take that chance this early?

Previous References: Chad Jackson, 2006; Brandon Tate, 2009; Taylor Price, 2010.

Overheard In Our Household

Me: Ugh.

My Wife: Who’d they pick?

Me: A receiver.

My Wife: Well that’s good, right? I mean, they could use someone catching passes besides the tight ends and Welker.

Me: They need somebody who gets after the QB.

 

SECOND ROUND, Pick 48 – Miami Running Back Lamar Miller 

If Miller’s still available more than midway through the second, Belichick might have trouble letting him slip further. That would be a shame for many reasons, two of which reside on the roster (Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley).

This isn’t a slight on Miller’s myriad abilities (4.4-second 40 from a 5-11, 213-pound frame); it’s an examination of the defensive help New England needs to improve its roster. With many quality backs available in later rounds, selecting Miller (or any running back) at this point would discourage many Pats draft-watchers.

Previous References: Garrett Mills, 2006, a superfluous pick after the selection of David Thomas one round earlier.

Overheard In Our Household

Me: Good player, but come on.

My Wife: Why don’t they pick a defensive end?

Me: I don’t know. Do I look like I know? I don’t know, okay?

My Wife: Okay, okay. Relax.

Me: It’s hard to relax when they draft like this!

 

SECOND ROUND, Pick From Previous Trade – Traded for 2013 second-rounder and 2012 fifth-rounder

One issue we have with trading down is that the resulting picks can be considered “free picks.” It’s the type of situation where, if you win a dollar on a scratch-off ticket, you buy another scratch-off because you figure, hey, it’s free.

But it’s not free. You had to pay a dollar in the first place.

With the Patriots on the brink of very good things over the past few years, we hope they use their draft picks to acquire players who can contribute in 2012, not in 2013 or 2020 or whenever a virus makes us into zombies. (Seriously, “The Walking Dead.” Check it out.)

Overheard In Our Household

Me: Auuugh!

My Wife: That’s frustrating.

Me: Yeah! Yeah, it is! It’s super frustrating!

My Wife: It seems like they should just pick someone.

Me: Every year. Every year, I get sucked in. WHY?

 

SECOND ROUND, Pick 63 – Oklahoma State Quarterback Brandon Weedon 

Good player. Good value. But with Brian Hoyer as Number Two and Ryan Mallett as Future Project, Weedon’s the wrong guy for the Patriots.

The Pats didn’t need to draft a QB last year, but Mallett’s worth was such that they couldn’t resist. We have no problem with that in later rounds (Matt Cassel) or in rookie free agency (Hoyer). As a second-rounder? We have a problem with that.

Previous References: Kevin O’Connell, 2008; Mallett, 2011.

Overheard In Our Household

Me: For the love of GOD!

My Wife: Who’s that guy?

Me: He’s a QUARTERBACK!

My Wife: Since when do they need a quarterback?

Me: They DON’T! They DON’T need a quarterback! GAH!

 

THIRD ROUND, Pick 93 – Virginia Pass Rusher Cam Johnson 

There’s nothing wrong with this pick. Johnson has learned a defense under former UVa coach/Belichick buddy Al Groh. He has shown he can rush the QB and make solid contributions on defense.

On the other hand, he lacks the quickness and raw strength (16 bench press reps) of many earlier potential picks. Solid, but unspectacular, and disappointing in light of the picks available in the first and second rounds.

Previous References: Shawn Crable, 2008; Jermaine Cunningham, 2010.

Overheard In Our Household

Me: Now? Really?

My Wife: Well, they picked a pass rusher. Better late than never, I guess.

Me: “Better late than never.” Thanks. A lot.

My Wife: Maybe you should stop watching the draft. (Gets up to leave.)

Me: Maybe you should zip your face hole.

My Wife: What?

Me: What? Nothing. I was talking to Mel Kiper.

 

FOURTH ROUND, Pick 126 – Iowa State Defensive Back Leonard Johnson 

Again, value is key. Johnson had a lousy 40 time (4.7 seconds won’t cover a kitchen floor, much less a football field), but his college production and relatively quick feet will make him attractive in the middle rounds.

This feels like a stubborn pick, where the Patriots go with their collective gut despite negative opinions about a particular player. In this case, they might feel someone’s too valuable to pass up at this point in the draft.

That line of thinking carries risks (see below), but it can also bring rewards (see: 2010 picks Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski).

Previous References: Terence Wheatley, 2008; Darius Butler, 2009.

Overheard In Our Household

Me: Oh, a slow cornerback! Hooray!

My Wife: You’re being sarcastic, right?

Me: Oh, you figured that out? You cracked the code? CONGRATULATIONS!

My Wife: Seriously, it’s been three days of this. You need to stop watching.

 

FIFTH ROUND, From previous second-round trade – Columbia Offensive Tackle Jeff Adams

New England’s offensive line remains in flux; here, they try to plug in a player for depth when they should have addressed the position earlier. Adams looks like a solid athlete – the type of lineman who can stick around, get coached up, and fill in when necessary.

He does not, however, look like a starter.

Previous References: George Bussey, 2009; Rich Ohrnberger, 2009.

Overheard In Our Household

Me: Who?

My Wife: Who?

Me: Whatever. I give up.

My Wife: Good. But aren’t you supposed to write something about the draft?

Me: Oh, hell.

Let’s hope that, come draft time, none of the above gets overheard around New England.

 

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

  • bsmfan

    We could make a drinking game to a Belichick-run draft at this point!

  • alex

    “The problem is, if the squirrel constantly traded for future nuts without ever using them, he’d eventually starve to death.”

    The patriots philosophy of trading down to accumulate picks is 100% correct. Here is what they have ended up with just in the first 3 rounds for the past four years:

    2008: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd
    2009: 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd
    2010: 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd
    2011: 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd

    They draft an average of 3+ players in the first 2 rounds and 5+ players in the first 3 rounds. This is without a doubt the best way to approach the draft. We can however, argue about who they are taking with these picks because there have been some valid criticisms thrown their way over the last five years.

  • Gafraidh

    I am pretty tired of the “value” conversations, since I’m not sure it applies anymore. There is a salary structure in place that no longer makes early round picks cost-prohibitive. Yet for some reason, the media want to glom onto the notion that Bill will always look to trade down. I’m feeling optimistic that the old philosophy (which I believe had merit, btw – can you argue with 5 superbowls in 12 years?) will morph and that the “value” can now be found in rounds 1, 2, 3…

    • Tony

      I agree.

      I think we’ll see less trading down this year since the new CBA makes it less punative from a salary cap perspective to use first round selections–and to trade up for a higher first rounder as well.

      That said, I do think BB will make a deal that acquires at least an extra #2 pick in 2013, because that’s how he rolls, and it’s also smart to have extra bargaining chips in your arsenal.

      • Tony

        LOL….”punitive”, not “punative.” It’s too early in the morning for this…my bad.

  • Ben

    Trading away picks for picks in the coming years always means one thing to me — BB plans on sticking around a few more years. And that’s a good thing.

    • Bob Brown

      Trading away picks for future picks means one thing to me. The Tom Brady window is open – NOW! Do not let this opportunity go away without giving him the best supporting cast possible.

  • Jeremy

    I feel that too many people get caught up in wanting to be entertained by the draft itself. Only thing that should matter are sundays between September and (hopefully) february…

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