Posted by Adam Kaplan on Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Technically, Pick 17 was reserved to the Oakland Raiders but they traded away their 2011 first round draft pick to the Patriots for Richard Seymour. I know I should talk about the Raiders team right here considering this is technically their pick, but I need to do a full discussion on the Patriots 1) In order to know what player they should draft with the 17th overall pick in order to realistically help the draft board move along 2) so I know what the Pats need when their next pick comes along and 3) I'll just do a full discussion of the Raiders when it comes to Pick 28- the true New England draft position.
If I was the GM on th New Patriots I would just go up to Bill Belichick and say, "what would you like to do with your team". I promise I'm not just saying this because I'm a Patriots fan, but I'm saying it because it's true. Bill Belichick is THE greatest active coach and is one of the greatest football coaches of all time. He truly is a football genius when it comes to play designing, player evaluation, and how to run an NFL football team. Needless to say what I think about the New England Patriots does not matter. What you think of the New England Patriots does not matter. All that matters is what Bill Belichick thinks because he is smarter than you.
It's because of this that I'm kind of going to half-ass this post. Not because I'm lazy (albeit I am) but because I really don't know how Belichick's scheme works completely. Here's what I do know:
1) Don't turn over the ball on offense.
Yes, obviously a huge cliche in football, but the Patriots are masters of it. From Week 6 on Tom Brady didn't throw an interception in the regular season and only threw at least one interception in 14 out of the 16 games he played in. Running back BenJaarvis Green-Ellis hasn't had a fumble in his entire professional career. Danny Woodhead and Wes Welker each and one last year. You can't teach awesomeness. Well, Bill Belichick can.
2) Have an amazing offensive line.
The only other team that could possibly rival the New England Patriots in terms of offensive line talent is the New York Jets- and with the Patriots putting the franchise tag on G Logan Mankins, their offensive line will still be awesome. Although it is a legitimate concerns that Mankins leaves after next year, this line is not only the catalyst for this offense (and what it should be with every team) but it gives Tom Brady so much times that it's easy not to give up turnovers.
Belichick also takes the philosophy that The 'Bright' One and I teach- it is unnecessary to draft running backs (and wide receivers) when you have an amazing offensive line. The Pats line creates more holes than a carpenter (he has drills, makes stuff... never mind) that even undrafted, 4th-guy-on-the-depth-chart BenJarvis Green-Ellis looked amazing and was a Pro Bowler in my eyes for the 2010 season.
I know many talking heads (especially those on ESPN) say the Patriots should draft a running back, but why waste the draft pick?
3)If you play defense, be extremely versatile
What made the Patriots teams of the early naughts so great was a) Because of Belichick's awesome system b) Bill was a great motivator/ found great defensive players who were hungry enough to want to win Superbowl(s) and c) Bill's great 3-4 scheme calls for versatility and Bill has always been able to find those guys.
Like any good defense- you have to be able to rush the passer. The Patriots have kind of lost that edge and lost those great linebackers like Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Roosevelt Colvin, and Willis McGinest. Sure, individually those guys were average at best. But you put them together and under a Belichick team and they did great things.
The Patriots defense have some elite parts. They probably have the best nose tackle in the game right now in Vince Wilfork, one of the best linebackers in Jerrod Mayo, and a rookie elite cornerback in Devin McCourty. Sure, the only reason I can name any other Patriots defensive player is because they have names like Tully Banta-Cain and Rob Ninkovich, but name brand really doesn't do anything because, like I've preached for the past five minutes, this is a Bill Belichick team.
In order for a Bill Belichick team to run well it needs two main parts: great offensive lineman and pass rushers. Hell, it doesn't even need an elite quarterback as Matt Cassel's 11 wins showed us in 2007 (Granted, it absolutely helps).
So let's see who fits the bill under this Patriots system that's still left to draft. In terms of offensive lineman, both Mel Kiper Jr and Scouts Inc agree that Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi and USC's Tyron Smith are here for taking. In terms of pass rush, Todd McShay thinks that Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn is a good choice while Mel Kiper believes that Purdue's DE Ryan Kerrigan would be better.
I think in terms of who the Patriots should draft (because they think they way I do) and in terms of what Kiper and McShay agree upon- the New England Patriots will take Tyron Smith. Offensive tackle out of University of Southern California.
- Versatile Linebackers
- Defensive Backs
Game Of Inches Mock Draft (so far):
1) Carolina Panthers- DT Nick Fairley (Auburn)
2) Denver Broncos- DE Da'Quan Bowers (Clemson)
3) Buffalo Bills- CB Patrick Peterson (LSU)
4) Cincinnati Bengals- WR A.J. Green (Georgia)
5) Arizona Cardinals- QB Blaine Gabbert (Missouri)
6) Cleveland Browns- OLB Von Miller (Texas A&M)
7) San Fransisco 49ers- CB Prince Amukamara (Nebraska)
8) Tennessee Titans- QB Cam Newton (Auburn)
9) Dallas Cowboys- DT Marcell Dareus (Alabama)
10) Washington Redskins- DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)
11) Houston Texans- CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado)
12) Minnesota Vikings- OT Nate Solder (Colorado)
13) Detriot Lions- OLB Akeem Ayers (UCLA)
14) St. Louis Rams- WR Julio Jones (Alabama)
15) Miami Dolphins- DE/OLB Aldon Smith (Missouri)
16) Jacksonville Jaguars- DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin)