As Patriots fans each of us has experienced those WTF moments as Bill Belichick maneuvers around the draft board. This year promises to be no different. So in no particular order, I'll give you the five moves I'll be most surprised if Hoodie makes.
1) Moving up from pick 17. I know that we are loaded with draft picks and they do us no good if we don't use them. I also realize that there is likely to be a rookie salary cap that will make higher picks more attractive. Added to that is the lockout and a very real possibility that a rookie won't get much practice time before the season (if there is one) starts.
You expect first round rookies to play a goodly number of snaps, but that's not likely to happen if they don't know the system or playbook. In fact, there is more reason than ever to push those picks back into next year, where the pre-season and rookie cap would be known quantities. The only problem, is that the league is saying that 2012 and beyond trades are at a team's own risk. For instance, if it is ruled that the draft is illegal, there will be no draft in 2012. The likelihood of that happening, however, is small.
2) Drafting a Tight-End. Remember, these are things I think are UNLIKELY to happen. With Gronk and Herndo signed for years and Crump here short term, the Tight-End situation looks to be well in hand. Still, Hoodie likes to draft Tight-Ends, and another blocker may be needed to replace Crump long term, so it's not entirely impossible. Blocking only tight-ends may be available in later rounds and there's always the possibility of a UFA camp body. I really just don't see it happening, but Bill could surprise me.
3) A trade for a player. While these are usually mainstays of Belichick's drafts. This isn't going to happen until the new CBA is in place. By draft time, they'll likely still be in round one of the three round litigation fight. No CBA, no trades - at least as far as we know. Could they agree, in principle, to a future trade once trades are allowed? Probably not, since that constitutes somewhat of a trade right there, but I'll leave that for the lawyers to decide. The reason this is a "surprise" is it means the CBA is settled, and THAT would be a great surprise.
4) The Pats actually keeping pick 33. Since pick 33 is the first pick of day two of the draft, it will likely be a highly coveted pick. Would a team offer a 2012 first rounder for it? Most likely. That would then turn a 2010 third rounder (originally) into a 2012 first rounder, which is an excellent value. With a full offseason next year, we'll be able to maximize the value of that first round draftee. I think it's highly unlikely we keep this pick, but Hoodie has surprised me before.
5) Two picks in the first round. While we have the 17th and 28th picks this year, it has already been reported that the 28th pick is up for grabs. Some people seem to think the Pats won't take two first rounders because they don't want to pay out two first round bonuses. If the rookie cap is in place, that might not be that big of a deal. With first rounders, though, you are looking at guys that can contribute immediately. Without a preseason and some time to get them into the playbooks, that's not going to happen. At most you're lloking for a frequent contributor by the end of the season, which will be difficult without playing time. Will Bill bring in two first rounders that see very little playing time? I'd be surprised if he did.
What do you think Bill will surprise us with this year?