…In Bill We Trust? Here we go again…
Yeah, I know it has been a week since the New England Patriot’s draft has concluded. Has it taken me this long to process the results? Nope. It would appear I feel the same way as most of you. Has it taken me this long because I was waiting to see who the Pats would bring on as undrafted free agents? A little bit, but not really. I don’t believe they have still announced who they are. But I see some lists…we will get to them later.
Since I wrote some pre-draft stuff, I feel the need to comment on what actually transpired. Though I think we may all know how this will go. Since what transpired obviously did not match up with what I kind of hoped they would do.
None of us should be surprised at how many trades Bill Belichick made during the draft. This should be the least surprising occurrence of the three days. The conspiracy theory of Bill making a ton of trades involving the pick received in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, so that it would be hard to track what return they actually received? I can buy into that…a little bit anyway. I wouldn’t rule that scenario completely out. Was it the main focus? I don’t believe so. But don’t tell me Bill didn’t have something like that in mind.
The most surprising thing to me was that Bill did not auction off the #31 pick overall to the highest bidder. Teams are ALWAYS looking to move back into the first round and can offer enticing packages to get back into the end of it. Especially because the Pats already had used a pick at #23. Especially nowadays that the second round starts a day later, for whatever reason. Possibly because the teams get an extra year of team control for a first-round pick. In any event, Bill usually loves these sort of deals, where he could have picked up like 2 or 3 more picks for that one.
To top off my surprise, after not trading the pick, they selected a running back with it. Holy Jesus…a f’n RUNNING BACK!! This RB part has been talked about ad nauseam this week locally…as well it should be. Count me among the masses of the confused.
This offense does not need to spend major assets on the running back position. It just doesn’t. Think of all the guys they have picked up over the years for next to nothing. You know the names: LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, Antowain Smith, Sammy Morris, Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead for starters and also Steven Jackson and Fred Taylor…ok, forget the last two. Then using no more than mid-round picks on guys like James White, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley and the like. And let’s not forget the last time that the Pats used a first round pick on a runner…the immortal Laurence Maroney! How’d that work out?
Sigh…Sony Michel may be a good running back. You just didn’t need to use that pick on him. I did watch most of the NCAA football “Final Four” last year. And I will admit, Michel looked pretty damn good. But I honestly think that the team could have gotten away with the combination of White, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill this coming season. And perhaps another veteran plucked off the wire later in the year, or a kid from the practice squad.
I would have bet my house that Bill would have traded that pick down for more picks. I would have bet my neighborhood that he wouldn’t have selected a running back with that pick once he kept it. Glad I didn’t do either.
Can’t say I am enamored with the selection at #23 either. Isaiah Wynn may very well be a good player too. But although he played tackle in college and the Patriots announced him as such, most of the “experts” think he will be a guard in the pros. Not to mention they already have 35 offensive linemen on the roster. Including grabbing the humongous Trent Brown from the Niners seemingly on the cheap. What are they going to do with all of these guys? Yeah, half of them are fringe players. But looking at the list, they won’t be able to even keep all of the half-decent ones.
Then in the second round…a “slot corner” in Duke Dawson. Maybe he is a good player too. But…
I was clear that I wanted defense, defense, defense and more defense…just like everyone else. I would have accepted taking a quarterback high if the Patriots had truly identified “the future”. The Pats had 5 of the first 95 picks. Seemed like a good chance to get some good defensive talent in tow. Instead, they only took three guys…the offensive lineman that may not have a set position, the running back that seems extraneous and a backup corner.
Their next pick was in the fifth round, Ja’whaun Bentley. A linebacker!! But one whose speed may not match up in the pros. Oops. Don’t we already have Elandon Roberts? Seems like the same guy. Ummmmm…speed at linebacker is kind of one big thing the team needs. Like…a BIG thing.
Five more picks in the sixth and seventh round…not sure we even need to talk about them. Mel Kiper loves the 6th round receiver/punt returner…yay. Just cuz Julian Edelman worked out in the 7th round, doesn’t mean this guy will. LB, QB, TE, DB the other picks…yaaaaaawn.
You may ask, “Well, what do the undrafted free agent pickups look like? A handful always seem to make the team, right?” Again, no signings appear to have been announced. But I’ve seen one list of 10 dudes. We already know that I have no idea who these lower rated guys are. But my only real comment is that list includes not one, but TWO punters. And still no kickers. As a result, I can’t get all fired up about any of these guys.
So there you go. I’m in the same boat as the masses. Not excited at the draft haul. But yet again, we are all probably wrong. Everything always seems to work out, no matter how bad it looks. There will be more moves. There is no way the team can keep all of their guys at various positions. Maybe they can get draft picks for some of the guys they choose to move on from. Maybe there will be bigger deals on the horizon. Of course no one really ever knows what Bill is thinking.
We are in a period of tremendous future uncertainty here folks. We all know the end is near for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and it certainly seems like Rob Gronkowski. Robert Kraft will most certainly pass the team along to his son Jonathan soon. But dig a little deeper. Of the 84 roster players listed on Spotrac.com, only 13 of them are signed in 2020 and beyond. Take away the 9 draftees, that is 13 of 75 that are locked up long-term. Seems light. Sure, there could be extensions coming…especially perhaps for guys like Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton, who just had their fifth-year options from their rookie contracts declined, making them unrestricted free agents after this year.
There is no question that this team will be markedly different over the next couple of years. HOW different is what scares me…