2011 NFL Draft First Round: Dolphins & Jets Writers Give Pats an A!
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Nate Solder will be known as one of the twin towers for some time. Sebastian Volmer, second-year offensive tackle, was very positive about the choice. Matt Light left the Vince Wilfork draft day party without a comment. Clearly, he knew that the Pats had zeroed in on...him. Light is a very smart guy.
That would seem to say it all. The Pats don't deal well with mouthy players such as Ty Law or Lawyer Milloy, nor with union oriented ones such as Mike Vrabel. Light had done both—been mouthy and an outspoken union guy. The Pats went with the classic French Foreign Legion approach on discipline—shoot one, and the rest fall in line. Or Bill Cosby's classic line, "eat one, and they fall in line."
Also, Solder is reputedly a rah-rah hard work guy, said by several scouts and general managers to have the best character in the first round as well as a high Wonderlic score. In his press conference, Solder emphasized he had a lot to learn but was confident he was highly coachable. Dante clearly liked him last Monday in a last-minute workout. Dante is the master of projects, positivism and quiet confidence.
Dante clearly thought the offense needed a strong offensive lineman more than a new stud running back such as Mark Ingram, who the Pats could have nabbed with their 17th or 28th pick. That's some vote of confidence expressed by Dante and the Pats in Ben Jarvus Green and Danny Woodhead. When the offensive line coach, Dante, wants to ride on the running backs a team has, that speaks volumes.
The Jets and Dolphins writers who graded AFC draft picks viewed it this way. They went on to say the trade of No. 28 was a major upside since the odds favor the Saints, who got the pick and Mark Ingram, would have a higher pick next year—which the Pats get, plus another Pats second-round pick this year at 56.
That's the positive side. The negative was both writers thought the Bills should have picked a quarterback to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick. As several commentators said last year, Fitzpatrick was not the problem. So perhaps these same writers are wrong about the Pats getting an A. I don't think so, but it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong...today.
The final interesting point was that the Prince, a potential Ty Law, was available at No. 17 and the Pats didn't take him. He was my pick even if a trade up was required. And they could have gotten my second choice at No. 28, Mark Ingram, and passed. And they could, and probably still can, get Bowers to bolster the defensive line and attack the quarterback. Again they passed.
Speculating about this suggests the Pats decided a stud offensive tackle was more important for the offense than a stud running back. And they were willing to bypass a potential shutdown corner in the Prince to do so. Fascinating. Look forward to today--Bill will have a field day with his picks, just like last year!
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