For fans like me, the months following the NFL season is like god damned choose your own adventure book. Here we sit, stunned wondering why our beloved Patriots couldn't get past a team that was a 4th and 29 away from not even MAKING the playoffs. We stew. We hope. We start watching the COMBINE. We get sucked in by Mel Kipers lucious head piece and start listening to swirling tales of college athletes who will help us get another banner, patch, hat and limited edition DVD. We huddle around our computer screens watching obscure Youtube clips of college players, imagining their Sunday/Monday/Thursday impact.
The NFL has officially given themselves year round relevence. Genius.
(The recent development of Brady's contract restructuring has me thinking we are in store for an off-season like 2006-2007 where free agents(Randy Moss, Adalius Thomas) came shooting into town and everyone had their DVD's pre-ordered. God damn Giants.)
Back to the draft.
Our recent work through Free Agency (Talib, Ochostinko...cough...Haynesworthless....cough) has cost us a few picks in this years draft and we would benefit from an extra pick or two. The most valuable chip we have is our First Rounder and by the time we pick, we may be looking at comparable talent available in the Second round. There is depth in this draft in our need area (DB, DT & WR) and having an extra couple heads from the draft can be key.
In case I am wrong about the trading, I figured I would give some First Round talent some looks. Here are two DT & two CB names to keep in mind when the late first round/Second round comes a calling:
Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama - Watching the draft the last few years, I am obsessed with the word MOTOR. Someone who has no quit. Always pursuing, never relenting. This kid can play the 2 technique and would give some major support to Vince and Kyle Love. Especially with BB loving him some 4-3 defense, this would be a BIG plug in the middle. Plus he is from Austrailia and hasn't played Football his whole life. The organization loves moldable, worldy guys. Plus he might be the strongest dude in the draft.
Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State - If this guy is around by the time we pick, you gotta have a looksee. He is a BEAST and I witnessed it firsthand this year in Columbus. I would be surprised if he is around by the end of the first round too. Not as good of a motor as Williams but he is stout.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State - This guy is, hands down, one of the best press corners in the draft class. While he isn't regarded as the BEST corner in the draft, he is the biggest and probably the most physical. The cornerbacks in Seattle are a good comparison and he would fit in great with a guy like Talib.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington - Guy has NFL in his blood. You will see him on the board right around the time we pick. Honestly, most have him listed in the top 5 on the board at CB. If the Pats have the ability to take him or new X-Man it would certainly address a need.
Other names worth mentioning:
Matt Elam, S, Florida - Alot of the writers around these parts are high on this guy. His brother is someone I thought we would target last year around the trade deadline but KC's secondary was ravaged.
Eric Reid, S, Louisiana State
While BB doesn't seem to draft WR well, there has been talk that they will be on the hunt for a WR. Some names that may be tossed around:
Tavon Austin - WR I mentioned earlier who just BURNED the combine this weekend. Super fast and the same body-type/game-type as Wes Welker. His stock went through the roof and anyone looking for a game changing slot reciever may be salivating after this weekend. With the recent developments, it may be that the Patriots are "all set" with a slot reciever for a while.
Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State & Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
DJ Swearinger, SS - NC State - A mid rounds prospect who apparently has met with Patriots scouts. Boy can HIT. Like MEAN. Also has been flagged a TON in college for some juevenille behavior(never stomped someones head but some pretty bad penalties). If anyone can clean that up, BB can. Loose cannon with a ton of upside. Kid played every position in the secondary at NC and you know how much BB likes versatility.
Travis Kelce - TE - Cincinnati - ANOTHER TIGHT END YOU SAY?!?!?! NO!!!! NO WAY!!!! Yes kids, it's true. We may just take another TE in this draft. He has NFL roots as his brother is the C for the Eagles. Health concerns(sports hernia) and Character Concerns (Hey it's Medicinal in Mass!!) but he just may be a steal in this draft if he gets scooped sometime in the second/third round.
Ever updating, the information available in the days leading up to the draft will change and adjust. Suckers like me are there to tell you all about it!! Happy March, NFL fans!!