Conspiracies don't bother Belichick

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Conspiracies don't bother Belichick

Were officially 10 days into the Patriots season, and over those 10 days, weve been inundated with no fewer than 10 times as many theories on whats going on with Wes Welker.

Yes. Thats 100 theories. And yes, thats probably a low estimate.

The best part? No one has a clue. No one has the slightest clue. Its left us all utterly confused, angry and desperate for answers. In turn, its led to a level of wildly creative, conspiracy-fueled speculation usually reserved for the likes of JFK, Jimmy Hoffa, Jamie Lee Curtiss gender, John Claytons ponytail and Marilyn Manson's true identity.

Did you hear the one about the Pats benching Welker on Sunday so that he wouldnt break Troy Browns record before the halftime HOF ceremony?

Did you hear the one about how this entire controversy is a Trojan Horse designed to blindside the Ravens on Sunday night?

Did you hear that Wes slept with LeBron James mom?

On one hand, its so frustrating to not know the truth. We not just as football fans, but also as human beings hate not knowing the truth. And every season, on at least a few occasions, Bill Belichick becomes that proverbial annoying kid on the playground: I know something you dont know and Im not gonna tellllll you. (Only if that kid was hopped up on enough depressants to paralyze a rhino). Every season, it drives us nuts. And every season, we eventually fall back into the same desperate routine.

OK, this has gone too far. Belichick NEEDS to speak up. He NEEDS to explain himself. Hes making it worse. Hes only fueling speculation. Hes making this a bigger deal than it needs to be and its hurting the team.

Most of the time, we can even convince ourselves that this is true.

But its not. No matter how we try to rationalize Belichick's need to break the silence, he doesn't need to do anything. More importantly, he wont do anything. Has Belichick ever cared about speculation? Has he ever worried about public perception? Has he ever felt that whats going on out here has any effect on whats going on in there?

IGNORE THE NOISE.

Thats the sign that stares every member of that organization in the face every time they walk in and out the Patriots facility. And it's not just a suggestion. It's an order, a mantra, a way of life and the only way that Belichick cares to go about his business.

Bottom Line: He knows what's going on with Welker. Josh McDaniels knows whats going on with Welker. Welker knows whats going on with Welker (or at least he finds out a few minutes before kickoff). As far as Belichick's concerned, the people who need to know already know. Everything else? Just noise. So, they're going to ignore it. Regardless of how twisted our collective panties become over the issue.

But of course, in situations like this, there are conspiracies and there are realities. And as the Patriots prepare for this weekend's trip to Baltimore, and do so looking to avoid their first 1-2 start in more than a decade, there are a few realities that Belichick and McDaniels need to, and, we can only assume, will come to grips with.

Namely, this one: Julian Edelman is not Wes Welker.

Has Edelman made significant strides as a receiver? Sure, though it wouldn't have taken much. Did he have the most impressive and productive summer this side of Miguel Cabrera? Sure, if they say so. Does he have a future as a legitimate NFL receiver? We'll see.

But for now, there's no conspiracy or speculation necessary to explain the undeniable fact that in terms of this Sunday night, on the road against the Ravens, with Aaron Hernandez on the sidelines in a sweat suit or at home on his couch the more we see of Wes Welker, the more likely the Pats are to come out on top.

The less we see of him, the less convinced we'll be that all this commotion is in the name what's best for the team.

And the conspiracies will live to see another week.

Might as well start working on some good ones in advance.

Did you hear that Belichick took a flyer on Edelman in the last round of his Wesleyan alum fantasy draft?

Did you hear that Welker's actually Paul from The Wonder Years?!

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Four-player draft class an indication of Patriots confidence in roster

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Four-player draft class an indication of Patriots confidence in roster

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had only 50 to 75 players on their draft board. From that group they took only four this weekend: Youngstown State edge defender Derek Rivers, Troy tackle Antonio Garcia, Arkansas defensive end Deatrich Wise and UCLA tackle Conor McDermott. 

What are we to gather from that? Does that miniscule class -- the smallest in team history -- mean this was a particularly shallow pool of talent?

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio seemed to indicate otherwise about a week before the draft during a press conference.

"Look, there's good football players top to bottom, I would say, across positions," he said."Our job is to find the ones that fit for us. The reality is, look, there are some players that fit. There’s some players that don’t. In the end, we end up with 50 to 75 players that we would draft from top to bottom. That’s a small number, but that’s where we end up."

That explanation seemed to be a sign that maybe Caserio, Bill Belichick and their staff felt as though there weren't many players in this class who could compete for spots on what was was a talent-laden roster well ahead of draft weekend. There were good players scattered throughout the class, as Caserio said, but maybe only 50 to 75 were good enough to challenge for jobs in New England.  

Boston Sports Tonight's Michael Holley -- whose book War Room followed closely the draft strategies of the Patriots, Chiefs and Falcons in 2011 -- said something interesting on CSN two weeks ago once Caserio let it be known that the Patriots draft board was looking relatively small. Holley believed the number of names on the draft board was a sign that the Patriots felt very good about their team before they were even on the clock to make a pick.

Because the Patriots will put names of their own players on their draft board, comparing them to potential draftees who might compete with them at a certain position, pegging only a limited number of players as "draftable" may mean that many of the veteran names already on the roster were unlikely to be leapfrogged by rookies.

It was an interesting point. In retrospect, it highlights the fact that this draft probably wasn't devoid of talent. But it may have been short on talent that could "fit" in New England -- or realistically make the 2017 Patriots. 

One area in the draft where the Patriots seemed to believe in its depth? Perhaps the team's most obvious area of need: Edge defender. 

The Patriots had just three established defensive ends on the roster going into the draft in Rob Ninkovich, Trey Flowers and Kony Ealy. Ninkovich, 33, is going into a contract season. Ealy is in the final year of his rookie deal and has never played a snap in New England. 

The Patriots had several options on the edge with their first pick at No. 72 overall. Kansas State's Jordan Willis, Texas A&M's Daeshon Hall, Alabama's Tim Williams, Auburn's Carl Lawson and Ohio's Tarell Basham were all on the board . . . yet they traded back. 

As ESPN's Mike Reiss suggested Sunday, that deal could have been the result of a player the Patriots liked -- like defensive end Dawuane Smoot of Illinois -- coming come off the board just before No. 72. Maybe they wanted to regroup and trade back to buy themselves time to make a choice they felt confident in.

But it also could have been a case where they had a handful of edge players on their board graded similarly, and they wanted to pick up some draft capital by moving down the board without sacrificing much in the way of talent. 

They ended up with Rivers, who some believe has the ability to be a top-end pass-rusher and would have been taken much higher had he played for a program in a power-five conference. Then they hung tight at No. 131 in the fourth round and found another added layer of depth for the edge in Wise, who in some ways looks like Chandler Jones when Jones was a rookie in 2012.

Whether or not the they thought of this year's draft as "deep" throughout? That's debatable. That they liked the look of their roster going into the weekend before making a pick is not.

Unconventional NFL draft grades

Unconventional NFL draft grades

Miss the draft because you were watching other sports (or literally doing anything else)? We've got you covered. 

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