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Old 04-29-2012, 08:55 AM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by Blackluck View Post
Matthew's final grade is higher than I would give lol.

I'm still really upset by the Wilson pick. That and the really poor return on the trade downs. There's a reason our pass defense is so bad, and taking players like Wilson in the position he was chosen is a large part of that. If he turns out to be a starting caliber safety I will gladly eat crow, but I find it hard to believe that he was the 48th best player coming out of college, or that they could not have found comparable value later on or even with a UDFA or a heck one of the veterans available. Maybe it's too early but it certainly feels like we burned yet another second round pick. I'm just so tired of all these failed defensive backs we have taken and our track record does not instill confidence that this pick will turn out any differently.

I understand complaining about it won't change anything, but it's the one thing I really wanted to see NE do differently this draft.
Yeah this is the main thing that is so hard to figure out. And not only that he's top 48, but you have to figure there were a number of players picked before him that BB would have rated lower on his board. How many? A dozen or so? So that would mean Wilson was actually in the top 35 to 40 players on BB's board.

At least he was able to get great value with Dennard in the 7th. So you just swap them with Dennard being the second round talent in the 7th versus Wilson the seventh round talent in the 2nd. Makes it a lot easier to swallow.
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:20 AM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by Blackluck View Post
Matthew's final grade is higher than I would give lol.

I'm still really upset by the Wilson pick. That and the really poor return on the trade downs. There's a reason our pass defense is so bad, and taking players like Wilson in the position he was chosen is a large part of that. If he turns out to be a starting caliber safety I will gladly eat crow, but I find it hard to believe that he was the 48th best player coming out of college, or that they could not have found comparable value later on or even with a UDFA or a heck one of the veterans available. Maybe it's too early but it certainly feels like we burned yet another second round pick. I'm just so tired of all these failed defensive backs we have taken and our track record does not instill confidence that this pick will turn out any differently.

I understand complaining about it won't change anything, but it's the one thing I really wanted to see NE do differently this draft.
Yeah, that about says it for me too with that pick. Especially the bolded part. In the second round, you're looking to hit on an above average player. From what I've seen and read about Wilson, I wouldn't give him a good chance to hit that milestone. It would be completely different if we were hitting on these off the wall picks(and furthermore, defensive back picks in general), but we aren't. The days of assuming it'll work out because Bill saw something we didn't are long gone...with the draft at least.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:56 PM    (permalink
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Here are my draft grades:

Chandler Jones (A)- We've needed this pick for the longest time. You can tell from watching him that he gets a natural push with those long arms, and I can see him disrupting passing lanes, which we haven't had since Seymour. He's really raw, and I don't see him being a pass rush presence right away like Aldon Smith or CMIII, but hopefully after a year or 2 of tutelage behind BB and Andre Carter he can get enough of a repertoire to be our pass rush terror.

Dont'a Hightower (B-)- I love what he brings to 1st and 2nd down, but I don't see him as having as large of a role in today's NFL as he would have 20 years ago. He's not good in pass coverage, and I don't think he is an explosive enough pass rusher to keep in on 3rd down. I think he's a great 2 down linebacker, but I don't think that he brings anything that new to this defense, and I think we could have done better with this pick.

Tavon Wilson (D-)- It's tough to give this pick a flat F because I don't know enough about Wilson as of right now, but from what I have seen he looks nothing like a 2nd rounder. He did look good in one of the highlight tapes I saw, but brutal in the other. He showed a good knack for blitzing, and tackles decently enough in space. However, he doesn't look particularly sudden, and like most of our defensive backs it looks like he has a hard time tracking the ball in the air.

Jake Bequette (B+)- Bequette has a lot of problems in his game, but the consistent hustle and decent athletic ability are encouraging for a position that has certainly been lacking in recent years. With Chandler Jones, Wilfork, and Love all collapsing the pocket, somebody who can stick with it and hopefully get some coverage sacks would be a welcome addition to this offense. Mark Anderson had a pretty decent season last year doing exactly that. I don't see Bequette as ever being a 3 down player, but in a role similar to Anderson or TBC I could see decent success from him.

Nate Ebner (A-)- I don't know why I like this pick so much. Just seeing those pro day numbers and reading about the mentality this guy has just makes me think he has a real shot to make this team. If he can take Tracy White's spot on this team as dedicated bigger special teams guy I would be happy. Just watching his rugby highlights makes him look explosive, and on special teams desire, explosion, and willingness to hit somebody is what really matters, and he certainly has all those features.

Alfonzo Dennard (A)- Great value here. Dennard isn't a great fit for what we do, but his press skills and willingness to hit are definitely things that we could use on this team. I think he might be able to beat out Allen, Moore, or Brown for the final roster spot in the secondary. It wouldn't surprise me one bit to see him emerge as a starter down the road.

Jeremy Ebert (B-)- It's tough to make a roster this late, and I think Ebert has a huge uphill climb in front of him. Welker, Edelman, and Gonzales are all currently in front of him to make the team. Gonzales might get released very early, but beating out Edelman for a roster spot isn't going to be easy. I like his moves, and he seems to be consistent enough, but I don't think he has the same kind of agility as Edelman, and he certainly doesn't offer the overall versatility that Edelman does.


Overall if people had told me before the draft that we'd add 3 pass rushers and 3 safety prospects I'd have been incredibly stoked. I'm not crazy about all the players, but I think they have a pretty good shot at getting 4 contributors out of this class which in my mind is what you need year in and year out to remain consistent. I'd give this class an overall B grade.
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Old 04-29-2012, 01:10 PM    (permalink
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Someone wants some "alone" time with Chandler Jones...



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Old 04-29-2012, 02:00 PM    (permalink
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Love the Dennard and Bequette picks. Bequette is a guy who I've liked for a while glad to see we got him
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:12 PM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by nepg View Post
Bequette doesn't really need to develop more pass rushing moves as much as he just needs to get in there and learn the 5-tech. He's an interesting prospect as a developmental 5-tech. Which is why they drafted him.
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Bequette is a 260 lb 5 tech. He is washed out of the play too much for my liking.

His pass rush (like Bruce Irvin lol) is his best weapon but he's not that good at it. He struggled against some really ****** tackles.
Just saying.

Personally, I see a guy who could be made into a 5tech. I don't think he has the talent to be a 7/9 tech. His tape of him trying to rush the passer is uninspiring at best.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:23 PM    (permalink
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Bequette isn't a 5-tech, he's a 4-3 DE. He'll probably start as a nickle rusher... No way in hell he's playing 5-tech with 31 inch arms.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:28 PM    (permalink
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Overall if people had told me before the draft that we'd add 3 pass rushers and 3 safety prospects I'd have been incredibly stoked. I'm not crazy about all the players, but I think they have a pretty good shot at getting 4 contributors out of this class which in my mind is what you need year in and year out to remain consistent. I'd give this class an overall B grade.
I think this is the first time we've agreed on anything lately lol. However, I couldn't agree with you more about what you said and couldn't have put it better. As much as we all like to criticize BB I think that, absent the Wilson pick, he got pretty good value in positions of need. I definitely feel like we're a better team even though I would've like to add some size in the perimeter with a player like Tommy Streeter.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:08 PM    (permalink
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I would've like to add some size in the perimeter with a player like Tommy Streeter.
If I remember correctly, he got picked the selection right after Ebner too.
I was screaming, crossing my fingers and wishing for Streeter and then we took a Rugby player.
Time will tell if Streeter turns into anything. Ebner, I'm sure will turn into a ST stud though.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:11 PM    (permalink
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If I remember correctly, he got picked the selection right after Ebner too.
I was screaming, crossing my fingers and wishing for Streeter and then we took a Rugby player.
Time will tell if Streeter turns into anything. Ebner, I'm sure will turn into a ST stud though.
You remember correctly. I was sooo disappointed. Then again, BB tends to shy away from bigger receivers and add smaller, quicker receivers. I don't agree, but that's how the system works.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:25 PM    (permalink
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Which is crazy because the few bigger-ish receivers the Pats have had have done fairly well.
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:22 PM    (permalink
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Streeter's personality doesn't fit the profile of what succeeds in a BB system though. He is a redshirt sophomore who couldn't even hustle through his combine drills. I think that played a huge role in dropping him to where he ended up. If he was picked here he'd be benched and released unceremoniously like Taylor Price was.
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:23 PM    (permalink
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"It's going just the way I told you it was going to go
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Yeah, I know. You did. You told me.
That's pretty cool.
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:48 AM    (permalink
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Here's my analysis of the draft

Chandler Jones (A) - I love this pick. I would like to qualify this by saying if he is used properly. Jones isn't a guy who bends off the edge and I don't want to see him going backwards too often, however he has the best hand usage in the draft IMO. In a draft with few impact defensive players the Pats got a really good one here.

Dont'a Hightower (B+) - Another pick I really like. Hightower brings much needed versatility to the LB corps. He can play inside and out. He is good in short zones and rushing the passer. Make no mistake, this guy isn't going to be asked to play MLB and drop into the deep middle. If they want someone to do that it will be Mayo. Hightower could be an impact player as early as this year.

Tavon Wilson (F) - I still can not justify this selection. He is a poor man's James Ihedigbo and for anyone who has watched Ihedigbo play that is not a good thing. Has some tools to work with but just is not a great player. I don't like talking in terms of reaches because you really never know what other teams will do, but this guy is just not a player who you expect to make any sort of impact outside of special teams and you don't draft special teamers in the second round.

Jake Bequette (A-) - This was a tremendous pick. Bequette isn't flashy and won't be a double digit sack guy, but he is a relentless pass rusher who can play down end or stand up 'backer. Definite upgrade over every pass rusher on the roster not named Jones.

Nate Ebner (B) - A guy with one of the highest ceilings left at that point. Intriguing physical tools and only scratching the surface on his potential. Should at least be a stand out on special teams.

Alfonzo Dennard (A+) - The Pats didn't outsmart themselves with this pick. Dennard was quite comfortably the best available player. Character concerns are real and he will need to keep his emotions in check. However he is a physical guy who can play press coverage or even move to safety. Very little to dislike with this selection.

Jeremy Ebert (B) - Nice player. Has been compared to Welker but I believe he is more similar to Edelman. I'm not sure he makes the roster but could be stashed on the practice squad. With a 7th rounder you don't always expect them to make the roster, especially as a rookie, let alone when you look at the competition for WR spots.

Overall (B) - I think the draft grades out as a solid B. They added a few impact players in Jones and Hightower, and Bequette will contribute. Overall the front 7 is a lot deeper and has some real quality to go along with Wilfork and Mayo. They should have real expectations out of Dennard to contribute as well. Ebner has great special teams potential and upside and Ebert could be a nice surprise. Wilson brings the mark down along with losing value on trade downs. Trade ups in the first where pretty good though.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:39 AM    (permalink
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I'm really looking forward to what they do with Ebner. They took a bunch of guys that they'll have to mold to fill a position in the NFL, but the guys they got are really fun to theorize about.
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:37 PM    (permalink
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Now that the draft is over we can start to predict some training camp battles. Here are some of the more interesting ones I see happening at camp, even though it's 3 months away :(

QB2: Hoyer vs. Mallett- Certainly one to watch, talent vs. experience. It would be really encouraging for Mallett to have made enough strides in the past season and to win this job outright. His development is one of the most exciting things for me to watch in training camp.

RB1: Ridley vs. Vereen vs. Future veteran signing- I see us signing Addai, Brown, Hightower, or Grant before the season starts. I like Ridley's power, and I think he'd make a better runner on early downs, and platoon him with Vereen for later downs. Regardless we haven't gone into a season with a stable of backs this inexperienced in a long time.

Backup Slot WR: Edelman vs. Gonzales vs. Ebert- I fully expect Edelman to win this battle because I think he's the most talented and versatile guy of the bunch. Gonzales is probably the best overall receiver, but his health is a huge question mark. I like Ebert, but I don't think he has a strong shot at making the roster.

Defensive End/OLB Rotation: Cunningham vs. Jones vs. Bequette vs. Hightower vs. Ninkovich vs. Carter?- There is as much fluidity and opportunity here as anywhere else. I'd give the early edge to Carter and Ninkovich with some Chandler Jones sprinkled in. I think Bequette will fight with Cunningham for the right to go in as a pass rusher in nickel. Hightower will be used more as a traditional linebacker IMO. He might line up at OLB, but won't rush all that often, same with Ninkovich.

Thumper ILB: Spikes vs. Hightower- The two likely will play on the field at the same time in certain situations, but I think they'll more often than not be competing for playing time. Personally I liked Spikes better as a prospect, and as a player I've liked the mentality he has brought when he's been healthy/ not in trouble. I think Spikes wins out, at least for the beginning of the season. Hightower will steal some snaps from both Spikes and Ninkovich though.

Dime Cornerback: Allen vs. Dennard vs. Moore- I think this is a decent group to have for a dime CB spot. Moore really came on at the end of the season, and Allen is an established player in this league. Dennard is the wildcard, if he can come in and prove that he can keep up with and recover with receivers in this league, I think he'll end up winning this spot.

ST Safety: Brown vs. Ebner- I love Ebner, I just watched highlights of him on special teams at Ohio State, and I love the mentality he has. He was always jumping into the wedge and the first one down on kickoff coverage. He's a more talented athlete and has a higher upside. I see him beating out Sergio Brown for this spot.

Backup Safety- Wilson vs. Barrett- The team loves Barrett and apparently they're fond for Wilson after drafting him in the 2nd round. I think this is a disaster waiting to happen, but I just hope that one of them is able to emerge. Barrett has outstanding tools, but has never lived up to his measureables. Wilson looks bad, but he might be a better safety in the NFL than he was a CB in college.
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Old 04-30-2012, 03:03 PM    (permalink
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Nice write up. I'll add that I think Dennard will be battling for S spot as well.
I see him as a FS long term. That'll get him on the field faster too.
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Old 04-30-2012, 03:05 PM    (permalink
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Very good write-up. I'll definitely follow the Markell Carter situation very closely. I think he can be deadly in nickel situations. I've already turned my attention to the 2013 draft. I don't think we'll be able to get Lotulelei or Woods or Allen whom I really like for us. Instead I like these players:

1. Barret Jones, OC/OG
2. Da'Rick Rogers, WR
3. Robert Lester, FS
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Old 04-30-2012, 04:54 PM    (permalink
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I thought these comments were pretty interesting:

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On Tavon Wilson. ”He was a pretty good leader for the team when they had injury problems. He moved to safety seemlessly. I think he’s going to be good for the secondary out there, I really do. I think he has a lot of potential. His best football is ahead of him. I always thought his best work would be at corner, but then when I saw him at safety, he takes really good angles. He breaks up a lot of passes, I’d just like to see him finish on the ball a little better. The one thing I really like about him, he’s got really good movement skills. He bends well, he can play a lot of different positions. He’s a very mature kid who could start year one.”

On Jake Bequette: ”Watching him move around at the Senior Bowl as an outside backer, he looked better than (Shea) McClellin who went in the first round . . . I think he has a chance to be a really good football player. I like his energy, I like his motor, he has a very high football I.Q. He’s played in multiple football schemes in Arkansas. He’s a very underrated athlete.”
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Old 04-30-2012, 06:02 PM    (permalink
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Alright, I think I've finally caught up enough on games to feel like I can make some more definitive evaluations on the class as a whole.

1st round, 21st overall, Chandler Jones (acquired via Cincinnati for the 27th overall and 93rd overall pick)

At first, I wasn't really seeing the appeal with Jones. I'm not sure he's big or strong enough to consistently overpower tackles in the NFL...and I don't think he's fast enough to turn the corner on them either. In spite of that, it's hard not see that there's still significant upside there. He'll be able to disrupt passing lanes almost instantly with his long arms, but he's still learning to use them as a pass rusher. He's already more effective in that area than the statistics say, showing good push and a nice motor, but he projects to get even better. He's getting by without a wide variety of moves to disengage right now. I still question where he's going to be in three years. There's some projection there with regards to where he could end up weight wise. He has the frame to end up being 280 pounds(perhaps a little more), but we may want him to try to keep that down a bit in order to stand up and play some outside linebacker in 3-4 looks. His best fit would likely come as a true 4-3, every down base end...but that's likely not going to be what we ask him to do all the time here. He's still very much a developing player and I would have liked to see him prove more at the college level, but the potential is there to be a real good player with good coaching.

Grade: A

I would be lying if I told you that enthusiasm for finally taking a player who can help out along the line/as a pass rusher didn't enter into this, but I don't see a compelling reason as to why it shouldn't either...and Jones has the potential to be quite the player. What we gave up to move doesn't really concern me all that much either considering our need for what Jones brings to the table.

1st round, 25th overall, Dont'a Hightower (acquired via Denver for the 31st overall and 126th overall pick)

I've never been a big fan of Hightower. I always thought that he got a little bit more hype than he deserved, even before the knee injury. He definitely saved his best play for last, having a much better season as a Junior than he did in any season prior, making quite a few more impact. Part of that has to do with putting the injury in the past, part of that has to do with the way Bama used him. He has the chance, and already is really, a very good player. Very capable and willing to attack the line of scrimmage, stack and shed blockers, and stuff the run with violence. Combining that with his long arms, he may offer something as a pass rusher as well, although I don't see the burst to finish and close. Beyond that, a lot of it breaks down for me. I simply don't see Hightower as a competent pass defender. He's not naturally comfortable in space and doesn't display the range or quickness to be an effective "3rd down" linebacker. Let's face the facts too; in today's NFL, there's less and less room for the big, physical run stuffer. Teams are throwing the ball more over the middle and having more of more success. They aren't waiting until 3rd down to do it, either. It's debatable as to if you can afford a single liability in coverage anymore, let alone the two we could be lining up next to each other. His ability to provide something as an edge rusher and as a blitzer helps mitigate that a little bit, but not completely.


Grade: C+

I really didn't see the need to touch the linebacker core. There's some players that we could stand the upgrade, but the overall level of play was completely competent.... especially in the areas that Hightower excels at. There's little doubt that Hightower will add something to the team against the rush, but he may make us an even weaker team against the pass when mixed in with the personnel we already have. With all of that in mind, this feels like a luxury pick for a defense that is deeply flawed.

2nd round, 48th overall, Tavon Wilson

It's hard not to start off on this pick without the perspective that it was instantly being discussed as one of the bigger reaches in the draft immediately after the pick was made. Wilson was not on the draftnik radar...or on the list of many NFL teams as a high pick judging by his non-existent post-season presence on the circuit. So, if you'll forgive a complete and total digression for a bit, let's talk about a quote out of Dear Leader on Tavon Wilson that I feel like isn't getting enough play;

Quote:
"Some guys play in all-star games, some guys don't. I don't know who picks all those all-star teams. In all honesty, I don't know who picks the combine, for that matter," Belichick said.
I do! I think most of us who follow the process year in and year out do, even.


It's common knowledge that the Senior Bowl operates invitations are decided by an independent committee, led by Steve Hale(up until this year anyway, he stepped down. Angus Cooper now fills that role), and are reserved for top level players, but by all accounts it's also a process that scouts employed by NFL teams have a ton of input on. Everything I've read about the Shrine Game suggest that a similar process in in place, albeit a broader one, with a much longer list of players that earn consideration. There's less information available about that process though, likely due to the notability of the Shrine Game vs. that of the Senior Bowl, but still.

As far as the scouting combine goes, Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post wrote an article on the process of combine invitations before draft season began, if Belichick is looking for something to read that explains how combine invitations are determined, a process that the Patriots opt out of by not being a member of BLESTO or the National Football Scouting organization. They're one of just three other teams that have chosen to be unaffiliated with either organization, joining Batlimore, Indianapolis, and Oakland. The Redskins were in that group as well until they hired Mike Shanahan. Here's an article on how changing the way the Redskins scouting and becoming a member of BLESTO was a priority for the new regime in Washington.

Redskins director of player personnel Scott Campbell had this to say about the benefits of the service.
Quote:
"It gets you on a level playing field with everybody else, getting the same information,"
So coincidentally, the teams that have opted to scout completely independently have a mixed track record of drafting. The Redskins faced similar criticism to Oakland about their scouting department, with writers and fans often joking about it's nonexistence. That's been highlighted as one of the key things that's supposed to change in that organization with the passing of Al Davis, something that those who follow the team feel can pay huge dividends. Until Polian's firing, Indianapolis was in a similar position to to the one we are in terms of what they've done in the draft over the course of the past few years and how good their teams have been. In spite of an increasingly spotty track record with draft picks, they competed for the conference title year in and year out....but failed to fill key holes with young players. Ultimately, that led to this years rude awakening and decision to rebuild from the ground floor. Baltimore is the one independent team that has drafted exceptionally well.

We've been relatively successful at hitting on our first round picks(I promise this will get to Tavon Wilson eventually, bear, with me.), finding a players that can at the very least contribute at a high level. I think we could improve in that area, but the run of success we've had the past 11 year means that we're drafting late in the round nearly every year. With that in mind, it's tough to be overly critical. Where we've truly struggled is finding contributors after that, with a rather long list of guys who have failed to meet expectations/make a meaningful impact for the team after the first round(there's evidence to that changing recently though), particularly at defensive back. First round caliber players tend to be easier to find information about and draw conclusions about. That's just a basic part of the draft. I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to question if operating without the same information that other teams have has perhaps hurt us in terms of player evaluation. Scouting the entire draft is tough. I know that I personally rely on the opinions of others quite a bit. There's upwards of 12,000 of division one college football players, a good portion of whom are upper classmen. That's just D1. We see more and more prospects coming from smaller schools every year. It's simply impossible to have information on all those players as a single organization. That's not to say that we should join a scouting organization and take their word as the gospel truth. Every year, the BLESTO list leaks and we hear about how so and so only had a third round grade(notably, Jake Locker a few years ago) and went in the first...so I doubt ANY team does. It's hard not think that the relative isolation might be adversely affecting our ability to identify players who aren't first round caliber talents.

OK. So perhaps that was misguided to put that all there. I just thought the quote from Belichick was interesting and that this was a great talking point to enter that conversation, which I think is entirely worth having at this point. I doubt Belichick really isn't privy to the way those things work...which makes the answer he gave even more interesting. If he really wasn't, I would likely advocate firing him on the spot. If you have that much influence over a teams draft and don't understand(or appear to want to make an effort to) how a key function of the process works, that's absolutely inexcusable. But that was a cute answer for the local media, who has largely bought into the renegade genius mystique Belichick has tried to create for himself.

So on to Tavon Wilson. I think from what I wrote already, it's easy to conclude that I(along with most everyone else, haha) thought that the pick was a reach. This is clearly a case of the Patriots being much higher on a guy than the rest of the pack is. I'm finding fewer and fewer reasons to justify our being out of the edge with these kinds of guys. Wilson is no exception. His athletic measurables are average, running a respectable 4.52 40 and measuring out right in the sweet spot for an NFL safety in terms of height and weight. However, every other measurable outside of those two are merely decent to middle of the pack when stacked up against other members of the class. From the limited amount of film I've seen on him(up to four games now), I don't see a guy worth pulling the trigger on in the area that we did. He has technical deficiencies as a tackler, often leading with his shoulder instead of trying to wrap up. That can lead to some bigger hits, but it's not altogether uncommon for him to whiff. He's willing to come up and help in the run game and he has the body to do it, but he'll absolutely have to cut down on some of those issues tackling if he wants to be an NFL caliber run defender. In coverage, he appears to be stiff in the hips and easy to turn around. He does a good job reading and diagnosing what's happening on the play, but it doesn't look like he has the speed/range to get there in time to disrupt passing plays that aren't thrown directly in the area he's occupying. Even more concerning, he doesn't have very good ball skills. When he gets there, he tends to play the receiver over the ball. He brings some value to the table in terms of special teams, but with the selection of Ebner and the current personnel we have, it's questionable as to if he'll be able to fight for chunks of time there/upgrade what we have instead of merely replacing them.

Grade: F

Harsh, but until Belichick proves that he can see things other around the league and scouting services can again, I'm taking the field. I hope he turns out to play above the level expected of him, but I can't see him turning into an NFL caliber starter. You can't justify drafting this type of player in the second round, even without the type of track record we have for drafting defensive backs. He has a ton of experience against top competition...which makes it even more conspicuous that he was never able to make a name for himself as commodity.

Alright, the next one won't be as long. Promise. It's worth noting that the trade with Green Bay for 62 really wasn't good in terms of value. There were players on the board there that could have really helped us.


3rd round, 90th overall(via Green Bay), Jake Bequette

Two pass rushers in the same draft? What's the world coming to? Bequette has the body type we prioritize(questionably, might I add) for a pass rusher to go along with above average athleticism. He actually tested poorly compared to how I thought he was going to, but in games he appears to have decent closing speed after he disengages. I really like that when you factor in the fact he's a high motor, high energy player. That's the type of guy I look for as far as someone I want to put outside of the tackle from a two point stance. On occasion, he'll simply out hustle tackles who aren't ready for him. He compliments that by being competent at setting the edge and defending the run.That said, there are some legitimate issues with his game that makes him a bit of a reach at this spot. Nowhere near the type of reach Wilson was, but he was probably more of a 5th round type value. His pass rush repertoire is lacking and he relies almost exclusively on effort and intensity to get by tackles. As a three point rusher, that often comes later in the play when the outcome has likely been determined by the coverage unit. Against stronger tackles, he has a tendency to get pushed around and often ends up on the ground or blocked out the play. I think that's just always going to be a limitation with him and because of that I wouldn't bet on him blossoming into a starting caliber player on a good defensive line. There's some likable traits and skills there for sure though. He has a chance to be a good rotational player.

Grade: B

Not an immense value or a guy who is going to come in and contribute right away, but Bequette is a solid player who should give some push and energy on third downs. Ultimately, his value and playing time will be dictated on how well he adapts to being a stand up player. There's really not a whole lot to go on there. The Senior Bowl was his first real crack at it. He adapted fairly well by most accounts, particularly as the week went on.


6th round, 197th overall(via Green Bay), Nate Ebner

I don't know a whole hell of a lot about Ebner, but his workout numbers and background are intriguing. I've already mentioned it, but I get a real kick out of the fact that we picked someone who played in the the only rugby game I've ever watched. He certainly seems to have the mentality and toughness to cut it as a dedicated special teams player in the NFL. However, I question if he brings something to the roster that we don't already have. We place a huge emphasis on special teams play and it shows in the way the unit plays. According to Football Outsiders, we finished as fifth in the league as an overall special teams unit, in spite of poor kick and punt returns factoring into their formula. If we were to take a special teamer, I would have preferred we take someone who can help us on returns. Towards the end of the year when the defenses we played got better and better, we saw the consequences of facing a long field on every drive. That's no fault of Ebner's and he probably has more upside than some of the guys we're carrying on the roster right now...but with all that mind, this feels as close to a luxury pick as you can get in the 6th round. We likely could have signed him as an UDFA too, but stuff like that matters less at this point.

Grade: C

Intriguing player, questionable value to the team considering how many special teams guys we already carry. Still, he'll be an interesting story to follow and certainly someone I'll be rooting for.

7th round, pick 224(via Green Bay), Alfonzo Dennard

He punched a cop a week before the draft. He got dusted by Alshon Jeffrey and punched him too out of frustration. He clearly has some issues with judgment and anger management. In spite of that, there's not a single pick that we made that excites me more than this one. Dennad has a chance to be a tremendous value where we picked him because of what he's able to do when you actually get on the football field. A tough, physical corner with the ability to win the battle at the line of scrimmage consistently against much bigger players. Good instincts and head for the game too from what I've seen of him/what most others say. He has the ability to play man(although he can be exposed deep by faster, bigger receivers in man) and zone, but his priority's are clearly to hit you at the line and wear on you. It agitates receivers. It's questionable as to if he'll get away with some of what he does to receivers physically in the NFL, but that's not all there is to his game either. On top of his overall cover skills, he's a pretty decent athlete too. I've seen his lack of deep speed exposed more than once, but he shows a good initial burst and can close on the ball when it's in the air. He'll probably never be a big time interception guy, but his ability to disrupt routes makes up for that a bit.

The really interesting thing is if we'll move him to safety....which seems weird to even talk about for a few reasons. He completely shut down his side of the field at times in a big time passing conference a few years ago. He also wouldn't be able to jam a whole heck of a lot from that spot, which is clearly his best skill. In spite of that, I can buy it. Down the field, he's at his best when he has the play in front of him and he's able to react. He's also more than willing to deliver a hit and come up in the run game, although he needs some refinement in this area. The one thing I really question is if he'll have the ball skills to cut it. I'm concerned that he'll end up interfering with the play a little bit too often, but I think that concern is somewhat overplayed with him. When he's going right, he's able to play the receiver clean.

Grade: A+

A fantastic value pick with a very high risk/reward ratio. Dennard clearly needs to get some things under control, but there's just too much good tape of the guy to ignore. He was probably dropping a little bit before the incident with the police officer anyway after the rough week in Mobile and some question as to how he'll translate to the NFL(Nebraska seems to have protected him a bit with scheme), but he he has the cover skills to be an above average player at CB or S if he can keep his emotions under control, both on and off the football field.


7th round, 234th overall pick(via Green Bay), Jeremy Ebert

Ebert wasn't the type of receiver I was hoping we would take, but he has an intriguing set of tools nonetheless. Very good times in the 40 and 3 cone drills to complement a whole ton of production. He wasn't really on the radar as far as receivers go, but there's some things he does really well from what I've seen. Appears to have real good hands to compliment the strong athletic numbers. Despite the strong 40 time, he's likely limited to the slot because it really doesn't show up of tape. He's likely a long shot to make the team because of the competition he'll have for the niche he fills, but he's an interesting developmental guy we should be able to get away with stashing on the practice squad who does things we like well.

Grade: B

I wish we had been able to select a bigger, more vertical receiver earlier in the draft, but Ebert isn't a bad player. Edelman is really going to have a make or break year this season as a position player and Ebert is one of the guys who could potentially push him out the door if he can't cut it as an NFL caliber pass catcher. He certainly didn't have much of a problem beating alleged second round pick Tavon Wilson;




Overall Grade: B-

Overall, we had a real strong draft. We certainly did some things that confused the hell out of me and the Tavon Wilson pick really went to show that our evaluation can be completely different from the rest of the leagues. Even though the jury is still out on Wilson, it leaves me wondering if the way we do things is necessarily the right way to go about it. In spite of that, we did some real nice things. I'm not as hot on Chandler Jones as some are, but if he pans out the way some people think he will he could be part of the answer to digging this defense out of the hole it's been in for years. Hightower fills a similar niche and role to Brandon Spikes, but I think that he could well upgrade him....as well as allow us to part ways with him if it comes to that. Dennard could be the steal of the draft if he can keep his head on straight, either at corner or at safety. Those three are probably the players that will have the highest impact, both right away and long term if Jones and Dennard pan out. I really like the fact we spent five out of the seven picks we ended up with on defenders(not counting Ebner considering his value there is likely limited heavily, especially initially). It's hard not to be enthusiastic about finally making a real attempt to fix the problems that have ailed us.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:15 PM    (permalink
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Wow, Great writeup EE! I agree about Dennard, he's my favorite pick too. Real tough competitor with agressiveness you can't teach (abeit too much at times). Real curious to see what we could do with him at safety.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:29 PM    (permalink
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That is a tremendous write up EE. I am glad you took the time to share this. I wonder if the Boston sports media even knows that we are not part of the national scouting pool (I certainly didn't!) I would recommend sending that into Mike Reiss, he seems very open to thoughtful feedback, whether positive or negative.

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Old 04-30-2012, 07:42 PM    (permalink
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Having their own scouting department is very beneficial to the Patriots in some cases, and in some cases it's not. Personally, I like that they keep their own unit.

They've had some amazing hits from using their own sources and it really shows how great their scouting department has been when you look around the league and see all of the guys who are now running teams that worked for New England's scouting department.

I've said before about the Wilson pick... The safety class was really hard to judge past Barron. Personally, I loved Markelle Martin. But none of the safeties checked out very well physically or athletically, and they were all a mixed bag on film (or were injury-plagued like Martin). So if that's the guy they really liked and had to have (not knowing if they'd have more picks later), then I'm fine with that. S was their biggest need outside of pass rushers and they got their guy.

There weren't a lot of guys at S that matched up with Tavon's size/speed and most of the ones that did went to smaller schools or played against far lesser competition. Wilson was part of one of the better defenses in the country and played against some of the toughest competition of any NCAA school last year.

We always hear from Belichick about how much he'd love to have an Ed Reed, but he never goes after those types (save for once) because unless they ARE Ed Reed, they take too many chances and get burned. Belichick values just doing your job and not giving up big plays far more than making big plays. This has always been the case.
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:20 PM    (permalink
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Markelle Martin had some starting potential at free safety but was nowhere near as good as he was getting credit for being on here. He was more of a "play it safe and make the tackle" guy than a playmaker like Rahim Moore was. I thought he was frequently out of position to tackle as well and lacked the anticipatory skills to really excel. I had him as a third or fourth-round pick and was a little bit surprised that no one was willing to take a chance on him before the sixth round but I also don't think he'll end up as a (quality) starter in the NFL.
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