With my 23rd pick in SBNation Writer's Mock Draft, I picked Clint Sintim, OLB Virginia.
You guys may or may not kill me. Begging for mercy may come, but I'll throw this out there in hopes that you go easy on me. After all the fine drafting suggestions you have written and all the thought you put into it, I completely ignored your fine advice. :-( Before you run me out of town on a Duck Boat, hear me out.
The New England Patriots have many needs: OL, OLB, ILB, S, CB and not necessarily in that order. From a 10,000 foot level, the main driver for picking defense over offense was that defensive players were flying off the shelves like nobody's business. LBs and DBs were tops in our Mock Draft. As it turns out, the Falcons had pick #24 and their head blogger was ripping that I took Sintim.
Why an OLB? Well, it seemed we did a good job of shoring up CBs with free agents and trades. Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs were nice additions adding both depth and veteran experience. Combined with Ellis Hobbs, Jonathan Wilhite, and Terrence Wheatley, that didn't appear to be an immediate need. One could've made an arguement for an ILB and it would've been a good arguement. While safety is a concern, I do believe some of the guys we're looking at (Patrick Chung, William Moore, Louis Delmas) will be available in later rounds, so no reason to jump at them. In the end, there were 3 reasons why I went OLB: a) they were moving quickly in our Mock Draft, b) even though Pierre Woods and Adalius Thomas are healthy, I believe we need a rookie to groom, and c) the departure of Mike Vrabel.
Here's my writeup:
With the 23rd pick in the 2009 NFL draft, the New England Patriots select...
Clint Sintim, outside linebacker, Virgina
The loss of Mike Vrabel to Kansas City opened up a spot in the roster for someone to fill. There were trade rumors that Julius Peppers was interested in moving to OLB in a 3-4 and the 'Net went wild with predictions NE would make a play for him. He's far too expensive for the Patriots' tastes in my opinion. Another trade rumor involved Jason Taylor coming to NE. Robert Kraft basically said if he wants the job, it's his; I believe (confirmed by The Phinsider's Matty I) that Taylor would take a hit in terms of his legacy. He's also indicated interest in coming back to Miami which would, in retrospect, be the best place for him to end his career.
With all of that out of the way, OLBs Adalius Thomas and Pierre Woods are the most likely starters with second year man Shawn Crable as the young buck at that position, but it's crucial NE develops talent at OLB. We had an abysmal pass rush in 2008, if any at all, and need to get back to generating pressure in the backfield. Sintim lacks in coverage, but is known to be a powerful pass rusher, capable of shedding blocks and getting into the backfield. After two years of NE looking "soft" on defense, I'm ready for them to crank it up a bit.