By TomE. Curran
FOXBORO - The Patriots final pick of Friday night was a dice roll - quarterback Ryan Mallett, a quarterbackfrom an Arkansas with a checkered past. They took a chance again with their first pick Saturday, drafting massive offensive guard Marcus Cannon out of TCU, a young man with an uncertain future. Just two days after the 358-pounder began treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma (read more about this form of cancer here), the Patriots made him the 138th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. On one hand, it's magnanimous and a story that warms the heart. The Patriots take a chance on a kid every other teambacked away from.On the other hand, it's an opportunistic and shrewd business. In Cannon, the Patriots have a kid viewed as a possible top 50 pick until health issues came to light. If he recovers, they have a player with second-round value picked up in the fifth round. Buy low, sell high. I guess it can be both. And there's no doubting that Cannon - like Mallett - wins because he's joining one of the most stable organizations in the NFL with a sensible, good-hearted coach and very generous owners. Cannon will get all the time he needs. And when he's ready he'll be fired into the offensive line mix and given a chance to compete at guard. Could be a guy who unseats Dan Connolly. Could be the successor to Logan Mankins. But that will all wait until after the health issues sort themselves out. Saturday, Cannon said he didn't feel washed out from the chemo treatment he'd gotten. "God's blessed me," he said. "I haven't had any of the symptoms of my treatment that I was supposed to have."
As for when he'll be ready for football, Cannon replied, "I'm just taking my treatment day-by-day, and whenever I'm done with my treatment is when I get to go play football."And then there's Smith. You know it's not an NFL Draft until the Patriots take a tight end. They've done that. Kicked out of Tennessee in 2006 after a DUI arrest, he transferred to Marshall and - apparently found himself. He's a two-time team captain and became a vocal and compelling The 6-6, 266-pounder is going to be a Gronkowski understudy even though he turns 24 in November and Gronk turns 22 in May. He's not going to catch gobs of passes but between Aaron Hernandez, Alge Crumpler, Gronk and Smith, there's a good mix of hands, speed and excellent blocking power. Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran