Well, if that wasn't a Bizarro World Draft, I don't know what is? I actually thought the Pats were going to Draft in the First Round. I thought the Oakland Raiders where a professional Franchise, their picks are no longer funny, just sad. The Jets actually make a great move and trade up 12 spots to grab their new franchise QB. And Cleveland suddenly is drafting like Jimmy Johnson is running their War Room. And sudden BB, or rather Super-Bill, is a super suave media friendly information magnet? Another aspect of the Draft that I think was grossly overrated was how many impact players people thought the Pats were going to get in this Draft. I mean I thought their were really only three positions were the team could realistically Draft a starter: ILB, S, and ORT. Other than those three position what rookie was going to take a starting position form all the veterans on this team?
Okay, what did we learn? their were four main topics that we learned from yesterdays picks. First, Jason Taylor has a verbal agreement with Bizarro-Bill to play for the Pats this season. Trading out of the 1st round for extra picks, when you already had to many picks was a cost saving move. They are about 5 million under the Cap, including Draft pick compensation and clean up money. Trading out of the 1st round puts them over 5 million remaining rather than less than 5 million remaining. How much on either side I don't really know, but they saved hundreds of thousands of Cap-dollars by trading out of the 1st Round. That is only significant if you have a verbal agreement with a veteran who doesn't want to join your team until July or August for around 3 million in Cap-dollars. Plus, if you include the two trade downs, they past on OLB Conner Barwin and OLB Everette Brown four times. They could have had either player or both players if they felt they needed a Right OLB/ That's right I said Right, because Taylor will be playing Right OLB, and Adalius Thomas will switch back over to the Left side. I just don't see any other way to read the Bizarro behavior of Bizarro-Bill other than to say, "YES! We got Jason Taylor!"
The Second thing we learned is that Vince Wilfork may be an endangered species in BB's new Bizarro world. I said before the Draft that is BB drafts Ron Brace in the 1st Round that he doesn't think he can sign Wilfork. Remember, BB has been negotiating with Wilfork agent for the past few months. He knows exactly what they are looking for, and maybe how much lower the price might be. I have been saying for months that the worse signing in the off season for the Pats was the Albert Haynesworth signing. If Wilfork's agent thinks that is a good place to start negotiating that is trouble. If Wilfork's agent thinks that is the ending spot for negotiations than Wilfork will not be on this team after this season. And in truth, what could the Pats do except give them what they want. They had no viable back up at NT, and thus no leverage in negotiations. The had no alternatives to Wilfork playing NT. I have said for the past few years the Vince is the most valuable D-Lineman on the Pats roster. Not because I think he is that much better than Seymour and Warren, but because they have no viable back up to Vince. Mike Wright, Jarvis Green, and Le Kevin Smith make Warren and Seymour less indispensable to the team then Vince. All three are viable options at D-End, and Wright, who I think is a very good player, is not a very good option at NT. He is the main back up NT, but if he had to play NT fulltime it would not be pretty. Without Vince the defense would be significantly weakened. BB knew that. Vince new that, and I can guarantee you Vince's agent was counting on that. Now, the Pats suddenly have a viable option at Nose Tackle. If Vince wants "One hundred, Miill-ion dollars" (please say in the voice of Dr. Evil;-), the Pats can simply say no. The Ron Brace pick was a great selection in everyway possible. It give the Pats Vince insurance. It gives the pats real leverage in the Vince negotiations. It gives the Pats a real back up at NT for next season, and it gives the Pats a legit starter in 2010 if Vince leaves. Remember, Vince has a history of personally eating himself into a sumo-sized NT, and he has a family history of deadly diabetes that you have to take into consideration. Believe me I know, I am a diet controlled diabetic, and it is no joke. The Pats saved more than a few million in Cap-dollars with the Brace pick. Because either Vince won't be resigned for an exurbanite amount of Cap-dollars, or his price tag just got reduced by a large amount.
The third thing we learned is that BB likes Gary Guyton a lot more than I thought. Including the two times they traded down they passed on Maualaga and Laurinaitis 3 times. This means that BB feels secure with Gary Guyton and Tedy Bruschi manning the pot next to Mayo. I love Tedy Bruschi, but he is no longer a super impact player at inside LB. He had no Sacks, no Interceptions, no FF, FR, and 1 PBU. He is strictly an tackler now. Either BB thinks Guyton can start, or he is looking at a later round ILB like Jasper Brinkley to come in and help. Either way Guyton's role will be significantly upgraded next season, and Bruschi's role will be lowered. Coming into the Draft I thought they needed a starter to replace Bruschi at ILB, I thought they needed a starter to replace Nick Kaczur, and they needed a viable third Safety who could come in and hopefully wrench the starting job from the forever slowing James Sanders. Other than that all the picks looked to me like they were going for back up positions. I thought an OLB would be nice, but a rookie wasn't going to start over Crable and Pierre Woods, never mind Jason Taylor. It just wasn't going to happen. I thought they also needed a starter/replacement for Billy Yates, the main back up for Stephen Neal, who always seems injured, and when he is injured the O-Line seemed to fall apart.
The forth things I learned is that this new media friendly Bizarro-Bill just makes me nervous. I liked it when Bill was the great grumpy ogre who lived in a knoll under Foxboro, and he only growled at the media and hissed at their questions like they were gnats swarming his face. Now Bizarro-Bill smiles at them with that uncomfortable crooked cannibal-smile, like he is happy to see them because he is about to put them in a nice media stew. First, he gives a Combine Press Conference? Then he does interviews on 4 or 5 stations in April? Right before the Draft? Than word leaks out of Belichick's Bunker that the player they want is Larry English, and another interpretation for not taking an OLB/Passrusher (besides Jason Taylor), is that once English was gone BB thought he was the only OLB who could make this team this year so he just kept trading down. Either way, I don't like it. It is time to get some Kryptonite and kill Bizarro-Bill and get our old super grumpy ogre back. Oh wait! Kryptonite will just make Bizarro-Bill stronger. Damn, foiled again!
Okay time to put on my Mr. Pat Homer hat and actually discuss the picks. I loved the first three picks, and liked the 4th. Vollmer was clearly a reach, but Kaczur is in the final year of his contract and I can't see BB bringing him back. If BB is right about Vollmer, and his history of ORT says he is not, than Vollmer will be the starting ORT in 2010. I really like Patrick Chung. I didn't have the Pats taking him because I got caught in the Saban affiliation trap. I was certain they were going to take Rashard Johnson. However, Chung is a better Strong Safety prospect the Johnson, and will pair better with Meriweather. Here is my profile of Chung. I also loved the Ron Brace pick, for more reason than I profiled above. He is an immovable object right in the middle of the line of scrimmage. I had him rated as my top Nose Tackle prospect, before the Draft. I had B.J Raji and Ziggy Hood rated as higher prospects, but I saw them more as DT/NT than as pure a pure NT. I had Ron Brace rated as my 34th best prospect on my Player Ratings page. I like to put players in the slot that the Pats are drafting that I like, but don't necessarily think the Pats are going to take them. I had Darius Butler rated number 23, the slot of the Pats 1st round pick before the Draft, and Brace at 34, the slot of the Pats first 2nd round pick. I am very proud of that! Here is my profile of Ron Brace. Here is my profile of Darius Butler Butler. Here is my profile of ORT Sebastian Vollmer.