That said . . . the fun of the whole exercise is in the guessing, isn't it? Me, I'm always hopeful they Patriots will take a speedy, athletic linebacker, even though those of you with a much better grasp of the Patriots' defensive concepts and requirements than I have end up emailing me detailed explanations of why that won't happen . . . and then it doesn't. The year the Pats took Mankins, I was pleading for Lofa Tatupu, the Maine Black Bear-turned-USC Trojan who went to Seattle in Rd. 2. Last year, I coveted Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis, and when it became obvious in the weeks before the draft that he would be long gone before the Patriots picked (he went 11th to the Niners), I convinced myself that Miami's Jon Beason or Michigan's David Harris would be capable additions to the aging linebacking corps. Again, the Patriots looked elsewhere.
But like a dog who keeps getting his dumb self zapped by an electric fence, I'm ready to make the same mistake again. Yup, I think there's a very good chance the Pats are taking a - dramatic pause - linebacker with their top pick today.
I tend to believe the rumor CNN/SI's Don Banks was reporting in the last day or so: the Pats will trade down from No. 7 to No. 10 with New Orleans and end up with Southern Cal linebacker Keith Rivers and an extra third-round pick. Rivers is a little small for the Pats' system - the USC website lists him at just 220 pounds - but he's fast, smart, versatile, and is said to have good character, and I just can get past the fact that they are desperate for an infusion of young talent at the position. Tennessee's Jerod Mayo also seems to be another possibility, though that might just be a smokescreen, and I also wouldn't be shocked if they go with the best value philosophy and take Rivers's college teammate, defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, or Virginia offensive lineman Branden Albert at No. 7.
Feel free to pop into the comments and let me know who you think the Pats will take. If it's someone who will make Kiper's head spin, all the better. After all, Mankins seems to have turned out quite all right.
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As for today's Completely Random Football Card:
You know, the last No. 55 the Patriots drafted from Southern Cal seemed to turn out okay.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.