Three final thoughts from day one of the NFL Draft with an outlook towards day two:
1. I'm Convinced on Solder. Before a draft, fans and experts often develop opinions about who a team like the Patriots will select. As we've seen with the Patriots, 90% of the time, we don't have much of an idea what to expect. Most of us had Gabe Carimi and Anthony Castonzo ranked above Nate Solder, but we never should have expected the Patriots to. In fact, according to multiple reports, many teams had Nate Solder ranked above not only Carimi and Castonzo, but also Tyron Smith, who went ninth overall to the Cowboys. In fact, I am pretty convinced that if the Patriots had a top ten pick, they still would have selected Solder. Consider this: the team passed on Prince Amukamara and Da'Quan Bowers. And while they never passed on the likes of Robert Quinn or Ryan Kerrigan, they were certainly in striking distance. If they believed Robert Quinn was their guy, the Patriots could easily have traded a second or third round pick to move up and gotten him. Clearly, the Patriots are extremely high on Nate Solder. We've talked about him a fair amount on this blog, and the more I read and watch about the pick, the more I like it. I think Solder will be a very solid choice for the Patriots.
2. I'm not So Convinced About Matt Light. After the Solder pick yesterday, I honestly do not see Matt Light re-signing with the Patriots. It's not that I do not want the Patriots to bring Light back - for those who follow the blog regularly, I've been a full supporter of bringing Light back. But here's the thing: Matt Light is a very smart football player. He will acknowledge that Nate Solder is the tackle of the future, and he knows he probably only has one year left as the Patriots starting left tackle because of Solder's presence, possibly even less if he were to suffer an injury. Light will be 33 next season, and based on the way he has been aging, he probably has another solid three to four years remaining on his career. I think he could get a three year deal worth about $20 million on the open market. If Light wants to maximize his worth, he would sign elsewhere. There's also a chance the Patriots could slide Light inside to guard after a year of grooming Solder. The only problem would be that the team would be paying $6 to $7 million a year for a 34 year old convert guard. Here's what I said on the issue back in March:
Besides, why would Light pass up getting a solid contract (approx. 3 years $20 million) to get paid less and move inside to guard? I want Light back, Light wants to return, and I think the Patriots want him back as well, but if the team drafts a guy like Solder who is pretty much limited to LT, I think it would be sending a pretty clear message that the Patriots are ready to move on. At that point, I think Light will want to (move on) as well.
I hope I'm wrong. I do not want to see Matt Light go. But again, I think Light is smart enough to realize he's no longer the future in New England, and that might just make him want to play elsewhere.
3. I'm Perfectly Happy with the Trade of the 28th Pick. Last night, I wrote an article that some perceived as an attack to the Patriots trade of the 28th overall pick to the Saints for the 56th pick this year as well as their 2012 1st round pick. I expressed that I was initially happy with the trade, I didn't like it after the rest of the way the first round unfolded. I should have worded that differently. I was just frustrated with how the rest of the round unfolded, but you honestly can't be. Had the Patriots thought Muhammad Wilkerson or Cameron Heyward were the next Richard Seymour, they would not have waited. They would have pulled the trigger then shipped the 33rd pick for a 1st rounder in 2012. Bill Belichick and the Patriots know what they're doing. As Bill Belichick has had, there are plenty of good players left on the board. That being said, I would like to see the Patriots go after a pass rusher or two, a running back, an interior lineman, and possibly a safety, cornerback, or wide receiver with the rest of their day two picks. I also expect the Patriots to make the most of their day two picks, with the possibility of moving down just a few spots for a quarterback-needy team at 33. I could also see the Patriots shipping one of their two third round picks for a second round pick in 2012.