Here's a quick review thus far of our 2009 NFL Draft picks! Sorry I have not written much lately...I've been really busy. Here's to a good game against the Ravens! I'll be there in person, rooting the Pats on.
2. Patrick Chung, S - Chung did not get a ton of playing time as a rookie, but he has looked phenomenal thus far this season. He hits hard, is rangey, and instills fear into opposing receivers. He's also made a major impact on special teams. He is showing why he was our first pick in the draft, and he looks like he may blossom into a special player. A-
2. Ron Brace, DE - Brace looked like a complete bust for his first two offseasons, but then something clicked when he was asked to play more at defensive end. He is still a bit inconsistent, but at least he is capable of showing at times why the Patriots traded up to draft him. Good push, good against the run, hope he plays more. B
2. Darius Butler, CB - Last year, Butler looked like he had lots of potential, but he has been underwhelming thus far, to say the least. He lost his jerb to Kyle Arrington and is still having trouble adjusting to the NFL. It seems like he has hit a mental block. He has the talent to get it together and will probably get another chance, but it's all on Darius now. If he can wrap his head around the playbook, he could be a good complement with McCourty. C
2. Sebastian Vollmer, OT - Vollmer was an absolute wall as a rookie, even though people were scratching their heads when we orginally made the pick. This year, he has been a bit more up and down; he is definitely much more adept against 4-3 pass rushers than 3-4, standup men at this point. Still, he is entrenched as a starter on this team for a long time, and was a steal in the late second round. I'd take him over any OT in this draft not named Michael Oher. He could be a perennial Pro-Bowler down the road. A
3. Brandon Tate, WR - When he drafted Tate, Bill Belichick said that he was a first round talent who slipped to the third. Tate has proven him right so far. He is a demon on kick returns, already notching two TDs this year. He also looks super quick with the ball in his hands, and he is poised to take an even bigger role with Randy Moss now in purple. He can stretch the field, has great hands and body control, and is able to rack up yards after the catch. Tate looks like he could be a special player for us down the road. A-
3. Tyrone McKenzie, ILB - McKenzie has had a lot of bad luck since he came to New England. First, he got injured and missed the whole season last year, then this year the Patriots drafted Brandon Spikes and T-Mac got cut. He didn't look terrible when he was given a chance to produce, but that's what the third round is all about for Belichick; he takes risks. Still on our PS, maybe we'll get something out of him. D
4. Rich Ohrnburger, OG - I expected more out of Rich, he has been underwhelming for the past couple of seasons. Still, as a fourth round pick, he found his way back onto the roster so maybe we'll get something out of him thanks to one of the best developers of linemen in the game, Dante Scarnecchia. He could be a very good guard, he's athletic enough. C+
5. George Bussey, OG - Another raw prospect who I thought should make the team this year, but unfortunately did not. Converted TE who was another risk pick. F
6. Jake Ingram, LS - Great pick, and great value in the sixth round. You can't ask for more than someone who is solid snapping the ball. B+
6. Myron Pryor, DT - A real find this late in the draft, Pryor has shown a great ability to penetrate either from the right end or as a nose tackle. He is small but strong and explosive, a steal in the sixth round. He's a rotational pass rusher right now who hasn't looked quite as good this season as he did last, but he could be a very key component for us in the future. And anytime you get a contributor this late, it has to be seen as a positive. B+
7. Julian Edelman, WR - Major, major steal. If he had played any WR in college, he would have been looked upon as a third or fourth round pick. He hasn't gotten a ton of playing time this year because of the glut of depth at the receiver position, but he is absolutely deadly with the ball in his hands. In the preseason game against the Saints, he did something that I had never seen before; he HEADFAKED the cornerback and blew his mind, running past him. He's had some injury troubles this year but he's been a solid contributor and could be a future starter; at the end of the day, that's great for a seventh round pick. B+
7. Darryl Richard, DE - I liked him, no one else seemed to though. D
So, counting it all up, the 2009 Draft yielded us 4 starters (Chung, Vollmer, Tate and Ingram), 3 key rotation members who could eventually be starters (Brace, Pryor and Edelman) and 1 player who, if he puts it all together, has shown the athletic potential to be a starter (Butler). That's a pretty impressive draft; we hit on at least 7 of 12 picks and, possibly, 8 of them, with only one miss (McKenzie) that was mainly due to talent in front of him and injury issues.
Hopefully this in indicative of future Patriots drafts, and we can build a new dynasty from the pieces of the old one. Go team!