Phew! After an exhilarating weekend full of many twists, turns, and surprises, the 2011 NFL Draft has finally come to a close.
For the Patriots, I don't think the draft turned out exactly as most fans expected. While the Patriots ultimately did select two offensive linemen with the choices of Colorado left tackle Nate Solder in the first round and TCU guard/tackle Marcus Cannon in the fifth, they failed to address the front seven of the defense until the 194th pick in the sixth round, when they took Central Arkansas DE/OLB Markell Carter. Still, they added some quality depth to their running back corps with the additions of Shane Vereen of Cal and Stevan Ridley of LSU in the second and third round respectively. They got the draft's best blocking tight end in Marshall's Lee Smith. The team also added a potential shut-down option at cornerback to go across from Devin McCourty with the selection of Virginia's Ras-I Dowling with the 33rd overall pick. The team even selected its potential heir apparent to quarterback Tom Brady with the selection of Ryan Mallett in the third round. And oh yeah, the Patriots also picked up additional 1st and 2nd round picks for 2012.
The Patriots 2011 Draft class was not conventional by any means, but the Patriots rarely have a conventional draft. In all, the Patriots picked up three players who could be starting by the end of the season (Solder, Dowling, Cannon), and a whole bunch of players that could be role players from the get-go, or starters some time down the line.
But for now, take a moment to relax. Digest and discuss what has taken place the last few days. Of course, we will dissect every move and every player taken over the next few weeks. And hey, If all goes right with the NFL labor situation, training camp could be starting in only around 90 days.