When I think about the Patriots and the NFL draft, a line from Alanis Morisette’s song “Ironic” immediately comes to mind, “It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.” I then typically cringe, begin to sweat a bit, then whimper myself to sleep. Sure, the Patriots are among the best teams when it comes to drafting, but Bill Belichick’s history of trading down picks and selecting players at our best positions is absolutely maddening. Maybe Belichick is softening in his old age, I’m not sure, but it sure as hell seems as though he threw me a life-preserver this year.
With the draft approaching, I had several meaningful conversations with Pats fans as of late – it’s been long enough, we’ve had our time to cope, and speaking about the Patriots is slowly moving away from being a taboo subject. The new sentiment I’m hearing, and one I subscribe to very much so, is that Tom Brady just needs to win one more Super Bowl. It’s not about the best ever argument or anything like that anymore – it’s simply the fact that Brady has become a much better quarterback than he was in his younger years and he deserves to win a championship in this part of his career. A fourth Super Bowl for Brady, and we can all die happy.
It’s been maddening that the Patriots have seemingly forgotten that they were a defense first team when Brady & Co were ringing off championships. Brady never had a single offensive Pro Bowl player in any championship season, but he had a roster filled with defensive stalwarts. Heck, the Patriots didn’t even know what they had in Brady in those years. Since they’ve come to realize Brady’s greatness, it’s as though they’ve thrown any importance attached to the defense out the window – and in doing so they’ve put up several of the best offensive season’s in the history of football, while winning a total of 0 championships. Earth to Bill, draft some defensive players for heaven’s sake.
Simply put, I’m ecstatic with this year’s draft class. The Patriots selected defensive players with their first six picks – frankly I don’t care if these guys were the linebackers on the Little Giants or defensive ends in the XFL, I’m just happy as could be that their needs were addressed. It seems as though the Patriots got a few definite studs, and they took their usual Belichick sleep picks as well that left everyone utterly confused. I love it – our defense in a couple of days changed from old, small, and slow to big, fast, and young. Here’s what we landed.
Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse, Pick #21, 6’5 266 pounds
The Patriots obviously love this guy – he should contribute immediately at the position where we need to most help.
Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama, Pick #25, 6’2 265 pounds
Hightower has been touted as the Patriot that will have the most immediate impact. At their respective press conferences, Chandler Jones seemed giddy and talked about how excited he was to be a Patriot. Hightower instead talked about how he was ready to crush people, basically saying, “Every player on the other team is going to want to know where I am on the field… and I’ll get to them regardless, and when I do, it’s going to hurt.” We’ve got a savage in the making here – and Belichick is already comparing his football IQ to that of Jerrod Mayo.
Tavon Wilson, CB/FS, Illinois, Pick #48, 6’0 205 pounds
One of Belichick’s WTF picks, nobody expected this guy to get picked this high – or at all. It seems like a good “system” pick – who knows. He’ll either be great, or he’ll be working at Kohl’s by the end of camp.
Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas, Pick #90, 6’5 274 pounds
Almost everybody in New England’s favorite pick – we got this guy late, and his production in college was absurd. He’s crazy fast for his size, and he beat out the majority of wide receivers and running backs in both the 3-cone and short shuttle drills at the combine. He’s also a team leader, an absolutely no problems off the field type of guy. Awesome.
Nate Ebner, SS, Ohio State, Pick #197, 6’1 205 pounds
Another of Belichick’s bizarre picks, who’s very similar in size to Tavon Wilson. Again, not sure of Belchick’s angle on this one.
Alfanzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska, Pick #224, 5’10 204 pounds
The other surprisingly awesome pick taken in the later rounds, this guy was projected as a late first or second round pick but fell dramatically because he was arrested last week. Almost everybody cites this guy’s talent, as he shut down many of the best receivers in college football this year – most of whom were selected much higher than he was. This is a personality flaw pick, but if anyone can control him it’s Belichick.
Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern, Pick #235, 5’11 200 pounds
Wide receiver is not a position in need by any stretch of the imagination for the Pats, but this was a great pick as well. With his size and a 4.4 forty under his belt, he’s both bigger and faster than Wes Welker. He’ll compete primarily with Julian Edelman and Anthony Gonzalez, which is a nice problem to have at the back-up slot receiver position.
I have big expectations for these guys, and I think that Jones, Hightower, and Bequette in particular have a chance to transform this team defensively. So here it is, my prediction that you can trace back to May 1, 2012 at next year’s Super Bowl; if Tom Brady is healthy throughout the playoffs next season, the Patriots will be hoisting the Lombardi trophy.