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So How’d They Do?

Talking about the New England Patriots’ performance in the NFL draft, that is.

Welp, since we’ve been considering that answer over the last week and a half or so, we have some sort of opinion, no?

But ummmmm…nope!  WHO THE HELL KNOWS??!

I know, we could pretty much make that assertion after ANY draft in ANY sports league.  I mean, how do we know how these guys will pan out several years down the road?

We don’t.

And guess what?

No one does.

Not even Mel Kiper Jr.  Or the guys on Boston sports radio this past week absolutely ripping Belichick for his selections.  I usually listen to a fair amount of sports radio, to be honest.  Shocker, I know!  But I couldn’t even listen this week.

Listen, I know with absolutely nothing else going on in the sports world, they have to talk about SOMETHING.  And what kind of entertainment would it be if they just agreed with everything the local teams did?

Wouldn’t be much of a show.  They know that.  And we SHOULD know that.

So let’s look at things a little more realistically.  Acknowledging that Bill’s recent draft history has left a lot to be desired as well.

But as we said previously, what teams’ draft history is perfect?  Or anywhere near that?

Again, absolutely nobody’s.

I still can’t fathom how Bill still gets ripped for his first rounders the last two years, running back Sony Michel, tackle Isaiah Wynn and wide receiver N’Keal Harry.

I know I wouldn’t have taken a RB or WR where they stood in those drafts, nor an OT that projected in the pros to be an offensive guard.  And that players taken after them in their respective years have outperformed them thus far.  But what the hell do I know?  More than people that scout these players?  Nope.  And neither do you.  And neither does Mel Kiper Jr., for that matter.

No one knows how the player will fit in the system of the particular team that drafts them.  Or in the locker room.  Or how sensitive they are.  Or how they will take to coaching.  Or good how that coaching actually is?  Or how they will react with a truckload of dollars being thrown at them for the first time.  Or their response to facing adversity on the field which they never had to in college or high school.  Or all that.

But the people who work for those professional teams should have a better idea than you or me.  Or Mel Kiper Jr.

They should anyway.  But that’s why some of them lose jobs, I guess.

In any event, I am not giving up on the aforementioned first rounders.  Wynn and Harry have largely been injured.  Harry could not gain Tom Brady’s trust, not the first receiver to have that happen to him.  Michel was pretty good as a rookie, once he got going.  He regressed as a sophomore.  His line sucked though.  And maybe not having a fullback really did affect him.  I don’t love the fullback excuse, but again, what the hell do I know?

Perhaps the fact that he can’t catch the ball and therefore when he was in the game, it screamed “run”.  But then again, maybe the rope wasn’t long enough after a few drops?  Keep throwing to him.  And maybe it works eventually?  I don’t know.  You would think the defense wouldn’t be so geared up to stopping the run when he is in the game at the very least…I would think anyway.

I will say that I don’t see any of that burst that he supposedly came with from college.  But perhaps without a knee surgery this offseason we will finally see that in his third year.  Or maybe his knees, which everyone knew would eventually become a problem as a professional, are actually shot.

I’m giving him a chance this year anyway.  I mean, Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead are still around, so there are other choices.  But one is unproven and the other gets hurt all the time.  Plus Michel doesn’t exactly make much dough.  So let’s see what happens.

Back to this years’ draft.

Yup, another shocker right off the bat.  After Bill traded out of the first round (not a shocker), he took a Division II safety at pick #37.  WHAT???!!  With one of the top safeties in college, at a top school (LSU), still on the board.

I initially thought this was crazy.  Not to mention that safety did not appear to be an immediate position of need.  I figured that this guy could return kicks and slot right into the departed Nate Ebner’s special teams spot.  And that is the best of what we were looking at.  Wouldn’t be Bill’s first second round defensive backfield bust, as we all know.

But then I started looking into this kid, Kyle Duggar.  He was slated to go in the second round of many mock drafts, so maybe it wasn’t a big a reach as I initially thought?  Yes, later in the second round in the mocks that I saw.  But one had him at #43, so that was a little promising anyway.

So now, it didn’t appear that this was a similar pick to Tavon Wilson, projected in the 7th, taken in the 2nd.  Or Duron Harmon, projected to be undrafted, taken in the 3rd, to name a couple.

And then, I realized that safety may be a bigger need than I thought.  Devin McCourty just re-signed for two years, but would it shock anyone if he is done after that?  Or even one year, with his brothers’ contract only having one year left?  Patrick Chung has been pretty good since he returned to the Patriots several years ago, but took a beating last season and may not be the same guy going forward.  Harmon is in Detroit.  Terrance Brooks and Adrian Phillips are best known for special teams.

If Duggar can adapt his game to this level over the next two years, adding to what he showed physically to get him to a second or third round grade, maybe he will be something?

Time will tell.

But what about other positions of need??  Or that LSU safety?

As for the LSU safety, maybe he looked good because his team was stacked?  Could be.

And the other “perceived” positions of need?  QB, TE, WR, OL, DT, LB?

Well, I thought they may take a QB.  But late.  Someone for the future, not someone to compete with Jarrett Stidham or, allegedly, Brian Hoyer.  I didn’t buy the talk that they were using a “premium pick” on a QB.  And that’s why they also let guys like Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton sign elsewhere.  I think they really believe in Stidham.  Yes, Cam Newton is still out there too.  But I just don’t see it.

Tight end.  They were not taking one that high.  Cole Kmet or no Cole Kmet.  He was supposedly the best of a weak tight end crop.  Doesn’t mean you have to take him.  Plus, they got two soon thereafter.  Maybe they aren’t that great either.  But maybe they will be similar enough to Kmet.

Receiver?  I honestly think they are happy with the guys they have now.  Hard to believe.  But I think, especially without Brady around, they expect Harry and Jakobi Meyers to establish a good rapport with Stidham and make a nice second year leap.  Or they are at least counting on it anyway.

O-Line.  The starters are back, including David Andrews.  So what you would be drafting here is for depth.  The Pats have a number of reserves coming back as well though, including two mid-round picks from 2019 that didn’t play a snap last year in Hjalte Froholdt and Yodny Cajuste.  And two guys they sent a draft pick for that barely played last season in Korey Cunningham and Jermaine Eluemunor.  So maybe they didn’t need to go too crazy here?  They did take a few late round guys that may be ticketed for the practice squad, so there’s that.

Defensive tackle.  Maybe they feel like another year in the system helps Byron Cowart, a fifth rounder from 2019.  And he seals up the 4th spot in the rotation.  Maybe one of the undrafted dudes makes it like Adam Butler did a while back.  Maybe they don’t care about stopping the run?  I’m not losing a whole lot of sleep about it though.  They move defensive ends, linebackers and even safeties around for run support.  So perhaps that is again the plan, despite it not working out all that great last season.

Linebackers.  The next two picks after Duggar were LBs…done.

So going through it objectively, does it seem like a bad draft at this very point in time?  No.  Not yet anyway.  If these players all suck, then it will be a bad draft.  But again, no one knows that now.

The Pats love versatility.  They got a whole ton of that in just about all of these guys.

And they got a kicker!  Who didn’t see that one coming?  The guy may have ummmm…made some questionable tattoo choices, but if he can kick I don’t think Bill cares.  If the tattoo is still there come the fall, methinks that will be addressed inside the locker room.  And that’s good enough for me.  For now, I will take the kid at his word though, that he was simply an idiot when he got it.  A stupid kid.  No crime in that.  That’s all too common nowadays actually.

In any event, supposedly this kid kicked plenty “in the elements”, which of course is important in Foxborough.  And probably a big reason that the bespectacled kid from Georgia wasn’t taken by them instead.  Though he wasn’t drafted by anyone so that probably says something as well.  If the kid doesn’t work out, then Nick Folk and yes, Stephen Gostkowski, will likely be available by the time they figure out if the kid sucks.

One thing I was surprised about was that Bill didn’t make any trades into the draft for next year.  He actually traded a sixth from 2021 as part of a trade in this years’ draft to move up.  But I guess that is neither here nor there.  He’s just going to move around a bunch in next years’ draft anyway.

So was this draft all this bad?  Again, we will see.  I expect the top 6 picks to provide some value to the team on the field in the upcoming season.  Perhaps their seventh pick (mammoth guard Michael Onwenu) makes the squad as well.  The last three guys are probably headed to the practice squad if they make it there.  That seems like a good percentage of picks sticking on the roster.  And then there is the undrafted player or two that always makes it.  Not bad on paper I would say.

We will just have to see how much value these guys actually add…long-term especially.  Come back in about three years and we can revisit…

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