The draft is like Christmas Day for the NFL’s ravenous fans. Hope springs eternal with the influx of talent.
But if you’re a Patriots fan, one that has watched the team go Super Bowl title-less the past eight seasons (the gall of them), you watched the draft for 3 hours 18 minutes for New England to get on the clock, and then trade the selection to the Vikings for four picks: Nos. 52 (second round), 83 (third), 102 (fourth), and 229 (seventh).
What a lump of coal. To go on top of the vanilla ice cream of Danny Amendola, Adrian Wilson, and Donald Jones Patriots fans received during free agency. Don’t expect CBS honcho Les Moonves to be handing over prime-time programming duties to his buddy, Robert Kraft, any time soon.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins loaded up with Mike Wallace, Brent Grimes, Dustin Keller, Philip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe, and Brandon Gibson in free agency. And then they traded up to the third overall pick and landed pass rusher Dion Jordan to put on the other side of Cameron Wake.
We’ll just have to see how that ends up on the field.
But, yes, Patriots fans, I feel your frustration. I just haven’t bought into it. Yet.
Let’s see what happens Friday with the second and third rounds, when the Patriots hold two picks in each round, before we all go off the deep end.
Yeah, you wanted action in the first round. But the truth is, most drafts don’t have 32 players with first-round grades. And this one was worse than most. I mean, six offensive linemen in the first 11 selections? And Florida State’s E.J. Manuel, who is a bit of a project, the only quarterback taken, with the 16th pick by the Bills?
That just tells you what kind of stinker the first round was.
So why would you take a player in the first round that is, at best, worth a second-round pick?
It doesn’t matter where you pick. It matters if you get good players. Let’s see if the Patriots get good players.
There are definitely talented players left that can help the Patriots.
At receiver, the three likely first-rounders were taken: Tavon Austin (West Virginia), DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson), and Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee).
That leaves talented targets such as Keenan Allen (Cal), Markus Wheaton (Oregon State), Robert Woods (Southern Cal), Justin Hunter (Tennessee), Terrance Williams (Baylor), Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech), Aaron Dobson (Marshall), and many others.
If the Patriots take two receivers that work out like tight ends Rob Gronkowski (42d overall pick) and Aaron Hernandez (113d) did in 2010, would anybody complain?
But, yes, it’s true that the further you get away from the first round, the lower the chances a rookie receiver will contribute. And if Patterson turns out to be a stud — and taken with their pick (Greg Jennings anyone?) — the natives will be riotous.
There are plenty of defensive linemen, such as Tank Carradine (Florida State), Alex Okafor (Texas), Johnathan Hankins (Ohio State), Kawann Short (Purdue), Jesse Williams (Alabama), John Jenkins (Georgia), and Margus Hunt (SMU).
And there are several possible contributors left in the secondary, such as Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay (Mississippi State), Jamar Taylor (Boise State), Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwayne Gratz (UConn), D.J. Swearinger (South Carolina), Jonathan Cyprien (FIU), Philip Thomas (Fresno State), David Amerson (N.C. State), and Tyrann Mathieu (ex-LSU).
Before the trade, the Patriots could have had two of those players that had actual value in the second and third rounds. After the trade, they can get four (wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots end up packaging a few picks and target one or two players in the second round — sort of like the Chandler Jones/Dont’a Hightower double from last year, just in the second round).
Again, it only matters if they get good players. And the Patriots haven’t always executed that strategy — especially if they keep all the picks.
Just look at the 2009 draft. The Patriots had four second-round picks, and two more in the third round. They drafted Patrick Chung, Ron Brace, Darius Butler, Sebastian Vollmer, Brandon Tate, and Tyrone McKenzie.
Not only is Vollmer the only player still on the team, he’s the only one who wasn’t a colossal disappointment.
So, if the Patriots turn this trade into 2009 revisited, fans absolutely were right to be frustrated and angry.
But if the Patriots knock it out of the park, no one will remember how many objects they threw at the television at 11:18 p.m.
Let’s see how it plays out.Greg A. Bedard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @gregabedard.