In the NFL draft, some teams set themselves up for the future; other teams look for the missing piece to win now.
Then there are the Patriots.
They draft for tomorrow, they wheel and deal for today...and they make it all look easy.
OK, that second part didn't actually happen. In theory, yes; in reality, no.
Moss has the potential to make the Patriots offense one of the most powerful in football—assuming New England gets touchdown-scoring, deep-ball-catching, freak-of-nature Moss rather than bench-pouting, route-quitting, team-killing Moss.
The Patriots now have the weapon they've desperately needed for years. Tom Brady loves to throw the deep ball, but has struggled to find a go-to guy. Deion Branch fit that role for a couple of seasons, but most of the deep balls Branch caught were skinny posts or double moves. Moss will be able to get off the line of scrimmage, beat a corner with ease, and outjump anyone when the ball is near him.
Skeptics might point out that Moss hasn't been the same since he left Minnesota—that he's 30 years old and slowing down. Even so, he's still an upgrade over any receiver on the Patriots' roster, and there's no telling what a change of scenery will do. Moss' character, which has been an issue in the past, shouldn't be a problem in New England...so long as Bill Belichick gives him some of that Corey Dillon Kool-Aid.
Bottom line: New England got an elite receiver for an offense that badly needed one. They could have done no better with their fourth-round pick this year, which already makes the trade worth every penny.
The Patriots had real draft picks too, and they added some key players that will provide much-needed depth.
The Pats' success on the field can be attributed to many things, and one of those would be a focus on the offensive and defensive lines. On the second day of the draft, New England picked four linemen (three on offense, one on defense) who should make an impact.
With a spotty history of health along the O-line, the Pats made a good move to get depth by drafting two tackles (Clint Oldenburg and Corey Hilliard) and a guard (Mike Elgin), all of whom should be able to fill in as needed and push the starters for playing time.
Going into the draft, New England needed to find safety and linebacker help. In the first round, they picked Brandon Meriweather, a safety and brawl-starter out of Miami.
The hope is that Meriweather will eventually replace Rodney Harrison as the starting strong safety. When Harrison has gone down with injuries in each of the last two seasons, the defense has suffered greatly—so the investment in Meriweather was a good move.
In the fourth round, the Patriots drafted defensive lineman Kareem Brown, also out of the U. In going back to the Miami well, the Pats might have been looking for help should the Chargers seek some midfield logo revenge when the two teams meet again this year.
Two linebacker picks in the sixth and seventh rounds may pan out to be good moves as well. Justin Rogers (SMU) and Oscar Lua (USC) were both defensive stalwarts on their respective college teams, and will hopefully challenge for starting spots.
Riding the momentum of an already prosperous offseason, the Patriots proved again in the 2007 NFL Draft that they have one of the best personnel departments in the league. With their newest additions in place, another date with the commissioner and the Lombardi Trophy might not be far off.