Being a New England Patriots fanatic as the NFL draft approaches is like being an eight year old on Christmas Eve.
You’ll pass on the Wii system if you can get a speedy wide receiver. Or maybe the action figure you’ll find under the tree is a defensive lineman with a knack for the quarterback.
But for little Billy Belichick this year, the pickings look slim. First of all, there will be fewer gifts under the tree than usual.
In exchange for the Albert Haynesworth battle figure whose batteries never worked and the Chad Ochocinco learning center toy that couldn't learn the play book, picks number five and six are gone. And although we hope that Aqib Talib will be a gift that keeps on giving, pick number four disappeared when he came down the chimney last November.
On the slim pickin’s end, how excited can you get about a draft where some of the biggest buzz is about which of two offensive tackles should be selected first—and one of those offensive tackles played for the mighty Chippewas of Central Michigan, owners of a 7-6 record in the much-feared MAC conference.
Another disappointing aspect of this year’s draft is the absence of great names. Among the contenders this year are Barkevious Mingo, Darius Slay, and LaAdrian Waddle.
But these guys can’t even begin to compete with the 2009 NFL draft class of Marcel McBath, Captain Munnerlyn, and Ryan Succop.
But in this season when we’ll receive fewer toys—and even they don’t look quite as shiny—what can we predict for the Patriots when Santa lands on their roof?
The single most reliable prediction is that the Patriots will be unpredictable. They’ll make several moves, but whether that will be trading up or trading down, it’s hard to know.
My instincts tell me the Pats will trade out of the first round and get extra picks in return. Bill’s a big believer in having a large pile of toys to mix and match.
Another prediction that’s unlikely to go wrong is that we’ll see one or more “value picks.” Bill’s constantly on the lookout for those “if-only” picks, the guys who would have gone higher if only this or if only that hadn’t occurred.
Just look at last year. Chandler Jones was much sought after, but he would have gone even higher if only he hadn’t suffered an injury and played just seven games for the Orangemen of Syracuse in his junior season.
And how about Alfonzo Dennard. He would have gone much higher--if only he hadn’t lost control and assaulted that police officer. Bill saw a hard-working, talented kid who had never been in trouble with the law, and must have been salivating as he saw him drop to pick 224 in the seventh round.
Final prediction—and the one I hope I am absolutely wrong on—is that the Pats pick a wide receiver or defensive back with one of their top picks, and he’s a flop.
Darius Butler and Brandon Tate came in Rounds 2 and 3 in ’09, and Taylor Price was drafted the following year in Round 3. None of them is a Patriot, and all are marginal players hoping for playing time elsewhere.
Bethel Johnson, Terrence Wheatley, Chad Johnson. The sad list of sorry picks goes on and on.
For a team with such a magnificent record on all other counts, it defies logic that the Patriots’ brain trust cannot identify talent when it comes to catching passes from Tom Brady or batting them down from the brothers Manning.
So even in this season of slim pickin’s, the draft always brings visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.
It’s Christmas in April, and in New England all the little kiddies from 8 to 88, are hoping that Santa won’t put coal in their stockings.