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From Aaron to Zoltan, An Analysis of the Pats Draft

After a long wait for the time of the draft to finally be here, it has passed. And after a long weekend full of high expectations, in which many teams were made better, we are left to analyze the results. This year’s draft had an overwhelming amount of big names. The Patriots got to take home 12 players from this weekend, but really only three familiar names (Spikes, Hernandez, Robinson).

In Foxboro, we’re used to looking at our draft board with confused looks, wondering why Bill spent so much time around two positions, when we needed so much more. But this year was finally different. Although it started with an interesting selection of a corner/returner, Bill and the selection team did a great job addressing the needs.

This was most apparent in the four second day picks. On the second day of the draft, we were able to cash in with a tight end, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and wide receiver. We finished up filling the needs with the third day selections that included adding depth to both the offensive and defensive lines, a punter, and a third quarterback.

Here are my grades on each pick:

Devin McCourty – CB/KR Rutgers
Grade: C
- The grade here is not because of the talent of McCourty, but because of his position. This is a slot that the Patriots have already invested in, with Darius Butler and Leigh Bodden. His kick returning ability however is something that we can use immediately. Welker isn’t going to be available to return at the start of the season, Faulk is getting up there in age, and Edelman will be needed much more as a receiver with the absence of Welker. As for his time as a rookie taking defensive snaps, look for him to fight Wheatley and Wilhite for snaps in the nickel package.

Rob Gronkowski – TE Arizona
Grade: A-
- At the start of the second day, Tedy Bruschi said Gronkowski should be the first off the board. How can you go against Tedy? The only reason this isn’t a flat A is the skepticism of Rob’s back. Gronkowski didn’t play this past season due to back problems, but he came out at the combine and Arizona’s pro day looking healthy. This can be an absolute steal. Gronkowski’s size (6-6, 264 lbs) makes him a great target and a great blocker. He has potential to become an elite tight end in this league.

Jermaine Cunningham – OLB Florida
Grade: B
- Cunningham is here to address the issue of pass rusher. He played his four years at Florida at defensive end, so the switch may prove to be a tough one for him. Cunningham was a quiet presence on Florida’s defense, but was very consistent. With 19 sacks in the last three years however, he was still consistently getting to the quarterback.

Brandon Spikes – ILB Florida
Grade: A
- It’s tempting to give Spikes an A+, but his speed is still scary. Running a 5+ second 40 is not the best statistic for his game. But that lack of speed can be hidden in the 3-4 style defense ran by Belichick. Spikes, unlike his gator teammate Cunningham, was loud and a focus of the dominating Florida defense. He makes up for his speed with his ability to read the offense and be a vocal leader. If Spikes and Mayo can get along from the start, these two can be an amazing duo in the middle for some time. Mayo being a very superior athlete in this case, Spikes being the superior vocal leader. Hopefully they can put their Gator-Volunteer rivalry behind them.

Taylor Price – WR Ohio
Grade: B+
- Price is a speed wide receiver with decent size (6-2) from a small school without a quarterback. Price is an extremely promising talent, but too many times we have seen promising wide receiver talents come to New England and never quite rise. He has shown the ability to take a hit and get right back to the next play without a problem. Also being the focus of the opponents gameplan, he was still able to put up numbers in his final year for the Bobcats, 56-784 and 5 TD.

Aaron Hernandez – TE Florida
Grade: B-
- Yet another gator selected by Bill here. I’m starting to think the dinner in the North End with Tebow was less to talk about him, and more to talk about his teammates. Hernandez is a great receiving tight end and fills a need here. He brings the total of tight ends to three, the perfect spot. Hernandez will be used a lot more for him receiving then his blocking, which is different for a third string tight end.

Zoltan Mesko – P Michigan
Grade: B+
- When I first saw that the Patriots draft a man by the name of Zoltan, I couldn’t stop thinking of “Dude, Where’s My Car” and the search for the Continuum Transfunctioner. But back to the draft. Zoltan fits an immediate need. Bill doesn’t focus too much on a punter, so a young punter will be perfect. Especially if he has to step out onto the field as rarely as the Patriots punters have in the past few years.

Ted Larson – C NC State
Grade: B
- Larson adds depth to the offensive line which may be needed sooner rather than later with the recent issues with LG Logan Mankins. Larson was a past defensive lineman at NC State during his first two years, so it is possible that his potential is just tapped into.

Thomas Welch – OT Vanderbilt
Grade: B-
- Welch again adds to the depth at the line, but tackle is not a spot of need currently as there is a line behind Light, Kaczur, and Vollmer. But Bill loves his smart players.

Brandon Deaderick – DE Alabama
Grade: A
- At 6-4, 270 lbs, Deaderick is the perfect man for the job of 3-4 down lineman in the Patriots system. Belichick is known to be good friends with Nick Saban at Alabama and so this pick looks even more attractive. The depth is lacking severely on that front, and if Ty Warren continues to struggle to stay healthy, Deaderick may be asked upon very early.

Kade Weston – DT Georgia
Grade: B
- Weston is another large d-lineman. He stands in at 6-5 315 lbs and is a force for his opposing linemen. He probably won’t see too much time early, but on goal line plays, he can thrive with his size.

Zac Robinson – QB Oklahoma State
Grade: A
- Robinson is a here for necessity. This is perfect to be able to have a solid young talent behind Hoyer heading into the season. And, who knows, we can train him for a while like the previous seventh round quarterback selected by the Patriots before him, Matt Cassel.

Now the wait begins for OTA’s. Just a few weeks, and plenty of new faces to check out. Other things to be on the lookout for in the weeks leading up to the OTA’s, Logan Mankins and Stephen Gostkowski contracts. Wrapping that up would be vital.

Ed Mahan

1 comment:

  1. Draft day (week-end?, Looonnnggg week-end?) is always fun. Can't help but be optimistic. Kinda like spring training. Just hope the Pats get off to a better start than the Sox...sigh...