FOXBOROUGH – You probably were hoping the Patriots would cave to the closeness of a sexy selection and pick one of the fantastic wide receivers tumbling down the draft board in the first round.
Nope. Not now, not ever. Instead, history and precedence won out again with the Patriots trading down for the 16th time under Bill Belichick's tutelage, his 51st draft-day trade with the team.
The Patriots traded No. 29 to the Minnesota Vikings for four picks, Nos. 52 (second round), 83 (third), 102 (fourth, from Detroit), and 229 (seventh). The Vikings ended up picking Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson at that position.
But there's no reason to be disappointed. Luckily for the Patriots, this was a depressed draft board that was begging for some of Belichick's second-round magic. The options at wide receiver are still sexy enough to satisfy the fan base, and the Patriots have enough clout with eight picks remaining to move up and grab someone they may really want.
So who could that be? Well let's take a look at three receivers still available and worth the attention.
1. Robert Woods, USC – Great production in college and an amazing ability to turn it up the field and make plays. He's going to be a great receiver.
2. Terrance Williams, Baylor – Good speed and size, an NCAA-leading 1,832 yards in 2012 to go along with 92 catches and 12 touchdowns. Yeah, he can do the job.
3. Justin Hunter, Tennessee – Tall (6-4) and fast (4.44 40-yard dash), Hunter is arguably just as talented as Patterson, his teammate with the Volunteers. He caught 73 balls for 1,083 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2012.
Here are the three they missed out on:
– Tavon Austin, West Virginia (selected No. 8 by St. Louis)
– DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (selected No. 27 by Houston)
– Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (selected No. 29 by Minnesota)
There are also several other high-quality wideouts worth mentioning: Cal's Keenan Allen, West Virginia's Stedman Bailey, Oregon State's Marcus Wheaton, and Tennessee Tech's Da'Rick Rogers. I'm sure there's plenty more the Patriots have their eyes on.
However, with 20 picks on the board until the Patriots find themselves on the clock again, they could be spurred to make something happen if a player they covet is within reach. There are now eight picks to dangle, making Thursday's draft-day trade worthy of plaudits, not stones.
Zuri's Top 5 needs for the Patriots in the draft (revised)
1. Wide receiver
3. Defensive end
4. Guard/interior lineman
5. Nickel linebacker
Some interesting tidbits from the first round:
– The movement by the Raiders represents a shift by the Silver and Black. The Raiders traded out of the No. 3 spot with the Miami Dolphins. At No. 3, Miami picked Oregon DE/LB Dion Jordan. The Raiders picked up the Dolphins' Nos. 12 (cornerback D.J. Hayden) and 42 (second round). These aren't your turn-of-the-century Raiders, who under Al Davis' reign valued speed over all. This trade showed prudence. We'll see what Oakland does going forward.
– AFC East rival Buffalo traded its No. 8 pick to the St. Louis Rams, and the Rams proceeded to select West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin. In return, the Bills got picks 16 (quarterback EJ Manuel), 46, 78, and 222 while St. Louis also gave up No. 71. The Bills were obviously filling a need, but they also provided one of the few real draft-day surprises in picking Manuel. As the first quarterback off the board, Manuel upstaged the likes of Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, and Geno Smith, whose names were tossed about endlessly in connection with the Bills for weeks. Manuel was, as the NFL Network's Mike Mayock put it, the dark horse.
– Three Alabama football players were taken in a row, Dee Milliner (Jets) at No. 9, Chance Warmack (Titans) at No. 10, and DJ Fluker (Chargers) at No. 11. Roll Tide, roll.
– A total of 11 players from the SEC were taken in the first round, as if the best conference in college football needed more to brag about.
Tweet of the week
This one comes from Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, who was congratulating former Syracuse teammate Justin Pugh after he was drafted by the New York Giants 19th overall.
WOW I'm in legit tears! So happy for you @justinpugh67 !!! You did it bro!!!!— Chandler Jones (@Chan95Jones) April 26, 2013
First round winner
Try the Minnesota Vikings. Despite giving up four picks to the Patriots, the Vikings came away with three first rounders, including defensive studs in Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes before picking up Patterson. Floyd was projected to be a top 10 pick and Rhodes could have been selected at least 13 spots ahead as the second corner. Talk about quality and quantity going hand-in-hand.
Reader "spaceray" writes:
It's refreshing to hear a "football analyst" admitting that he has no clue what BB will do because let's face it, historically speaking that's totally true! With that said we all know that BB is a defensive minded coach so if you were to bet on who he's going to pick that odds are in your favor if you go with a defensive player. I for one believe that the Pats need to shore up and develop defensive talent and the D-line needs to be addressed from a long-range perspective. Drafting college level WR is all about the sizzle and again, we all know that our favorite hoodie is not about the sizzle. Since the Pats revolutionized the concept of dual tight end receiving threats, other teams have followed. As a result, there now exists a REAL need for a LB with size, speed and experience to cover these mobile behemoths. Therefore, logically, that's where the Pats need to draft.
I suggest Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene. He's a converted defensive back and runs a 4.61 40-yard dash. But he's bulked up enough to handle the run at 241 pounds. We're on the same wavelengths, Spaceray.
The Patriots have plenty to do Friday in the NFL draft, with four picks in the second and third rounds. The draft resumes at 6:30 p.m. and the Patriots have the Nos. 52 (from Minnesota), 59, 83, and 91 picks.