After the recently concluded 2009 NFL Draft, experts pointed out that the New England Patriots failed to address a glaring need which was the outside linebacker. With Vrabel gone, most mock drafts had the Patriots taking an OLB at the 23rd or the 34th pick but coach Bill Belichick had other plans.
The Patriots passed on the likes Clay Matthews, Everette Brown, Clint Sintim, Conor Barwin, and Cody Brown who were probably rated as third round grade players on the Patriots board.
This is the best example that the Patriots draft the best player on their board not based on their needs as pointed out by coach Belichick in his Pre-draft press conference this year where he stated that:
"It's how we value the players, not how someone else values them and not what some other grade is on them or what round someone else thinks he can go in. What's important to us is what we think he'll do for our football team if he's here. That is really where the emphasis is."
With that said, what happens now? The basic idea of a 3-4 defense is to disguise where the fourth rusher will come from.
The only problem is that with the current personnel of the Patriots, blockers will key in on Adalius Thomas (as he is the only real threat among Patriots' OLBs) thus supposedly defeating the purpose of concealing where the fourth rusher will come from.
Three weeks after the draft, the Patriots have yet to add a pass rusher to their roster which could mean either:
1. Belichick has complete confidence in his current stock of OLBs or,
2. Belichick will be signing a free agent stud like Jason Taylor as an OLB, as speculated by the likes of Chris Mortensen of ESPN and Shalise Manza Young of The Providence Journal or,
3. Belichick is still looking to trade for Julius Peppers, which is highly improbable or,
4. Belichick will wait for another wave of free agents, which will come in a couple of weeks or so when teams drop veterans after assessing the result of the draft.
Whatever path the Patriots would take, one thing is definite, it would be for the improvement of the team as Belichick stated:
"Improve our team. That's what we are trying to do: improve our team. I don't know what the opportunities are going to be. We will have to wait ... to see what they are, but I hope we can take advantage of our opportunities and improve our team. We will know that this fall, we will know it next fall and we will know it the fall after that."
So no worries here Pats fans, GO PATRIOTS!