Feeling Drafty #28: New England Patriots: Offense

April 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , , )

Tom Brady had one of the best seasons a quarterback ever had. Of course, he’s going to win New England Team MVP.

If Andy Reid and the Eagles wrote the book on getting the most out of their late round draft picks, then Bill Belichick owns the book, and has read it religiously.  Check out all of these players who are a big part of the Patriots offense who were drafted in later rounds:

  • Brandon Tate, 3rd round, 83rd pick
  • Aaron Hernandez, 4th round, 113th pick
  • Sammy Morris, 5th round, 156th pick (by Buffalo)
  • Tom Brady, 6th round, 199th pick
  • Julian Edelman, 7th round, 232nd pick
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis, undrafted
  • Danny Woodhead, undrafted (by NY Jets)
  • Wes Welker, undrafted (by San Diego)

Only five major skill players on New England’s vast offense of playmakers were drafted in the first two rounds.  Everyone else, late round steals.  Great job by Belichick for recognizing talent and bringing them onboard, no matter how their college career went.

I’m pretty sure that everyone in America wishes they could be Tom Brady.  He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now, and possibly one of the best of all time.  He holds the record for most touchdowns in a single season.  His wife is SMOKIN’ HOT.  Face it, his life rocks.  And this season, he only cemented his awesomeness even further, by winning the MVP.  This season, he also set the all-time records for quickest quarterback to 100 wins, most consecutive regular season home wins, most consecutive two-touchdown, zero-interception games, most consecutive pass attempts without an interception, and best touchdown-to-interception ratio.

The running back situation was pretty interesting.  They started the season with four running backs, and ended the season with two running backs, but none of those six running backs were the same person.  After Laurence Maroney was traded to the Broncos, Kevin Faulk was put on injured reserve, Fred Taylor was hurt for most of the season, and Sammy Morris was converted to a fullback, that left the door open for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead to come in and carry the load for the Patriots.  And carry it they did, BJGE went for over 1,000 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, while Woodhead went for 926 total yards and six total touchdowns.

When the Patriots got rid of Randy Moss, all of my friends said that the Patriots were stupid, and that Bill Belichick had lost it, especially when they essentially exchanged him for Deion Branch.  But, I reminded them, that Bill Belichick never does anything for nothing.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Moss dropped off the face of the earth, and Branch came back in a big way for the Pats, proving once again that I am right about everything football.  (OK, maybe not.)  Oh yeah, and Wes Welker came back from injury to go to his third straight Pro Bowl, and he went for 86 receptions, 848 yards, and seven touchdowns in just 11 starts.  Par for the course for Welker.

And what New England’s tight ends?  Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were drafted with New England’s second and fourth round draft picks, and when Randy Moss was deemed expendable, the two rookies became inexpendable.  Gronkowski had 42 catches for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Hernandez went for a 45-563-6 season.  And let’s give a nod to Alge Crumpler.  He didn’t have a great season, but he was in there, doing the dirty work, throwing blocks and making New England’s three tight end set work, all at age 32 or 33.  Well done, Mr. Crumpler.

Justin Houston has climbed up the draft board like none other. This time last season, he could've been a late third-round pick. Now, he projects to be a late first rounder.

But, after all of that, the Patriots, in my opinion, will go for a defensive player.  After all, when was the last time that the Patriots went for an offensive player with their first round pick?  (Answer: Laurence Maroney, 2006, and he’s not even on the team anymore)  So, they have a need at linebacker, so I’m going to say Georgia OLB/DE Justin Houston.  He’s in a good position to convert to linebacker, at 6’3″ and 258 pounds.  He had a great season, with 56 tackles and 10 sacks at defensive end.  He should be able to fill the hole that Junior Seau left when he retired.  (Or Seau could just un-retire.  Seriously, Seau is the defensive Brett Favre.)

Tomorrow, we’ll have the teams that made it to the conference championship games.  It’s time for the final four.  See you in Chicago.


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Feeling Drafty #17: New England Patriots: Defense

April 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , , )

If Tom Brady hadn't made everyone else look like a bunch of chumps, LB Jerod Mayo probably would've taken New England MVP. But, I'll go ahead and call him New England Defensive MVP.

It’s kind of surprising that only one 1st-round pick was traded.  Oakland traded their 1st-rounder to New England for Richard Seymour.  Is this going to work out for both teams?  I think so.  Seymour is a leader on a young defense, and New England can get two players in the first-round.  Everybody wins.

However, this means that Oakland won’t get a Feeling Drafty article.  But, I can summarize their season in about five seconds, ready?  Gradkowski, Campbell, Gradkowski, Campbell, Gradkowski, Boller, we kicked Denver’s ass.  There was also the postseason firing of head coach Tom Cable and the promotion offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, the reemergence of Darren McFadden, and Nnamdi Asomugha potentially leaving, but that’s about it.

However, since New England has two picks, and therefore two Feeling Drafty articles, and since so much stuff happened to the Pats, I’m going to split the New England FD article into two parts.  This one will have New England’s defense, and FD #28 will have New England’s offense.  (And since I’m doing New England’s defense here, I’ll try not to talk about my mancrush on Tom Brady too much.)

This is a young defense that has a lot of pieces there to be a powerful unit for years to come, and they’re led by Jerod Mayo.  Ever since he won the AP Defensive ROY in ’08, he’s been one of the driving forces of the Patriots’ defense.  This season, he led the NFL in tackles with 175.  He was also named to his first Pro Bowl and his first All-Pro team.

They also have Devin McCourty, New England’s first round draft pick last season.  He was the only person other than Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh to earn any votes for Defensive ROY by collecting 82 tackles, seven interceptions (most among rookies), and 17 deflections.

And it’s not just young people on this defense, they also have some solid veterans like Vince Wilfork.  In seven seasons with the Patriots, he has over 350 tackles, 9.5 sacks, three Pro Bowls, three All-Pro selections, and metric ton of fines.  Granted, he didn’t get fined this season, but he had plenty in the years before.

Bill Belichick loves hard-working, over-achieving workhorses, and that describes Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt in a nutshell.

However, they still need to fill the hole that Richard Seymour left at defensive end when he went to Oakland.  I think the best replacement for him is Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt.  Belichick loves over-achievers, and Watt is nothing if not an over-achiever.  He earned tons of awards such as AP and Sports Illustrated 2nd-team All-American, 1st-team All-Big 10, and Academic All-Big 10.  Plus, he fits better in the 3-4 defense that the Patriots employs.

Well, that’s New England’s defense.  In Feeling Drafty #28, we’ll talk about the Patriots’ offense, so we’ll have plenty to talk about.

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