Kicking off today’s free agency frenzy with a fun piece looking back at some Patriots draft whiffs. It’s surprising how many times they’ve struck out in the second round. I also included “20/20 Hindsight” picks.

Really good breakdown from Oliver Thomas at NEPatriotsDraft.com. Was glad to see quite a few of my big board guys on here as measurable fits. Though overall I don’t put that much weight into the combine numbers, ultimately I think it comes down to “was it good enough” and not that there is some standard.

Bill Belichick’s Patriots are the only team to exist outside of these rules. Their middle rounds were littered with guys who did nothing, or next to nothing, in the NFL. Their draft success ranked in the bottom third of the league during these seasons. But even in 2009, those guys made up a large chunk of the roster. Nearly a third of the roster was made up of guys who were never drafted at all; the Patriots signed them for cheap and plugged them right in.
The NFL Draft: Here We Go Again

I think I’ll start my draft research today. I’ve gotten plenty of questions about specific prospects but I don’t pay any attention to college football or the draft until now, when the Pats’ season is over.

I find that three-plus months is more than enough time for the goat rodeo that goes on each spring. There are plenty of draftniks out there that study far more film than I do and they do it year-round. 

I don’t claim to be an expert at scouting, I only claim to understand the kind of players that fit the Patriots scheme and the kind of players that they look for. If you want to see how I’ve done in each of the last three seasons with my Patriots draft board, you can find out here: 2011, 2012, 2013.

Draft analysis has almost become a competitive sport at this point, but I just try to do it for myself for fun.  People get so attached to prospects, angered at random mock drafts, or into vehement arguments regarding who will be drafted where. At the end of the draft, almost everyone is 90% wrong about everything.

Here’s a secret - even the NFL teams don’t really know what they’re doing, much less the countless amateur draftniks out there. Again, I don’t want to take away from all the hard work that many out there do, but trying to predict the completely unpredictable and then getting mad about those who disagree is silly.

A huge percentage of these prospects we spend so much time debating will be out of the NFL in a matter of years, if not months. And that one player you love for the Patriots? Yeah, they’re probably not going to draft him.

So let’s just try to have fun with it. My favorite part of the draft is when it’s over and the speculation is done. The Pats will have a handful of rookies and then we can dive into the real analysis.

I’ll be focusing on free agency in most of the posts here in the coming weeks, while slowly crafting my big board. “Needs” at this point are pointless in relation to the draft. The Pats will fill every hole they have in free agency so they’re free to take the best player available in the draft.

So our focus will remain mostly on free agency for now but the time has come once again to hit the draft pipe… 

The last three years, New England has made 28 draft picks, and 15 of them were college captains — 10 of the last 16 picks made in the last two years. The last three years, Devin McCourty, Brandon Spikes, Stevan Ridley, Ryan Mallett, Dont’a Hightower and Zoltan Mesko were just some of the college captains who were drafted by the Patriots.

Good stuff from Chris Price…

Like every other team in the league, the Patriots look closely at a prospects physical skill set, but when it comes to wide receivers and defensive backs, they pay particular attention to quickness, agility and footwork. That’s why the 3-cone drill can be a good indicator of whether or not a potential prospect is on New England’s radar screen: lots of the relatively under-the-radar receivers (for purposes of this story, let’s call them non first-rounders) the Patriots have gone after in recent years have all excelled in the agility drills. Edelman had a 6.62 second time in the 3-cone drill as a collegian. Deion Branch was 6.71 (at the 2002 combine), Chad Jackson (at the 2006 combine) was 6.74 and Wes Welker was 7.06. (For some perspective, those performances would put them in the Top 10 at the combine most years.) That also translates to the defensive side of the football, as Devin McCourty’s 6.7 in the 3-cone drill at the 2010 combine put him second among all corners.

Good stuff from Doug Kyed at NESN, with a few interesting coverage linebackers. I’m all for taking one of those somewhere along the line.

Nice work here from Michael Talarski who dives into the professional vs. amateur draft pundit predictions.

unemployedacademic:

If you’re fan of only one sport the off-season can be long and arduous. So you have to find ways to keep yourself entertained. For NFL fans the NFL draft adds a break from the wait. As such it becomes a tad insane. Following the draft can be fun, though it’s hard to educate yourself. The “best”…

Patriots have a second dynasty defense in the making

The biggest focus of my last five years of blogging about the Patriots has been Bill Belichick’s chance to rebuild his defense from scratch and with total authority. While Belichick deserves a great deal of credit for the Patriots defenses that won three Super Bowls, ultimately those defenses were not hand picked by him.

Sure, he took the draftees of the previous regime like Bruschi, McGinest and Milloy, along with a collection of castoffs from other teams like Vrabel, Phifer and Harrison, and put them in positions to succeed, but those years just proved his coaching genius. Those players were not going to play forever, and now Belichick has a chance to prove his scouting and development genius.

It’s rare that a coach has the kind of control and vision that he gets to construct a defense from scratch, but that’s exactly what Belichick began doing in 2008 with the selection of Jerod Mayo.

Thus, one of my most favorite times of year is the draft, especially when Belichick takes defensive players. So you can imagine my excitement after this year’s haul, and in fact it’s taken a few days for it all to actually sink in. It’s safe to say it left me speechless. Until now.

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