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Monday, April 24, 2006

Some Pats pre-draft thoughts...

The NFL draft is coming up this weekend and the Pats are loaded with picks, with multiple draft picks in the 3rd (2), 4th (2) and 6th (3) rounds.

Despite the alarming departures of some popular and, more importantly, very productive free agents earlier in the year, if you take a look at the Pats overall roster, things are not in that bad a shape right now.

O-Line / D-Line: The Pats are solid in the trenches. In the O-Line group you've got Neal, Koppen, Mankins, Light and Hochstein, and on the D-Line you've got Seymour, Wilfork, Warren and Green.

Contract issues aside (I believe Koppen will be due some bucks soon,) in these two areas, the Pats are pretty much set. I'm guessing the Pats will mainly look to add depth in these positions just in case of injuries.

Linebacker: Even though the Pats lost Willie McGinist, they are still in decent shape at Linebacker, with a group that includes Bruschi, Colvin and Vrabel. The problem is that after these guys things get a little thin, with Banta-Cain and Beisel following up.

This is an area on the team that could definitely use an injection of youth. The Pats need to start bringing in some new guys here to serve as the linebacker core of the future.

Quarterback: It goes without saying we are set here. The Pats need to bring in a veteran to compete with Cassell for the #3 job. 

Tight Ends: The Pats like to run a lot of two tight end sets and right now they only have two players at that position, Daniel Graham and Ben Watson, both of whom are known to hit the injury list at least once a season. The Pats were solid at #3 with Fauria, but now that he is gone to The Kingdom of Dan down in Washington, The Pats will need to acquire a 3rd tight-end.

Corner / Safety: If there's one area the Pats have depth, it's in the D-Backfield. The problem is, the last few years, they've needed all of that depth and then some to make it through the season. The Pats have got corner-backs and safeties up the ass but this is still an area the Pats will continually look to improve. They need to find that 'shut-down' corner of the future as well as well as a player they can groom to eventually take over the reins at strong safety.

The most glaring need on the Pats roster right now is at wide receiver. The Pats have Deion Branch, Troy Brown and Reche Caldwell as their number one, two and three receivers right now. Bam Childress and Bethel Johnson are also in the mix, along with a few other players that you probably would not recognize if they ran into you on the street.

That mix does not inspire a lot of confidence in me right now. Tom Brady is the focal point of the Pats offense and that means he's got to have somebody to throw the ball to. Branch is a good number one, but he will be double teamed like crazy if the Pats do not get a bona-fide #2 receiver to line up with him. I'm sure Troy Brown will be as reliable as ever and can always be counted on to make plays, but I am not sure he is a #2 receiver at this point. He is (and really always has been) more of a #3, slot-man. The rest of the guys on the list are relatively unknowns at this point. Aside from the fact that he was on Angela's fantasy team, (which actually inspires confidence in me that he's probably a decent player,) I know very little about Caldwell, the free agent who was brought in from San Diego.

I will be shocked if The Pats do not draft a wide-receiver this year. Frankly, I don't see how they can't.

Running back: The Pats have a good group of running backs but age and injuries could decimate this area of the team in the blink of an eye. The Patriots need to add some depth here. If Dillon is not able to perform again this year, The Pats have no-one that can step in to replace him right now.

Patrick Pass and Heath Evans did ok filling in last year, but the Pats need to find a real back up running back for Corey Dillon. I would love to see them find one of those diamond in the rough, Curtis Martin type picks in this year's draft, a running back who can come in and be part of a new foundation at this position, which has never truly been solid since the departure of Martin. (By the way, I predict Curtis will never win, or even play in a Super Bowl thanks to his good buddy Bill Parcells and his 'poison pill' contract... How's that workin' out for ya Curtis?)

So to sum up, yes, the Pats certainly have some holes to fill, but this is not what I would consider a 're-build' year, it is more of a re-tool and tweak year. With the bounty of draft picks The Pats have at their disposal, I'm sure a lot of those holes will be getting plugged up very soon.

IN BILL (and Scott) WE TRUST


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Every year is a re-tool and tweak year. That is what has lead to the Patriots success the past few seasons.

By not be in love with any one player, but understanding the changes within the league and the teams they play against, Bill and Scott choose the best players available that meet their requiremetns (cost included).

I agree that there are some concerns with back ups in the O-line, running backs and D-backs with obvious holes at receiver, linebacker and runnning back.

I don't the Pats will take an offensive player in the first round unless it is someone that can add value right away. I woudl not be surprised if the Pats do move up to take a good DB or LB and maybe even try to move up the second round to choose a decent RB or WR.

Otherwise I think the Pats stay with their historic picks of OL to solidify protecting Brady or DL to possibly consider a more 4-3 approach.

The schedule is a bit lighter this year, so Bill and Scott know who they have to play and understand what other teams have to offer for threats.

Does that mean WR, RB or DB by committee? Maybe - it has happened before.....

I would say the O and D lines are two areas that are pretty much set. Any picks here are probably going to be late round, depth type picks.

Then again, you never know what the Pats are going to do on draft day. The only thing they consistently do every year is they generally pick the best player available at their spot.

The good news is, with all those picks, they've got plenty of options to move around the board if there is a player they really want to get this year.

If I had to list their needs in order I'd say WR, LB, DB, RB, OL, DL, K.

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