While draft weekend is usually a time of the Patriots picking players at positions where they don't need them, they broke the mold in 2008. Finally they drafted a collection of rookies at positions where they really needed them. Here's a recap of who they got:
Mayo was his Name-O
Rumors came out in the days just before the draft that the Pats had ILB Jerod Mayo targeted. I thought it might be another smoke screen but this time it was actually true. Michael Holley of WEEI and Don Banks of SI.com were right. Tom Casale and pals at Patriots Fan Weekly were wrong like me. It's amazing they work in the same building as the Patriots do and still have as little insider info as I do 3000 miles away.
Anyway, I had Mayo as a Pats Potential but thought he'd be more likely in the second round. Apparently as scouts did more study on him (since he declared after his junior year the scouts weren't prepped on him) they all fell more and more in love with his game. This is a positive sign. He isn't shooting up the boards because of his combine performance (Jet-Beast Gholston) it's because of how he plays the game. Now even if Junior Seau doesn't return the Pats are looking a whole better at ILB with Tedy Bruschi, Victor Hobson, Eric Alexander and Mayo. Mayo looks strong and fast and he's just the player Pats fans have been waiting for the organization to draft. Now our hopes and dreams for Tedy Bruschi's heir to the throne are placed squarely on young Jerod Mayo's shoulders.
The Pats like CBs that are 5' 10", 189
Terrence Wheatley (2nd Round) and Jonathan Wilhite (4th Round) are almost the identical size as Ellis Hobbs. Wheatley looks fast. Wilhite played in the best conference in college football and some think he was overshadowed by Auburn's other corner, Patrick Lee. Both will come in and compete. They could both be cut or starting, neither would be a surpise. But I will say that i think Wheatley looks like he could be a steal.
Who are those guys?
Okay I'll admit it, when the Pats drafted a quarterback in the third round I definitely said "whaaaaa?". But as I scoured the Internet to learn about this kid I was pretty excited about what I found. First and foremost he needs time to develop. Okay well he's got that. He's 6' 6" and led the team in passing AND rushing. This guy is an athlete. Can make every throw at the NFL level. Any Patriots fan out there who tells you he feels confident if Matt Cassel as a backup is either a complete moron or secretly not a Pats fan. Give him a couple years, who knows what can happen. He could be trade bait like Matt Schaub was for Atlanta. I won't even mention the other possible reason he might be useful to us (in case the unmentionable happened to our current starting QB). Regardless, he's a talented developmental prospect who looks the parts of an NFL quarterback and apparently has the arm (and legs) to back it up.
I also did a "whaaaa?" when the Pats took Matt Slater who never even started at UCLA in the 5th round. NFL.com didn't even have a page for him on their draft info page. But I guess he's a special teams demon and his dad is A.C. Slater or something. Maybe a reach but he's clearly fast and a one of those 'football player' types, or as I prefer to call them 'guys who are really really into football, almost to an unhealthy level'.
Crable and Vrabel? Seriously?
Not only did we get a man for the middle linebacker spot, we picked up a pass rusher OLB. I've watched some internet highlights of Crable and let me coin his nickname now... "Crazy Legs". He's fast and looks like a heck of a runner but he's got these skinny legs flying around. Part of the knock on him was that he has trouble planting due to his Crazy Legs. But there's no knock on him for pass rush skills. This guy can get to the quarterback, something the Pats badly need. Where he stands in the competition with former Wolverine teammate and current Pats backup OLB Pierre Woods remains to be seen in Training Camp.
I admit that i didn't see the 6th round selection live. I left that to be a surprise when we got back from seeing Sarah Marshall (which was okay but not one that will be making it on to the Netflix any time soon as much as I loved seeing the guy from How I Met Your Mother's twig FOUR times). The Pats picked up Cornhusker ILB Bo Ruud. He gets an A for the name, but there's not much info out there on him (typical Pats) since apparently no one but Pioli and Belichick had this kid on their board. Can't complain about another young ILB on the roster. We'll see what he does.
The Pats draft was a success in my eyes. The Pats got multiple players at positions where they needed them the most. They also got a few developmental players that each seem to be uniquely talented so it will be interesting to see how those players develop. Depth is a bit thin at tight end still but overall the Pats are looking to be in pretty good shape as we enter the second void until training camp opens. Onward to Rookie Free Agent signings!