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Draft Results, Grades, and Interesting Facts

By Patriots Blog Writer Doug Cutler Jr.

First, a quick word about David Ortiz

What are you supposed to do with “power” hitters that don’t hit for power or DHs that bat .235…especially when it’s the same guy?

If the answer isn’t simple now, it will be if the Boston Red Sox start losing games.

Draft hits, misses, and assorted other thoughts

Last week I had predicted the New England Patriots would draft OLB Clay Matthews, G/C Eric Wood, and CB Darius Butler. It is interesting to note that in retrospect, had the Patriots not made any trades, they could have obtained Butler and either of the other two players. With moderate trading as described in last week’s column, they could easily have nabbed all three. As it turned out Butler was the only one of the three that was selected.

Clearly Bill Belichick didn’t believe either Matthews or Wood was worth picking at #23 or he would have held on to the pick and used it on one of them. Heck, even after trading down to #26 he still could have picked either player. Not ever content to be outdone by anyone, Belichick traded down yet again, this time completely forsaking the first round altogether. For those of us outside the inner sanctum of Gillette Stadium, we are left wondering if the underlying issue was simply a financial one. Considering the massive list of players scheduled for free agency after the 2009 season, the concept of saving every draft dollar doesn’t seem so far fetched. Here is a partial list of players who will be up for new contracts next season:

Kevin Faulk, Stephen Gostkowski, Jarvis Green, Nick Kaczur, Logan Mankins, Stephen Neal, Ryan O'Callaghan, Richard Seymour, Benjamin Watson, Vince Wilfork.

Of those ten, only five or six can realistically be re-signed. Which five or six are anybody’s guess, but at least our guesses can be educated ones. For starters, due to his age and expected low price tag, Faulk probably isn’t going anywhere. Secondly, Gostkowski will most likely be re-signed as well. Exceptional young kickers aren’t exactly a dime-a-dozen and if you’ve got one it doesn’t make much sense to tempt fate by replacing him.

After that, the crystal ball gets murkier. One would think that Mankins is on that short list, but let’s remember this is the Patriots…or more importantly, Bill Belichick. Anything can happen, and it usually does. Of the three defensive linemen, a maximum of two will be re-signed and it’s my guess that Seymour will be the one left without a chair when the music stops, unless, of course, Wilfork demands Albert Haynesworth money.

O'Callaghan and Neal will be vying for single spot as well. Expect only one of them to return.

The free agent that is sure to be looking elsewhere for work in 2010 is Watson. Due to his previous performance (or lack thereof), nothing he does in 2009 can save his career with the Patriots. If he doesn’t show improvement, he won’t be worth keeping around and if he has a monster year he will undoubtedly price himself out of a job in New England. Consider him a goner.

In the end, three of those ten players (Gostkowski, Mankins, Wilfork) will be costing the Patriots serious money next year. Armed with that knowledge it doesn’t seem as baffling for Belichick to have traded his way out of the first round in this year’s draft.

If second round selections S Patrick Chung, DT Ron Brace, and CB Butler wind up being solid contributors for the next four or five years, the 2009 draft might well be Belichick’s finest hour as a personnel man. If they don’t, then the strategy of deliberately trading out of the draft’s first round in order to simply save money will certainly be relegated to the trash bin.

Draft grades

Chung is considered to be nearly NFL ready due to his body type and hitting ability but one thing scares me about him: If you read his report card, it sounds suspiciously like Dallas Cowboys’ safety Roy Williams’ game. In other words, he’s a safety that hits like a linebacker and covers like a lineman. Grade: B

Brace had a solid college career, but he wasn’t even close to being the best DT (BJ Raji) on his team. He might have been a reach at #40, but he’s definitely got size (6’3”/330lbs) on his side. Having played in the ACC helps, too, where the competition is generally pretty tough week in and week out. Grade: B-

Grabbing Butler at #41 represents great value. This is a guy who was considered by many to be a late first round talent. Most experts agree that he has speed and instincts; however, no one quite knows precisely how much of each he’s got in his quiver. The Big East isn’t exactly a top-flight football conference and Butler might have an eye-opening experience when he faces NFL caliber receivers. As I stated last week, he will be a work in progress. Grade: B+

Interesting statistic I’ll bet you didn’t know

Patriot head coaches Raymond Berry, Rod Rust, Dick MacPherson, Bill Parcells, and Pete Carroll combined had 122 regular season and playoff wins. Belichick has won a total of 116.

Answer to last week’s question:

Ron Meyer was fired mid-season in 1984, being replaced by Berry. Berry was fired after the 1989 season. They had 18-15 and 48-39 records, respectively.

Question of the week:

Former Patriot running back Craig James shared his collegiate backfield with an NFL hall-of-famer. What was this backfield tandem called and who was James’ teammate?

(Answer will be provided next week)

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the draft, and let's just wait and see about free agency which won't really be free. I think the division keeps getting tougher like way back in the day, but the Pats still remain in the drivers seat until someone in the division can not only beat them (or beat them consistantly) but win the division...and win the division consistantly. You're right about "Bill" and the Pats...they sure have shown that they know what they're doing.