Everyone knows that the New England Patriots trade down in the draft in order to get later picks, but what type of players do the Patriots trade down to grab? As fans, we always moan when the Front Office opts to trade down and skip over the marquee player of a position. Is there a purpose for this type of draft movement?
Player: Brandon Meriweather, 24th overall
Player: Jerod Mayo, 10th overall
Position: Inside Linebacker
Players of the Position drafted earlier: Keith Rivers (9)
Player: Patrick Chung, 34th overall
Players of the Position drafted earlier: Louis Delmas (33)
Player: Ron Brace (40)
Position: Defensive Tackle/Nose Tackle
Player: Darius Butler, 41st overall
Player: Sebastian Vollmer, 58th overall
Position: Offensive Tackle
2010 draft and analysis after the jump!
Player: Devin McCourty, 27th overall
Player: Rob Gronkowski, 42nd overall
Position: Tight End
Players of the Position drafted earlier: Jermaine Gresham (21)
Player: Jermaine Cunningham, 53rd overall
Position: Outside Linebacker
Player: Brandon Spikes, 62nd overall
Position: Inside Linebacker
Let's look at the general theme of our first and second rounders.
Jerod Mayo, Patrick Chung and Rob Gronkowski were all the second players of their position to be taken in the draft. Do these players have something to prove to the teams who passed over them in favor of a different player? I believe that there comes a certain attitude with being #2, as opposed to being #1. While it may be hard to argue at this point in time that Mayo, Chung and Gronk have done better than their #1 counterpart (especially Gronk), one could say that they have done just as well. Mayo was defensive rookie of the year and had a solid sophomore season in comparison to Rivers. Chung, while he did have limited playing time in comparison to full time starter Delmas, put up respectable numbers with his playing time. Hopefully Gronkowski will do just as well as Gresham.
Ron Brace, Darius Butler, Sebastian Vollmer, Devin McCourty and Jermaine Cunningham all came into the draft as above average prospects, but without the fanfare of other picks. Ron Brace was often overshadowed by his Boston College counterpart B.J. Raji. Darius Butler was an unpolished player who could have been a 1st round pick, but dropped to the 2nd. Sebastian Vollmer appeared to be over-drafted in the 2nd. Devin McCourty was often overlooked due to Joe Haden, Kyle Wilson and even Kareem Jackson. Jermaine Cunningham wasn't on anybody's radar and was overlooked even on his college team by Carlos Dunlap. These players are guaranteed to have chips on their shoulder as they try and prove that they deserve to play in the NFL.
Character Concerns/Ability Concerns
Brandon Meriweather and Brandon Spikes both were cited injuring players on opposing teams during their senior seasons. Both were stellar players in college, getting All-American status for their final two years (each). Their on field conduct was marred with their questionable on-field conduct- although it only happened once each. Meriweather's drive was questioned before the draft, as was Spikes' athletic ability. I guarantee both players took notice. Meriweather has evolved into one of the position's elite in the NFL. Look for Spikes to do the same. One could also argue that Spikes would have fallen into the "second best" category had he not run a 5.0 at his Pro Day and that Meriweather could have been a "second best" if he didn't have character concerns.
So what type of player do the Patriots go after? They definitely seem to go for players who have chips on their shoulder. It seems the Patriots opt to pass over the "super star" and draft the 2nd player in the shadows. These players want to show their talent on the field and prove their worth. They aren't given anything and have had to earn all they receive.
These players aren't regarded as the best. They'll just do their best to convince you otherwise.