Checking out Patriots' early draft tendencies

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Checking out Patriots' early draft tendencies

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

Every draft season until 2008, I could say with great certainty that the Patriots don't draft linebackers early. They converted players to the position (Tedy Bruschi) or signed savvy, veteran (Rosevelt Colvin, Junior Seau, Monty Beisel - oop!) free agents. And the history bore that out. From 2000 when they took Casey Tisdale in the seventh round, the linebacker draftees went as follows: T.J. Turner (7th, 2001), Ryan Claridge (5th, 2005), Justin Rogers (6th, 2007), Oscar Lua (7th, 2007). But since then, they've gone on a linebacker jag.In 2008, they took Jerod Mayo with the 10th overall pick, added Tyrone McKenzie with a third-rounder in 2009 then took Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham in the second round last year.What to make of that development? How about this:As muchas the Patriots speak of taking the best available player at a spot, or tradingdown from that spot if the best player available isn't a fit, they very much do draft for need. The Patriots didn't take linebackers from 2001 through 2008 because they had a cadre of excellent ones - Ted Johnson, Bruschi, Roman Phifer, Vrabel, McGinest. When the cupboard went bare, they moved to fill it. So as we look at where the Patriots might go in 2010, we have to ask ourselves two things - where are they getting old andor thin? Where is this draft deeply stocked? They are oldthin on the offensive line. Getting there on the defensive line (Wilfork, Warren, Stroud). This draft is deep at DEOLB, fairly deep at both defensive and offensive line. So don't be surprised if this year, the Patriots buck a trend of not drafting offensive linemen very early (one first rounder, three second rounders since 2000) and try to collect a few. Here are the Patriots tendencies over the first three rounds since Bill Belichick has been head coach. FIRST ROUND
Defensive end: 2 (Richard Seymour, Ty Warren)Tight end: 2 (Daniel Graham, Ben Watson)Nose tackle: 1 (Vince Wilfork)Guard: 1 (Logan Mankins)Running back: 1 (Laurence Maroney)Linebacker: 1 (Jerod Mayo)Cornerback: 1 (Devin McCourty)Safety: 1 (Brandon Meriweather)SECOND ROUNDTackle:2 (Sebastian Vollmer, Matt Light)Wide Receiver: 2 (Deion Branch, Chad Jackson)Safety: 2(Eugene Wilson, Patrick Chung) Linebacker: 2 (Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes)Cornerback: 2 (Terrence Wheatley, Darius Butler)Defensive end: 1 (Marquise Hill)Tight end: 1 (Rob Gronkowski) Guard: 1 (Adrian Klemm)THIRD ROUNDCornerback:2 (Brock Williams, Ellis Hobbs)Linebacker: 2(Shawn Crable, Tyrone McKenzie)Wide receiver:2 (Brandon Tate, Taylor Price)Quarterback: 1(Kevin O'Connell)Tackle: 1 (Nick Kaczur)Safety: 1 (Guss Scott)Running Back: 1 (J.R. Redmond)Where the Patriots have drafted and the personnel already on the roster have no doubt impacted their selections greatly. Still, it's fascinating to me that the first corner they ever spent a first-round pick on was Devin McCourty. And that they've never spent a first-rounder on a wideout oran offensive tackle. Or a pick in the first two rounds on a quarterback (thanks, Tom Brady!). They've not taken a center in the first three rounds since Belichick's been here. And one lonely little guard all the way back in 2000 (Adrian Klemm). There are assumptions that can be made from these tendencies, certainly. The wide receiver trend seems an almost hard and fast rule. But - as with Mayo - once it seems you've got their thinking figured out, the Patriots change. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Rex Ryan’s erratic act is his lone consistency

Rex Ryan’s erratic act is his lone consistency

With the Bills 0-2 and sinking slowly in a morass of dysfunction last week, Rex Ryan was anything but his corny, wise-cracking, false-bravado-bringing self. He was subdued before the Bills took on the Cardinals.

Now, with the Bills having spanked Arizona and the Patriots up next, Rex is back at it with the erratic, putting forth an eyebrow-raisingly bad Bill Belichick impersonation to start the week then parachuting into a conference call with Julian Edelman posing as a Buffalo News reporter.

He’s the guy at the house party knocking over the chips and drinks at 9 p.m. and wondering where the motherscratching karaoke machine is because he wants to SING!!

Asked to account for the behavior change from last week to this, Rex’ verbatim response was a look into his addled mind.

“I was still myself, I think just part of it. This week, look guys, we know who we’re playing. When you look at the ESPN deal, I think they’re ranked number one---I don’t know. Like I said, they’re number two, but I don’t think we’re ranked number one so---look, we know the task is going to be a big one. The quarterback thing, yeah you got to be prepared and you actually have to be prepared for three different guys. They’re no dummies, they’re leaving it out there, they can know who it is, I get it. They’re certainly not going to do us any favors.”

Give that a quick re-read.

My verbal syntax and wandering trains of thought aren’t evidence of an ordered mind either, so I do empathize with Rex. But neither am I the head coach of one of 32 entries in the NFL, a pretty high-profile league in which an ordered presentation from the guy in charge is usually a positive.

I spoke at length with Tim Graham – who really does work for the Buffalo News – during our Quick Slants Podcast this week.

Rex’ constant insistence on his own authenticity feels to me like a misdirection. He chooses who he’s going to be and how he’s going to be each week. That’s the only consistent thing about him, other than the fact that he is an eminently likable guy specifically because he is so vulnerable.

 For a guy that wants to projecting an image of a guy who just doesn’t give a s***, he spends a lot of time thinking about this stuff.  

“I learned a long time ago, you got to be yourself in this league and that [acting like Bill Belichick] wouldn’t have worked,” Ryan explained. “If I tried to be like Bill Belichick that would never work for me, just like, not that he ever would, but if he’s going to try to be like somebody else, that ain’t going to work for him. And so, at least one thing we have in common is the fact that we know you better be yourself in this league and look, I think it’s hilarious when he’s on there because that’s who he is but it’s great and he does it better than anybody else. Some guys that try to copy that style, they’re phonies. Belichick does it, that’s who he is. [Gregg] Popovich is probably the closest thing in the NBA. Like those guys are classics but that’s who they are and they’re fantastic and I think the record speaks for itself but you talk about a consistent guy, Bill Belichick is the most consistent guy there is and I try to be consistent, albeit in a much different way.”

Consistent in his inconsistency. Great fun at parties. No way to go through life as an NFL head coach.

 

Patriots have perfect attendance at Thursday walkthrough

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Patriots have perfect attendance at Thursday walkthrough

FOXBORO -- The Patriots opted to have a walkthrough on Thursday, an in-season rarity for Bill Belichick's club. 

The low-key session makes sense, though. Because the team practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, it will still have two practices under its belt, as it usually does every week. Now, instead of having just one walkthrough on a Friday, as the Patriots do typically, they'll have had two. 

All players were present for the on-the-field work, including quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. Members of the media were only able to watch the team walk onto the field, and they were treated to a fashion show of sorts. Bill Belichick stood out with his hooded sweatshirt, as did Jamie Collins, who for some reason wore plastic bags around his gloves. Practice squad defensive lineman Geneo Grissom brought a bit of a business casual look to the field, sporting a collared shirt under his sweatshirt.