I've said it a million times and I'll say it a million more: If I could teleport into just one location in the world at any one particular time, it would be to the Patriots War Room on Draft Night. (A distant second would be Monica Bellucci's villa in Tuscany when she's feeling sort of lonely and is opening a bottle of chianti.) Unless it's one of those years when Ginger Satan has taken their 1st round pick away over some trumped up bullshit. Then I'd pick Day 2.
So, like any Patriots fan, these rare glimpses of the behind the scenes of the operation are always pure, high quality, couples appeal, Grade A Patriots Porn. This after all remains the most guarded and secretive War Room in the league. It's not like the Cowboys, letting the networks put them under constant surveillance. Or the Eagles, who looked like the world's biggest wedding party getting fitted for their suits:
As erotic as it is to get these looks into Belichick's War Room, these clips are never a fountain of information. Quite the opposite, actually. The Pats' media team is painstakingly careful to digitize out the names on the white board like they're license plates in a piece of news footage. There's a better chance of seeing the launch codes in the nuclear football than anyone outside that room getting the slightest indication of how their draft board is arranged.
Usually. This year's obligatory 1st Round Pick Phone Call Video showed us something. Not on the white board. But on Belichick's screen:
Needless to say, the Boston sports radio stations are running with this, and declaring Josh Downs a Patriot already. And if that's the case, I don't hate the idea. At all. More on that in a second.
But let's acknowledge that there could be a dozen reasons why GM Bill is watching that play that has nothing to do with his interest in Downs. He could've been looking at whoever was in coverage on the play. Or some other defender. He might have just been doing what we all do, which is two-screening his way through a long night that involves a lot of sitting around waiting. And for all we know, this Downs video was one of a hundred highlight reels he had one during the course of the night and the Kraft Media cameras just happened to post this one.
And let's not discount the notion this was done specifically to throw everyone else off the Patriots scent. When their attention to detail is so great that they coached a roster bubble cornerback up on the exact, specific play he'd end up facing from the 1-yard line with a Super Bowl hanging in the balance, no one can put it past them that they'd release this video just to convince everyone they've targeted Downs when they're really after someone else. In that way they had the whole world convinced they were burning the phone lines to move ahead of the Jets in 2008 and grab Vernon Gholston. The Jets ended up taking the cheese while Belichick moved back and took Jerod Mayo. With predictable results for both.
So don't assume this isn't some similar spycraft. After all, Belichick is nothing if not a student of history. In the lead up to D-Day, the Allies created an entire fake army in the UK, complete with inflatable tanks and dummy radio traffic. They even put fake invasion plans in a dead man's uniform and let him wash up on shore to make the Germans think they were going to land at Calais. Compared to that, releasing a Josh Downs image is child's play.
But again, if that's the plan, I approve. As I said a few weeks ago, Downs is a full time slot receiver on a team that needs one:
Josh Downs, UNC. 5-9, 171 lbs, 4.48
Another smaller receiver who played almost exclusively in the slot, Downs saw the outside less than a house cat, with all but 80 of his nearly 1,000 snaps coming from inside the numbers. As a sophomore, he cracked 1,300 yards with eight touchdowns, then followed that up with just over 1,000 yards and 11 TDs. He's obviously limited by his size and catch radius, but attacks the ball to win more contested catches than he probably has any right to. His strong suit is pivot routes to shake defenders and find seams between zones, as opposed to getting over the tops of corners with high end speed. But that's always been a valuable skill in the Patriots attack since the Wes Welker days.
So yes, please. They're not on the board until the 15th pick tonight. A crazy run on receivers in the 1st round like you have in your Fantasy draft every year drained the talent pool at the position, leaving Downs arguably the best available. And landing him might require using up some of the picks they have in their stockpile. But it would be wild to get the very guy GM Bill was doing some last minute studying on, like a kid cramming for an exam. Either way, thanks for the inside look. Keep them coming.