NFL Draft 2011: Hoarders: New England Patriots Edition

Josh McCainSenior Writer IMay 2, 2011

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to pass during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

I'm not going to knock the New England Patriots for the way they run their franchise. Quite frankly, they've been one of the best-run teams in all of sports.

However, I am getting a little tired of hearing the talking heads on ESPN go gaga over Bill Belichick and his ability to trade for more draft picks.

The Patriots had two first-round picks (the Raiders' No. 17 and their own No. 28), and in true Patriot style, instead of drafting a much needed running back like Mark Ingram, the Pats traded their first-round pick to the Saints

Granted, they did use the pick from the Raiders on offensive lineman Nate Solder, but they had a chance late to grab another weapon for quarterback Tom Brady and chose to trade away the pick.

It's hard to say you're not going to knock the Patriots franchise and then complain about their drafting but I don't believe Bilichick's way is helping to make the Patriots better.

More or less, it's keeping them where they are.

After winning three Super Bowls the Patriots put a premium on youth, especially blue-collar, hard-working young players. They've traded away or simply released older veteran players with the notion that their system works and the players, with the noted exception of Tom Brady, can be plugged in and out at will.

When the team went 16-0 before falling just short of the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl, it appeared that this particular system was working.

However, the Pats seemed to have plateaued and their division rival, the brash and cocky New York Jets, have caught them.

In fact, as we end the 2011 draft, the two rivals who faced off in last years divisional round of the AFC playoffs seem to have two distinctive offseason styles.

The Patriots look for young, solid guy and draft in quantity, while the Jets aren't shy to trade up and grab the players they want.  Nor are they shy at signing older free agents, a no-no in New England).

Like I said, the Patriots way of doing things seemed fine for a while, but with this mentality they have yet to win a Super Bowl and the Jets have caught and perhaps even surpassed them.

The Patriots are a solid team with good depth, but with their four picks in the first two rounds of the 2012 draft, they may want to look for some home run guys instead of constantly trading back and hoarding picks.

After all, eventually Tom Brady is going to get old and not perform at Brady-like levels. With him gone, they'll need more then just Ryan Mallett; they'll need some other big time weapons to fill the void.