Waters: New England's 'as good as it gets'

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Waters: New England's 'as good as it gets'

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - He didn't have to go to a single training camp practice. Didn't have to play in any meaningless preseason games. He's shown up in New England a week before the opener and is ready to be plugged in at right guard and be paid a couple million. No wonder newly acquired Brian Waters said on Monday, "I think this is as good as it gets."Waters, a five-time Pro Bowler with Kansas City met with media in the Patriots locker room Monday. He said the same things that every newly-signed Patriot says. Great organization. Great coaching. Great opportunity. When a guy shows up and says, "I think I made a mistake coming here" then we'll have a story. More relevant than Waters' happiness is whether or not he is A) in good enough condition to step right in and play guard in the heat of South Florida in one week and B) able to easily transition from the left side of the offensive line where he's always played to the right. Asked about his conditioning, Waters said, "You should probably ask me that question tomorrow (after he's gone through a practice)."Does he believe he'll be ready to play in a week? "That's what I'm preparing for," he answered. "That's what everybody in here has been preparing for."They, of course, have been preparing for it since July 28. Waters, at 34, has been idle. The biggest concern has to be his health. Even though he's missed just three games in his career, will Waters be able to go at the necessary level. The signing of Waters was necessitated by injuries to Dan Connolly and Rich Ohrnberger at right guard. Now Waters is preparing to step in on the side he's not familiar with. To some players, like Patriots' left tackle Matt Light, that kind of switch has been difficult. For others, like rookie tackle Nate Solder and third-year man Sebastian Vollmer, it hasn't been. Waters made it sound like it's not a big deal. "You just have to flip everything in your mind when you've been doing something for a long time, but I don't think it'll take me a long time to get it," said Waters. Which is good. Because he doesn't have a long time. Waters will wear Tedy Bruschi's old number, 54. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Breer on Brady-Garoppolo: I don't think this is a Bill [Belichick] decision

Breer on Brady-Garoppolo: I don't think this is a Bill [Belichick] decision

Mike Felger and Bert Breer discuss a transition of quarterbacks between Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, and when or if a move would happen.

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.