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Change In Offense?
It was pretty much clear that through the first three rounds, Belichick is planning on changing the Patriots offense to pass happy, to evening it out more with the run. The Patriots now have four running backs who could take the ball on any snap of the game in Jarvus-Green Ellis, Woodhead, Vereen, and Ridely. This is the most depth the team has had in the position in recent memory.
Can you blame Belichick for drafting two backs? Brady is aging and in the 2010 postseason, it was evident that Brady had to play almost a perfect game for the Patriots to advance in the playoffs. With a more balanced offense, the Patriots offensive attack will be more lethal. Having four different backs that have different skills can take more pressure off of Brady and the offensive line. It would definitely help that on 2nd and six, the defense doesn't know if the Patriots will drop back and pass or hand it off to one their multi-talented backs. Having a strong running game will allow the Patriots to have more versatility in the offensive department.
Pass Rush: Not A Top Priority?
After the third round ended, the Patriots had drafted two running backs, an offensive tackle, a quarterback, and a cornerback. The main question was with such depth in the draft at the outside-linebacker position, how could the Patriots avoid one their biggest problems, to just have depth on offensive positions? If you try to think about what the answer to this question is, there are three possible outcomes.
1. Belichick is satisfied with the younger players (Jermaine Cunningham, Rob Ninkovich, and Dane Fletcher) the Patriots already have on the roster and has a strong faith that they will develop into pass rushers.
2. After locking in Solder at the No.17 pick and Dowling at the No.33, Belichick felt like there were no more available players worth drafting that were better than the players the team already has at the position.
3. The Patriots feel like they can address the pass rushing issue through free agency(when/if it starts) or can address the position with their later picks in the 5th, 6th, or 7th round.
Is Ryan Mallet The Brady Replacement?
All great things must come to an end. As a loyal Patriot followers, we all knew there would be a day when Brady would no longer be the quarterback of the Patriots. Is Mallet the replacement? I think he very well could be but we won’t get a glimpse of him for a few seasons. Not too much energy should be wasted on this because Brady is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and after unanimously receiving 50 MVP votes, there is no reason to even think of a replacement for the three-time super bowl champion . I suspect Mallet will take a similar road of Matt Cassel and Brian Hoyer, learning behind the best in the business. Belichick transformed Cassel from a career back-up, to an NFL starter for the one the best upcoming teams in the NFL.
Of course we would of liked to see Belichick address the pass rush. It's a definite need for the Patriots but he has made some smart moves so far and has addressed some of their team needs. A strong offensive tackle will be key for our offense for years to come, especially if the team can't resign Mankins or Light. Another lock down corner if he stays healthy, would be a huge boost for our defense and if the Patriots can use their four running backs as a weapon, their offense will be very tough to stop. Belichick also set the Patriots up with two first and two second round selections in 2012. Belichick may have made some questionable moves today, but he knows what he's doing and team still has four more selections in this year's draft.