NFL Draft 2011: New England, Pass Rush? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Pass Rush
With six picks in the first three rounds, and what had been said to be by every draft expert a deep field at OLB/DE, one would have assumed the Patriots were primed to finally fill a major need.
But, you'd be wrong, again. Instead the Patriots selected OT Nate Solder with their first, first-round pick at No. 17. Then in a move a blind man could see, the Patriots dealt their second first-round pick (28th) to the New Orleans Saints. The Saints then went and selected HB Mark Ingram, who more than a few Pats fans were hoping to see done the Navy Blue.
The Patriots got a 2012 first-round pick and the Saints 56th pick in the second round of the current draft in return for their first round pick.
But, they now have three picks in the second round; they can still address that glaring need, right? Guess again.
The Patriots opened Day 2 of the NFL draft by drafting their sixth defensive back in the first two rounds of the NFL for the fifth year in a row. Adding Ras-I Dowling out of the University of Virginia, which apparently means Darius Butler is going the way of Terrance Wheatley.
After drafting HB Shane Vereen with their second-round pick gained from the New Orleans trade, the Patriots repeated the first round, trading their own second round pick to the Houston Texans for a third and fifth round pick.
Are you satisfied with how the Patriots 2011 draft is turning out?
Another running back was added in the third with Stevan Ridley out of LSU. Yes, the Patriots already have a 1,000 yard back in Benjarvus Green-Ellis and spark-plug Danny Woodhead, but the Pats choose to add two running backs instead of, you know, adding that pass rusher they don’t have.
It also leads one to believe Kevin Faulk’s decade-plus tenure with the Patriots is coming to an end.
Finally, after taking Ridley, with the very next pick (74) the Patriots selected QB Ryan Mallet, the superbly talented (think Drew Bledsoe) quarterback out of Arkansas, who slipped down to the third round due to off-field issues.
Will he be the next Matt Cassel? Possibly, but just as easily he can become the next Kevin O’Connell, only time will tell. Certainly it behooves the Patriots to think of a future without Tom Brady, but… that is the future, and they currently are without a true threat off the edge.
Just so the Patriots can go into next year—again being the team sitting in the best spot, the Pats were able to trade their final third round pick to the Oakland Raiders for their second-round pick next year.
So just like this year they’ll have two firsts and two seconds, and just like this year they’ll probably end up trading them to end up in the same situation in 2013.
It seems like every year now, Patriots fans think this is the year the team goes all out in the draft, at the same time forgetting what happened only the year before. What’s that old saying about what happens to those who forget history, again?
It has been six years since the Patriots and Willie McGinest parted ways after the 2005 season. With that move the Patriots lost their last pure effective pass rusher.
McGinest, who was drafted number four overall in the 1994 NFL Draft, also represents the last time the Patriots took a pass rusher in the first round. Jermaine Cunningham is the next closest, a second-round pick last year.
Now, while Cunningham may one day prove to be a good pass rusher, a single sack campaign in his rookie year certainly leaves a lot to be desired.
Patriots fans have been begging for a pass rusher since 2009. That just also happened to be the year the Patriots traded their first-round pick (26th overall) to the Green Bay Packers for a second and two third-round picks.
The Packers of course drafted Clay Matthews, who’s become one of the leagues most dominant sack artists, and finished last year helping the Pack to a Super Bowl title.
With their now second-round pick, the Patriots added Darius Butler. Who as you read above looks to be on loose footing, as he now sits behind Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, and will have to battle the newly acquired Dowling just to be the dime cornerback.
While the Patriots had a stellar draft last year, adding McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Cunningham, Aaron Hernandez, and even Zoltan Meska, it didn’t help the Patriots poorest pass rush last season.
So far, this draft has the Patriots obviously haven't tried to answer the need, and with their next pick not being til the fifth run, I can't imagine it being answered.
When will the Patriots fill this need? Who knows… but to get back to the spot they haven’t been in since the 2004 season. Maybe the Patriots should take a look at what made up that roster.
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