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Final Pre-Draft Predictions

By Patriots Blog Writer Doug Cutler Jr.

First, a quick word about the Boston Celtics

Stick a fork in them, I think they’re done.

My final Draft Prediction: The actual draftees

As I’ve been predicting for months, I see the New England Patriots drafting three players in the first two rounds, not four. I’m thinking Bill Belichick will swap two of his three second round picks (probably #47 and #58) for a late first rounder in the neighborhood of #27. Doing so will leave the Red, White, and Blue Crew with selections at 23, (27), and 34.

So, who will be chosen in those three slots?

OLB Clay Matthews III will most likely be selected at #23. This isn’t exactly news, as most everybody with an opinion on the subject believes he’s Belichick’s guy here. Matthews represents a package that seems to mirror what departed OLB Mike Vrabel brought to the table. He’s athletic and most people consider him a “blue collar” worker. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Matthews’ legendary father also played linebacker under Belichick while they both were with the Cleveland Browns in the 1990s.

With the second of their (projected) first round picks, I believe the Patriots will trade up for CB Darius Butler of UConn. Butler is considered to be a late first round talent and this is precisely where he will be taken off the board by Belichick. He’s not quite as small (5’11”/186lbs) as recent CBs chosen by the Patriots and he’s extremely fast (4.37). Regardless of which team ultimately lands him, Butler probably won’t be a starter in ’09. Rather, he’ll follow the same road as Patriots’ safety Brandon Meriweather, who saw little action his rookie year in order to be properly trained at the pro level.

At #34, I believe the Patriots will select G/C Eric Wood of Louisville. Not only is he big (6’4”/310), but he can most likely play center as well and Belichick is known to have a penchant for versatile offensive linemen. The fact that guards Stephen Neal and Billy Yates and centers Russ Hochstein and Dan Koppen will be 33, 29, 32 and 30 this year, respectively, doesn’t hurt Wood’s chances, either.

The bottom line on these three is this: Chances are two of them are going to pan out. If this occurs, the Patriots will have scored big time for the future in areas of serious need. Of the three players, Butler is the closest to what we’d call a “reach.” With the roster stocked with seasoned (but aged) corners, his will be a year of learning the ropes in practice, not games. Matthews and Wood, on the other hand, have a better chance of seeing time on the field when it counts.

Interesting statistic I’ll bet you didn’t know

The only quarterback to lead the Patriots in passing at least one year, then lose that distinction and gain it back is Steve Grogan, and he did it twice. Grogan was the passing leader from 1975 to 1984, again in 1987, and yet again in 1989.

Answer to last week’s question:

Punter Jeff Feagles played for the Patriots in 1988 and 1989. He is currently the New York Giants’ punter and has played in 336 games, good for fourth place in NFL history. George Blanda is in third place with 340 games played. Feagles is tops in NFL history in both punts (1,649) and punt yardage (68,607).

Question of the week:

Two consecutive Patriots head coaches were fired with winning records. Which coaches were they?

(Answer will be provided next week)


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