Patriots sitting pretty with 33rd pick

Patriots sitting pretty with 33rd pick
February 24, 2011, 5:27 pm
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By Tom E. Curran

INDIANAPOLIS - In 1995, USC quarterback Rob Johnson slipped down the draft board and out of the first day of the draft. From the time Round 3 ended until the start of Round 4 the next day, the Jacksonville Jaguar were inundated with offers for that 99th pick. Everybody wanted Johnson. An enviable spot for the Jags, who - in the end - stayed put and drafted Johnson. The Patriots couldthis year find themselves in a situation similar to the Jags. And don't be surprised if they make a move. Thanks to a deal last year with the Carolina Panthers, New England holds the first pick in the second round (33rd overall). And with the first round on Thursday and Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday night, teams will have all day to drool over prospects that slipped out of the first round. "Anytime you have the first pick in any new day it's a valuable pick," confirmed Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Even more valuable when it's the second round in a deep draft.NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock has said he believes there are nine defensive endoutside linebackers with first round grades. It's unlikely they're all going to go, so some team is going to see extreme value in trying to get that first crack at the board on Friday night. And the Patriots love to deal down and add picks. Add that fact to the reality they pick 17th and 28th in the first round and won't be jonesing for a selection at that point. The revised format instituted last year so that the draft could be on in prime time on Thursday and Friday nights has been roundly praised."I thought it was very positive," Ireland said when asked about the change. "I wasn't that positive about it going into it but I felt it worked out well. I didn't reset the board but I did rethink some things based on the way things shook out. It gave me more time to prepare and strategize alittle more. I liked the format."The Patriots areloving it.

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