(I need this Watertown Police Patriots hoodie with the #BostonStrong ribbon and I need it yesterday.)
Well you can’t win ‘em all, I guess. Even the most astute Patriots draft analysts who spends most of his days combing through prospect reports and most of his nights looking up at the moon and wondering if Belichick is gazing at it at that exact moment too, can’t get every pick right. There’s still plenty of drafting to do so I’m not declaring defeat just yet. But so far I can’t honestly claim to have nailed any of their picks. I will take credit for identifying their areas of need though. When most the pundits were fixated on an edge rushing defensive end, I was saying a DE would be insane since they’re perfectly happy with Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. When the experts demanded a 1st round wideout, I said it will never happen because the bust rate on them is off the charts. Instead, when they were getting it wrong, I was sporting draftwood for a coverage linebacker, a lower-tier receiver and a cornerback who fits their system. So far after four picks, it’s looking like I was in the right pew but the wrong church.
2nd Round, 20th Pick (52nd overall): Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss. 6-3, 250
What I said: With three starting linebackers all taken in the first two rounds of the last five drafts, you might think I’ve got a screw loose for thinking LB is a high priority this year too [but] if there’s one guaranteed way to exploit this Patriots defense, it’s been to throw on the linebackers. If I was trying to beat this team, I’d run 3 Verticles to draw off the secondary, then hit the tight end over the middle or someone coming out of the backfield. And I’d just keep doing it until someone proved they could stop me. Which they haven’t done since probably the time Tedy Bruschi lost a step 5 or 6 years ago. Simply no one they’ve had at the LB spot has been able to cover people… I can see the Pats preparing to let [Brandon] Spikes go by grabbing his replacement now. Someone who can hit, fight off blocks, stop the run and most importantly, knock a freaking pass down that’s thrown by a QB other than Mark Sanchez.
I liked other guys with similar skills who were generally rated higher than Collins. Credit Mike Mayock of NFL Net for having him as his 49th overall prospect and his 3rd best OLB: “During his sophomore year, he moved from safety to linebacker… in 2011… he totaled 98 tackles (19.5 for loss), 6.5 sacks, and eight pass break-ups. As a senior, Collins tallied 92 tackles (20 for loss), 10 sacks, four forced fumbles, and five passes broken up… Quick feet and long strides help him close on quarterbacks, move down the line to crash on runs, as well as give him the short-area agility to move in coverage with slot receivers for short periods despite his height and length. Short area quickness, and the ability to redirect in an instant. Power hands at times. Capable of shedding in either direction to contain or fill a gap. Knows to knock receivers at the line and crossers off their routes with his strong arm extension…he presents scouts with surprising agility for his size and the length to be an effective 3-4 backer capable of doing a bit of everything.”
And at Southern Miss, that “everything” included posterizing sons of bitches:
2nd Round, 27th Pick (59th overall): Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall. 6-3, 210
What I said: “Wideouts have the biggest bust rate of any position. And never make a quarterback; it’s always the other way around. That said, you look at that roster and it’s impossible not to see need…this year wide receiver is an area of need. The problem is, there is absolutely no way of telling what the Patriots type is. They’ve rarely drafted them, and only taken 5 in the first 3 rounds of Belichick’s career. So how can you judge?… I’ve heard Scott Pioli say that, much like women, the Patriots are interested in the size of guy’s hands. Because Big Hands = Big Receptions. Or something… Dobson’s problem isn’t his attitude (as far as I know) it’s that he’s a weird physical specimen. Some think he’s got the best hands in the draft, but his hands are my issue. They’re bizarrely tiny, only 8.5” on a 6-2 body. By comparison, Keenan Allen is the same height and his are 10.08”. He catches a lot of tough passes, but I’m with Scott Pioli on this one: I don’t know if I’m comfortable with having Dooneese split out wide for me.”
OK, I immediately regret the Dooneese thing. And oh, right. Scott Pioli isn’t here any more. And he ran Kansas City into the ground. And New England’s drafts have been way better since he left. It’s the last year I make that mistake. Here’s what NFLDraft Scouts said about Dobson in a sidebar feature in their print edition: PROTOTYPES: Hands – Aaron Dobson, Marshall. Uncanny hand-eye coordination. Made several spectacular catches look simply routine and impressed at the Senior Bowl.” What none of us mentioned is this little nugget: In his senior year with the Thundering Herd, Dobson was targeted 92 times and had 0 drops.
3rd Round, 21st Pick (83rd overall): Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers. 5-11, 191
What I said: “[C]ornerback is a staple on Belichick’s (cliché warning) grocery list… The obvious question then is what do they look for in a corner? And I can identify for you Belichick’s “type” with two numbers: 4.5 and 7. For all the cornerss they’ve taken in the Belichick Epoch, none of them have had 40 times above 4.5 or 3-Cone Drill times above 7 seconds… Johnny Bravos: Logan Ryan, Rutgers. Not referring to the Cartoon Network show, but the Brady Bunch episode where Greg got offered a gig by music producers to cut an album under the name Johnny Bravo but his voice was all synthesized to the point it sounded nothing like him and he later found out they only chose him because he fit into the Johnny Bravo suit. So he turned his back on a lifetime of money, fame and doing lines of free coke off the bellies of groupies to go back to a life of obscurity, bagging groceries and fighting Peter and Bobby for the bathroom sink. Meaning I just include these guys because they fit the whole 3-cone time thing… Ryan might stand a chance because of the Rutgers connection… I just don’t think [he fits] the suit well enough.”
Fail. He fits the suit perfectly. I had that putt all lined up and just lipped it out. Here’s what WalterFootball, who had his as their No. 13 CB, was saying: “Ryan is a sleeper prospect who could turn into a good pro. He has gone under the radar to a degree, but was extremely productive in his final collegiate season. The Combine was moderately disappointing for Ryan, but he had a very good 2012 season. The junior amassed 94 tackles, 17 passes broken up and four interceptions. Ryan’s coverage was consistently good, and he had a presence all over the field. Rutgers put him on an island and Ryan held up well in man coverage. He has man-coverage ability for the NFL. Ryan may have been better off returning for his senior season to have a shot at being one of the top corners in the 2014 NFL Draft class.”
3rd Round, 29th Pick (91st overall): Duron Harmon, Rutgers. 6-1, 200
What I said: Not a thing. Every year Belichick makes one midround pick just to mess with us. Last year I was at a bar for Rounds 2 & 3 with a dozen or so people from the PatriotsPlanet message board. All hardcore draft geeks who eat, sleep and breathe Patriots. And when they announced the Tavon Wilson pick, we all just looked at each other, dumbfounded. Not one of us had ever heard of him. And we were damned if anyone could find any info on him on their phones or tablets. Personally I was convinced he was the kid that got killed by the Neighborhood Watch guy. So I’m making this into a yearly honor. This year’s recipient of the first annual “Tavon Wilson Who the Fuck is THAT? Award”: Duron Harmon. Now in one round we’ve come two steps closer to the ultimate goal of an all-Scarlet Knights starting secondary.
What the NFL’s draft profile of him says: “Bill Belichick knows that school like few coaches do. I had him on my board late as a late-priority free agent. I got on him late when I saw some cut-ups. I moved him up my board because I went, ‘Wow.’” — Mike Mayock. During the 2012 season, Harmon started all 13 games at safety, recording 50 tackles and seven pass breakups. For that effort, Harmon earned first-team all-Big East honors. It was Harmon’s second consecutive first-team all-conference nod.
So I didn’t exactly kill it so far. But I can’t complain about the way they addressed needs. Plus the obligatory mindfuck pick. Plus I got my other great wish, not one but TWO lousy quarterbacks coming to the AFC East. Thank God for the Bills and Jets.