Mike Wallace has proven himself on an NFL field. He has racked up over 3,000 receiving yards in his three-year professional career, including a career-best 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2010.
And No. 17 leaves little room for surprise, as Wallace has yet to miss a game.
We know what Brady-to-Wallace might look like, and we're high on the image. But despite the fact we all agree Wallace would look good in a New England uni, people wonder whether the wideout is worth burning a first-round pick over.
Let me break down the opportunity cost of ceding that first-rounder to attain Wallace.
Sure, there's the possibility the Pats draft the next Jerry Rice with that pick, but history says otherwise.
Second to quarterbacks, wide receivers give scouts the most trouble when predicting who will transition smoothly from college to professional-level play—and who will continue to excel in the NFL.
Many college players don't have experience with press coverage. Others won't be fast enough to get separation in man coverage.
Further, the Pats have historically done a poor job drafting at that position.
ESPN Boston columnist Mike Reiss breaks down New England's shaky track record:
Not since the second-round pick of Deion Branch and seventh-round heist of David Givens have [the New England Patriots] struck gold at the [wide receiver]. That was 2002.
Misses include Taylor Price (third round, 2010), Brandon Tate (third round, 2009), Chad Jackson (second round, 2006) and Bethel Johnson (second round, 2003), with the Jackson and Johnson selections magnifying the struggle because the Patriots aggressively traded up to secure them. Three times, there have been game-changing receivers selected shortly after the Patriots' pick -- Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace in '09, Green Bay's Greg Jennings in '06 and Arizona's Anquan Boldin in '03.
Given the uniform difficulty of drafting a wide receiver, and New England's decade-long string of bad guesses, the Patriots should take the bird-in-the-hand approach with Wallace.
They're running too thin at receiver to take a risk on a rookie. With Wallace, the Pats know what they're getting and still have picks to spare.