I enjoy reading the in depth knowledge of the Pulpiteers concerning draft prospects. If the sports media knew half as much as some of our contributors maybe they wouldn't be so incredibly lame.
What can we learn about the drafting ways of Belichick? He isn't going to tell us. We can revel in the folly of trying to predict what players he is going to choose. One can only attempt to discern his methods.
Last year I was convinced he was going OLB/DE. They were logical spots to address. A couple pass rushers and we would be complete. In our simple linear world there were no other alternatives. He went OT/CB/RB/RB/QB/OL. A chorus of anger and bewilderment ensued. We need a GM, Hoodie lost it etc. etc. We know BB isn't stupid, what can we learn from these actions?
Teams were reaching for pass rushers. BB wasn't going to join the lemmings running over the cliff. Let us look at the 2011 pass rushers by draft position and sacks, simplistic as it is,
2 Miller 11.5
7 Smith 14
11 Watt 5.5
14 Quinn 5.0
16 Kerrigan 7.5
20 Clayborn 7.5
24 Jordan 1.0
31 Heyward 1.0
37 Sheard 8.5
39 Ayers 2.0
42 Reed 6.0
51 Bowers 1.5
Miller and Smith were clearly on the top of the food chain and there were certainly other good players. Trading four or five picks to get in the top 7 is debatable. BB decided to fill the pass rush need through free agency. Carter and Anderson each had 10 sacks. Ninko had six. Just as many as Clay Matthews.
He had more needs than OLB/DE. Why not address those needs? The offense can't rely on TFB/Welker forever. Even with Gronk/A-Bomb this side of the ball was incomplete. They needed to pour the foundation for their running game. We begin to see the transformation away from the pass only offense. The seeds have been sown to produce balance, to take the pressure off TFB.
How many holes do we have on offense now? Center? Not a huge hole. WR no doubt. There are a dozen big WRs available in this year's draft? Plus several free agent candidates. The Pats will not have to spend a lot of assets to have a fine offense.
Therefore we have the means to obtain defensive players. There are worthy players in the first two rounds. Is it a coincidence that this draft is deep in CB/OLB and WRs? Really? Aren't we lucky.
To see BB's draft philosophy we have to look beyond the clichés. If you draft in the high 20's every year eventually your talent is going to be in the high 20's. So he moves to get the players he wants and gets future picks. He must take chances. Playing it safe guarantees mediocrity. I also think he has improved drafting in recent years. It has been reported that he is far more engaged in the process since 2009.
Will all the picks work out? No. Will we be able to point at good players we didn't draft? Yes. Is the draft a crapshoot? No. It is much more complex. Dice produce a finite number of outcomes. Predicting human performance is an exponentially more difficult endeavor.