Patriots Draft Preview (The “That Guy” Edition)

Before we begin our draft preview, a quick note on a tweet by Chad Finn about how Seattle giving New England five free yards at the end of the Super Bowl demonstrated their coach’s inability to prep them for the big moment.

Something about that comment stuck with me, and not just the fact that I agreed with it. Then it hit me: I’d heard Bill Belichick discuss this before. [Read more…]

Round-By-Round Review, Pats Draft 2015

As of right now, Coach Bill Belichick has nine picks in the 2015 draft, including a potential third-round compensatory pick from letting free agent Aquib Talib walk: First, Second, two Thirds, two Fourths, Sixth, and two Sevenths.

Last year’s draft had some ups and downs. Early yet to see what first-rounder Dominique Easley can add to the defense, or what second round pick Jimmy Garoppolo can bring at quarterback (either at Gillette or as trade bait – not sure even William Hill has odds on which it will be). That said, any 2014 pick still on the roster will be treated as a success until further notice.

First Round –

2000: None (pick went to NYJ for BB)

2001: Richard Seymour, DL, Georgia

2002: Dan Graham, TE, Colorado

2003: Ty Warren, DL, Texas A&M

2004: Vince Wilfork, DL, Miami; Benjamin Watson, TE, Georgia

2005: Logan Mankins, OL, Fresno State

2006: Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota

2007: Brandon Meriweather, DB, Miami

2008: Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee

2009: (No Pick – traded down)

2010: Devin McCourty, DB, Rutgers

2011: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

2012: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse; Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

2013: (No Pick – traded down)

2014: Dominique Easley, DL, Florida

Total Picks: 14

Successful Picks: 12 (sans Maroney, Meriweather)

Most Successful Pick: Seymour

Percentage: 86

Every Patriots First-Round pick has started for the Patriots; though neither Maroney nor Meriweather could be considered a true bust, each went by the wayside too quickly for us to deem a success. The noteworthy impact that Jones and Hightower have had in Foxboro has helped improve the defense to their championship level.

If you take out 2005-2007 (Mankins, Maroney, and Meriweather – again, all starters), every other pick has at least one Super Bowl win. New England’s top picks tend to a) stick around, and b) play.

Second Round –

2000: Adrian Klemm, OT, Hawaii

2001: Matt Light, OT, Purdue

2002: Deion Branch, WR, Louisville

2003: Eugene Wilson, DB, Illinois; Bethel Johnson, WR, Texas A&M

2004: Marquise Hill, DE, LSU

2005: (No pick)

2006: Chad Jackson, WR, Florida

2007: (No pick – traded for Wes Welker)

2008: Terrence Wheatley, DB, Colorado

2009: Patrick Chung, DB, Oregon; Ron Brace, DT, BC; Darius Butler, DB, UConn; Sebastian Vollmer, OT, Houston

2010: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona; Jermaine Cunningham, DE, Florida; Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida.

2011: Ras-I Dowling, DB, Virginia; Shane Vereen, RB, California

2012: Tavon Wilson, DB, Illinois

2013: Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss; Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall

2014: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois

Total Picks: 20

Successful Picks: 11 (Light, Branch, E. Wilson, Vollmer, Gronkowski, Spikes, Vereen, T. Wilson, Collins, Garoppolo, Chung*)

Most Successful Pick: Light

Percentage: 55

*Chung returns to the successful list after getting left off last year. Dobson stays off for now, but he could find himself back on the list if he contributes to the 2015 squad.

When you start out grading at a B-plus, it’s tough to get down to what your teacher would considered an F. But this is statistics class, and the professor grades on a curve. The Patriots tend to take some chances here (i.e., ignore common knowledge) in terms of rankings, resulting in lesser-known players sometimes failing to reach Round Two expectations (Tavon Wilson) or exceeding them (Vollmer). They look past college injuries, which got them Dowling and Wheatley, but it also got them Gronk. So maybe that ends that debate right there.

The best argument for bucking convention? On the one hand, you have Jamie Collins, a college defensive end from a winless Southern Miss squad; on the other hand, trading up to get the consensus best receiver of the 2006 draft resulted in Chad Jackson.

And the Pats don’t win this year without Collins, Vereen, and Gronk.

Third Round –

2000: J. R. Redmond, RB, Arizona State

2001: Brock Williams, DB, Notre Dame

2002: (No pick)

2003: (No pick)

2004: Guss Scott, DB, Florida

2005: Ellis Hobbs III, CB, Iowa State; Nick Kaczur, OL, Toledo

2006: David Thomas, TE, Texas

2007: (No pick)

2008: Shawn Crable, OLB, Michigan; Kevin O’Connell, QB, San Diego State

2009: Brandon Tate, WR, North Carolina; Tyrone McKenzie, LB, South Florida

2010: Taylor Price, WR, Ohio

2011: Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU; Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

2012: Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas

2013: Logan Ryan, DB, Rutgers; Duron Harmon, DB, Rutgers

2014: (No pick)

Total Picks: 16

Successful Picks: 6 (Hobbs, Kaczur, Ridley, Mallett, Ryan, Harmon)

Most Successful Pick: Ridley

Percentage: 38

Ryan and Harmon help keep this round respectable after some expectedly inconsistent picks. (We still think keeping Brandon Tate in favor of Chad Ochocinco in 2011 would have worked out better for the team.) Price didn’t work out, adding to the idea of playing Roulette Receiver in Foxboro: some guys get it, some don’t.

Quick Third Round snapshot? Defensive back and running back, sure. Wide receiver? If you’re feeling lucky, Bill Belichick.

Fourth Round –

2000: Greg Robinson-Randall, OT, Michigan State

2001: Kenyatta Jones, OT, South Florida; Jabari Holloway, TE, Notre Dame

2002: Rohan Davey, QB, LSU; Jarvis Green, DE, LSU

2003: Dan Klecko, DL, Temple; Asante Samuel, CB, Central Florida

2004: Dexter Reid, DB, North Carolina; Cedric Cobbs, RB, Arkansas

2005: James Sanders, DB, Fresno State

2006: Garrett Mills, FB, Tulsa; Stephen Gostkowski, K, Memphis

2007: Kareem Brown, DL, Miami

2008: Jonathan Wilhite, DB, Auburn

2009: Rich Ohrnberger, OL, Penn State

2010: The Tight End Who Shan’t Be Named, Florida

2011: (No Pick)

2012: (No Pick)

2013: Josh Boyce, WR, TCU

2014: Bryan Stork, OL, Florida State; James White, RB, Wisconsin; Cameron Fleming, OL, Stanford

Total Picks: 20

Successful Picks: 8 (Green, Samuel, Sanders, Gostkowski, Boyce, Stork, White, Fleming)

Most Successful Pick: Gostkowski

Percentage: 40

Gostkowski took Samuel’s place last year, but we’re going with Stork now. Worth an argument, but Stork’s ability to settle down the O-line on one of the Patriots’ most versatile squads puts him on top.

After trading away picks for two straight years, then Boyce, the Pats crushed it in 2014, bringing their Round Four percentage up from 29 percent to 40. We’re keeping Boyce on the list due to lesser expectations that those on Dobson (second-rounder); plus, Boyce’s athleticism could still get him a spot. Interesting to see what White can do next year.

Fifth Round – 

2000: Dave Stachelski, TE, Boise State; Jeff Marriott, DT, Missouri

2001: Hakim Akbar, DB, Washington

2002: (No pick)

2003: Dan Koppen, OL, Boston College

2004: P. K. Sam, WR, Florida State

2005: Ryan Claridge, OLB, UNLV

2006: Ryan O’Callaghan, OL, California

2007: Clint Oldenburg, OL, Colorado State

2008: Matthew Slater, WR, UCLA

2009: George Bussey, OL, Louisville

2010: Zoltan Mesko, P, Michigan

2011: Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU; Lee Smith, TE, Marshall

2012: (No pick)

2013: (No pick)

2014: (No pick)

Total Picks: 13

Successful Picks: 4 (Koppen, Slater, Mesko, Cannon)

Most Successful Pick: Koppen

Percentage: 31

As we say every year: We used to call Round Five “Koppen or Bust.” Now, with Slater and Mesko, we can name it “The Special Teams Round.” Cannon ended a rough streak of failed O-linemen. A middling success rate for a middling round; however, hard to overlook the impact of the solid selections.

Once again, the Patriots have no fifth-rounder this year (traded away for Jonathan “Confetti Man” Casillas). Considering how well they’ve done recently in other rounds, they may want to maintain their status and avoid the Fifth.

Sixth Round –

2000: Antwan Harris, CB, Virginia; Tom Brady, QB, Michigan; David Nugent, DT, Purdue.

2001: Arther Love, TE, South Carolina State; Leonard Myers, DB, Miami

2002: (No pick)

2003: Kliff Kingsbury, QB, Texas Tech

2004: (No pick)

2005: (No pick)

2006: Jeremy Mincey, OLB, Florida; Dan Stevenson, OL, Notre Dame; LeKevin Smith, DL, Nebraska

2007: Justin Rogers, OLB, SMU; Justise Hairston, RB, Central Connecticut; Corey Hilliard, OL, Oklahoma State

2008: Bo Ruud, OLB, Nebraska

2009: Jake Ingram, LS, Hawaii; Myron Pryor, DT, Kentucky

2010: Ted Larsen, C, NC State

2011: Markell Carter, DE, Central Arkansas

2012: Nate Ebner, DB, Ohio State

2013: (No Pick)

2014: John Halapio, OL, Florida; Zach Moore, DE, Concordia

Total Picks: 20

Successful Picks: 4 (Brady, Pryor, Ebner, Moore)

Most Successful Pick: One guess

Percentage: 20

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Brady Round. (Do you hear harps and angels? I think I hear harps and angels.)

Ebner continues to contribute on special teams, while Moore showed some promise as a pass-rusher. After several years of consistent meh, New England has hit on two out of three, with a pair of sixth-rounders this year. Can’t ask for much more from this late in the draft.

I mean, Tom Freaking Brady, for God’s sake.

Seventh Round – 

2000: Casey Tisdale, OLB, New Mexico; Patrick Pass, RB, Georgia

2001: Owen Pochman, K, BYU; T. J. Turner, LB, Michigan State

2002: Antwoine Womack, RB, Virginia; David Givens, WR, Notre Dame

2003: Spencer Nead, TE, BYU; Tully Banta-Cain, LB, California; Ethan Kelley, NT, Baylor

2004: Christian Morton, CB, Florida State

2005: Matt Cassel, QB, Southern California; Andy Stokes, TE, William Penn

2006: Willie Andrews, DB, Baylor

2007: Oscar Lua, LB, Southern California; Mike Elgin, OL, Iowa

2008: (No pick)

2009: Julian Edelman, WR, Kent State; Darryl Richardson, DT, Georgia Tech

2010: Thomas Welch, OT, Vanderbilt; Brandon Deaderick, DL, Alabama; Kade Weston, DL, Georgia; Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State

2011: Malcolm Williams, CB, TCU

2012: Alfonso Dennard, DB, Nebraska; Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern

2013: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois; Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers

2014: Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan

Total Picks: 27 (or almost two per year)

Successful Picks: 9 (Pass, Givens, Banta-Cain, Cassel, Edelman, Deaderick, Williams, Dennard, Buchanan)

Most Successful Pick: Edelman

Percentage: 33

I remember when New England drafted Julian Edelman. I had never heard of him. Ever since then, I scour NFLDraftScout.com for college QBs who could convert to wide receiver. Haven’t found one quite like him yet.

Hey now: 27 picks in 15 years? Why not? It’s a low-risk pick with potential, where some players who failed to rate as successes here still contributed in the short term (Beauharnais, Richardson, Andrews).

UDFAs

The Patriots seem to have a knack for finding roster-worthy prospects after the last name gets called on draft weekend. Some past undrafted free agents who contributed: Stephen Neal, OL; Tom Ashworth, OL; Eric Alexander, LB; Randall Gay, DB; Wesley Britt, OL; Antwain Spann, CB; Kyle Eckel, RB; Santonio Thomas, DL: Mike Wright, DL; Corey Mays, LB; Pierre Woods, OLB; BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB; Vince Redd, OLB, Tyson Devree, TE; Gary Guyton, LB; Brian Hoyer, QB; Ray Ventrone, DB.

Some UDFAs on the roster now: Ryan Allen, P, Louisiana Tech; Brandon Bolden, RB, Ole Miss; Josh Kline, OL, Kent State; Joe Vellano, DL, Maryland; some guy named Malcolm Butler, CB, West Alabama.

Our advice on watching the Patriot’s draft? Skip Round One the evening of April 30 (or tune in at the very end to potentially watch the Patriots trade down), check out the beginning of Day Two (Round Two), then wait until Saturday evening to see whom they select with their seventh-round pick. And by all means, keep track of undrafted free agents. There might be a Butler somewhere among them.

Chris Warner wastes time on Twitter @cwarn89

Super Bowl MVP Had Impact On The Field, Even When Off It

After multiple viewings of “Sound FX” and “NFL Replay” on the NFL Network, as well as “Turning Point” on NBC Sports, we’re putting a different focus on Seattle’s final offensive play.

As everyone reading this knows, the Seahawks passed the ball from the one-yard line with 26 seconds left and one timeout. Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler intercepted the pass, reversing the fortunes of two sports regions.

So, the question remains, why? Why, when you have Marshawn Lynch, the most brutish runner in the game, one yard away from glory, would you try anything else?

Tom Brady, that’s why. Brady did amazing things on the field, but he also did something remarkable off the field: he scared the bejeezus out of Seattle.

Take what Seahawks offensive coordinator Darell Bevell said to QB Russell Wilson before the penultimate play (on both “Turning Point” and “Sound FX”): “We still have a timeout. We’ll use every minute of this clock here.” Coach Pete Carroll, pacing the sideline, says, “Take your time. We have plenty of time to do this.”

You have to believe that – despite what Carroll would say later about matching up with New England’s goal-line defense – the coaches (along with everyone else) figured running Lynch would result in a touchdown. If Seattle had faced a fourth-and-goal at the one, then no question, Lynch would have gotten that football in his hands.

In the “Turing Point” broadcast, Carroll said during his post-game interview that maybe they should have run the ball, “But we had plenty of time to win the game, and we were playing for third and fourth down.”

We were playing for third and fourth down.

Now, back to the opposing QB: Brady had just accomplished what no other Super Bowl passer ever had: overcome a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. His offense had scored 14 points against the defense that had not allowed such a thing in years. No wonder Pats fans got depressed in the third quarter.

But Brady hit five of seven passes on one drive, then eight of eight on the next, leading his offense to two TDs in ten minutes.

Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column offered a thorough breakdown of those final two drives from interviews with Brady and OC Josh McDaniels, seen here.

Remember also: in the NFC Championship, Seattle had come back to take a 3-point lead with 1:25 showing on the clock, only to watch Aaron Rodgers complete two 15-yard passes and limp-scramble for 12 more, getting into field goal range with 19 seconds left. And, efficient as Rodgers was, he had two incompletions on that possession. Brady had two incompletions on two successive TD drives. (For a play-by-play rundown, see this link to NFL.com. Even more impressive to see it in writing.)

Carroll had that in mind when he didn’t call timeout. He had that in mind when the clock wound down. He definitely had it on the brain when he said he did not want to “waste a run play” at the one.

So, again, why not run the ball there? As Brady said in his post-game interview, “I’m glad they didn’t.”

Chris Warner tweets things at people on a regular basis. Follow him at @cwarn89