By Tom E. Curran
We've got one round of the 2011 NFL Draft in the books, we've got previously locked-out players showing up to work while another shoe still has to drop, we've got a loaded draft board, and the Patriots with a bounty of picks. Let's get after it right quick with some quick hits. 1. Wide Surprise from Pioli, DimitroffMidway through the 2001 season, I asked Bill Belichick in the Patriots locker room why he took Richard Seymour instead of David Terrell. "Who's been the best rookie receiver?" he asked me. The answer? Chris Chambers. A second-round pick by the Dolphins that year. "You can get good receivers throughout the draft," he said to me. Belichick's lived to that credo, never once taking a wideout with a first-round pick in his New England tenure. Last night, two of his former lieutenants strayed from that credo. And Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff did so in a landmark way. Dimitroff gave up everything but Mrs. Arthur Blank to get a chance at Alabama receiver Julio Jones at No. 6. The bounty? The Falcons first, second and fourth-round picks this year and their first and fourth-rounders next year. Meanwhile, Pioli grabbed 6-4, 228-pound Pitt receiver Jonathan Baldwin with the 26th overall pick in the first round. Explosiveness was the key reason in both these moves. Hopefully for both Pioli and especially Dimitroff, it doesn't blow up in their faces. 2. Waging PeaceMy frequent email buddy Jay Kelleher points out that, if the Patriots deal the 33rd pick Friday night, they could grab another second-rounder and even a first and a third in next year's draft. Think about that for a second. Even if they don't get the extra third, they'll definitely get the first based on the desperation of teams wanting to get one of the remaining QB's or a crack at the talent in the front-seven that remains. And that puts the Patriots in position to have three first-round picks in a season when the rookie wage scale enters. Quality, comfort and price. That's nice. 3.Moderate TurnoutA source told me that "three or four" Patriots showed up first thing Friday morning to work out and take advantage of the lifted lockout. More hadreported and been in the facility throughout the day. So it was short of a throng, more than a couple. 4. Turn Out the Light?Does the drafting of Nate Solder equal the end of stalwart left tackle Matt Light's tenure in New England? I don't think it has to be that way. Light is a free agent. He played well in 2010 but, at 33, who is going to make him a three-year offer? If the Patriots re-sign him to a two-year deal, he can ease Solder's transition to the NFL. This isn't to say Solder can't start right away. But why would the Patriots want to put themselves in dire need if Solder either gets hurt or is slow to grasp things? Left tackle's kind of an important spot. I'd expect Light to be retained. 5. James Carpenter?! First Round?!
In 2010, the Gronk Stomp was a highlight of draft weekend. This year, I'm liking Nick Saban's reaction to the selection of Alabama tackle James Carpenter by the Seahawks with the 25th pick.Seconds after Roger Goodell announced Carpenter,NFL Network's cameras found Saban who said, "James Carpenter went in the first round?" Ahead shake followed. Meanwhile,across the table, Mark Ingram's eyes grew wide as saucers. The great thing about Saban's reaction was that he was able to offend both Carpenter AND the Seahawks scouting, personnel and coaching staffs in one fell swoop.Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.
By Tom E. Curran