I think the first thing to realize is that this draft was widely viewed as being a depth building draft, with play makers being in short supply - only 5 skill position players were taken in the 1st round - this fact tends to support the premise - it is clear that the Patriots viewed the draft as a depth building draft
For all of you pooping all over this draft - can you name for me the players that either the Ravens or 49ers drafted last year that were they key to getting them into the SB?
RESPONSE: An artful choice of words here...in limiting the scope of players drafted by the Ravens and 49ers to just last year. In the 2011 draft, the 9ers added DE Aldon Smith, and starting QB Colin Kaepernick. In 2011, the Ravens added starting CB Jimmy Smith, starting deep threat WR, Torrey Smith, and, in 2012, added starting OG Kelechi Osemele. They also added WRs Anquan Boldin and Jacobi Jones, through free agency.
I have been as disappointed as anyone in the Pats losing the SB 2 seasons ago and losing in the AFC title last year - but to be honest, these losses were due to flaws the Pats were known to have going in:
1. The Patriots have lacked the ability to legitimately threaten the outside and deep parts of the field since Randy Moss left
2. The Patriots pass D has struggled for several seasons in getting off the field in key situations
IMO - the Patriots lost the Jets Playoff game in 2011 and the AFC title game in January due largely to the Patriots inability to threaten the outside of the field - those teams had D's that could bottle up middle of the field - the Patriots failed to or were unable to adjust - they lost
The Patriots lost the SB to the Giants due to their porous pass D - they simply couldn't get the stops they needed to win the game
So - how do they address in this draft? - They draft a linebacker who projects as being very effective in pass coverage(the biggest weakness in the otherwise solid Patriots LB corps), they draft a big, fast, smart WR, they draft a solid 2-3 CB prospect, a safety who likes to hit(something the Pats lack now that Chung is gone), they draft another WR - one who can create matchup challenges due to his potential to play outside due to his size, and the slot due to his feet - they trade a 7th and a dead asset to get a RB 2 seasons removed from a 1000 yd season, and 2 7th round picks, one of whom has real upside ( Michael Buchanan)
So, whether you are excited about the particular players that the Patriots drafted, it seems impossible to criticize their attempts to address areas of clear need
RESPONSE: Sorry...but your "hard hitting safety", Harmon, had no business being selected at pick #91. This marks two years in a row now that BB has used a high draft choice to reach for a safety.
I think it is also worth mentioning that the Patriots started the draft with significant money left under the cap, and will not be saddled with any very expensive contracts from the draft - this should leave them in a positon to continue to address areas of need(pass rush, OL depth) post draft - when the 2nd round of team cuts start happening as other teams have to trim payroll to sign THEIR picks - The Patriots have had success in the past picking up good players in situations like this
RESPONSE: Good point.
So TP - there is some reason for optimism - the Pats as contructed last year were good enough to be in AFC title game last year, and were clearly the better team in the 1st half without the best current player on their roster not named Brady ( Gronk) - they did this with a largely re-tooled D who should get better this year with experience - I personally felt the Pats looked better on D after they acquired Talib then they had since 2008
Count me as a fan who wasn't looking for a savior from the draft - and its a long way til training camp in the summer - and the have lots of roster spots - let's see how they fill the team out before training camping before taking a schizz on this season
RESPONSE: Thanks. I enjoyed reading your excellent post!