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Thirty-two thoughts on the first round

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  April 25, 2013 11:19 PM

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I don't have a high motor, my hips most definitely do not have good swivel, and my Wonderlic score is in the Vince Young range. But I do have the skill-set to deliver 32 scattered thoughts on the NFL Draft after the first 32 picks, and for that Jon Gruden loves me and my grit ...

1. First reaction to the news the Patriots had traded the No. 29 overall pick to the Vikings for second-, third-, fourth-, and seventh-round choices: Bah, I knew it. We waited three-plus hours for their pick, only to have them trade it. Second reaction, which came an instant later: Whoa, four picks? Jackpot. I love the move, particularly in a draft that's fairly deep but lacking in elite talent.

2. I never have been one to get caught up in the angst when the Patriots trade down in the draft or trade out of the first round for more picks later. I learned my lesson from being bummed out in 2003 when they traded a late first-rounder to the Ravens for a first-rounder the next year. The Ravens took Kyle Boller. The Patriots used the pick the next year on Vince Wilfork. Sometimes patience pays off, and accumulating more picks tends to offer insurance against the enormous failure rate of first-rounders.

3. Besides, staying up to watch the Patriots' turn come around was worth it just to see that good man Joe Andruzzi get some much-deserved applause as the Patriots' representative.

4. To put it another way: I'm pretty sure the draft that offered the most instant gratification to fans was 2006, when the Pats took Laurence Maroney in Round 1, then traded up to get Chad Jackson in the second round. Finally, some weapons for Brady! We just don't know what the best approach is until we see the players on the football field.

5. Unless you're Dante Scarnecchia, it's tough to be particularly enthused about a draft in which three of the first four and four of the first seven picks are offensive linemen, and the top choice in a tackle from Central Michigan. In terms of star power, this was pretty much the polar opposite of the Troy Aikman/Tony Mandarich/Barry Sanders/Derrick Thomas/Deion Sanders top-five in '89, you know?

6.There's an Assistant Chair Technician at ESPN this morning who is very nervous. Could be an opening soon.

7. The Jets could announce that they're drafting Clone Dan Marino and their fans would still boo the pick. Of course, the Jets would totally draft Clone Ken O'Brien, because that's what they do. Speaking of which, a true YouTube classic:

Love Pete Rozelle's pregnant pause before announcing the Ken O'Brien pick. Might be the first instance of a commissioner trolling a fan base. But hey, Freeman McNeil was a heck of a pick in '81. Not sure the Jets have a better running back on the roster right now, and he's 54.

8. Jon Gruden is going to ride that 1983 middle school haircut to the bitter end, isn't he?

9. Saw one Jets reporter griping on Twitter that it's not fair to suggest Dee Milliner is replacing Darrelle Revis, because really it's Antonio Cromartie who is replacing Revis. I suppose. But when you trade one of the top two or three best players in franchise history and immediately spend your first-round pick on a player at his position, you're inviting the comparison.

10. I sympathized with green room detainee Geno Smith. That wasn't Aaron Rodgers, dropping to the 24th pick in the 2005 and looking defiant during the whole excruciating process. It was Rashard Lewis falling to the second round in the 1998 NBA Draft and bursting into tears along the way.

11. Sorry, I'm mesmerized here looking at that 2005 NFL Draft. I wonder whether the Cowboys considered taking Rodgers at 20. I also wonder how long it took the Jaguars to realize taking Matt Jones at 21 – three picks ahead of Rodgers – was a really, really stupid decision.

12. Turning the draft into weeknight prime-time programming was overdue long before 2010, I know. But I do wish it started, say, an hour earlier. Adam Schefter first mentioned the likelihood of a Patriots/Vikings trade at 11:11 p.m. That's a long time to wait for suspense to go unfulfilled.

13. Favorite pick in terms of player/team need/fit in the first round? Safety Kenny Vaccaro to the Saints. There's going to be an adjustment period for his teammates, who will have to get used to playing with a defensive back who actually tackles.

14. It's can't be a good sign that the first highlight ESPN showed for Barkevious Mingo (sixth, Cleveland) was a clip of him hitting a ballcarrier -- and needing the swarm to arrive to bring the guy down.

15. I'll admit it – I'm rooting for it to work for Mike Lombardi in Cleveland. Always came across as an engaging guy who knew his stuff during his interviews on Dennis and Callahan and on Bill Simmons's podcasts during his NFL Network days.

16. That said, I really hope he gives the Patriots something of significant substance for Ryan Mallett, even though it wouldn't be the best thing for the Browns.

17. Feel like the Steelers got it right with Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones at No. 17.

18. Feel like the Giants got it right with Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh at No. 19.

19. But that's probably because I almost always feel like the Steelers and Giants get it right.

20. Funny how the Patriots' AFC East opponents (rivals doesn't seem quite accurate) spent their first-round picks trying to find someone in the mold of a franchise great. Dee Milliner succeeds Darrelle Revis with the Jets. Dolphins pick Dion Jordan draws Jason Taylor comparisons. And EJ Manuel can be everything J.P. Losman was for the Bills and more.

21. OK, that was cheap. I don't know if Manuel was a smart pick for the Bills or not. But after hearing him speak with sweet eloquence about what this day means to his mom, I hope it works out for him.

22. So I guess we know Doug Marrone would have traded Ryan Nassib to Florida State straight-up for Manuel without a second thought, right?

23. Bronze-medal tweet of the night:

24. Silver-medal tweet of the night:

25. Gold-medal tweet of the night:

26. There are some pretty compelling names still on the board in the second round, from Smith and Nassib to Alabama running back Eddie Lacy and LSU enigma Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu would be a fascinating pick for the Patriots.

27. Oh yes, and Manti Te'o. Geez, you'd think ESPN and the NFL Network would mention him once in a while. Haven't heard his name once. Nope. Not once. Seriously, he's totally going to be their defensive-player version of Tim Tebow from now on, isn't he? The less relevant he is, the more we'll hear about him.

28. Well, it will be interesting following Cordarrelle Patterson's career. If he thrives in Minnesota, we'll never hear the end of how the Patriots passed him up to collect lesser draft picks. Felger and Mazz will probably bring this up within the first five minutes today. I'm sure they have him in the Hall of Fame already, a combination of Percy Harvin and Randy Moss.

29. But I read one scouting report about the kid that said he's not a polished route-runner and has not played in complex passing systems. Something tells me Patterson, for all of his talent, was not someone the Patriots envisioned thriving immediately here. Or ever, really.

30. One player I'll always keep an eye on is Florida safety Matt Elam, who went to the Ravens at 32. He was mentioned specifically by Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio earlier this week, and his Gators pedigree and reputed skill set of intelligence/toughness suggests he's someone who genuinely did interest the Patriots. Just not enough to pass up the Vikings offer.

31. Trey Wingo takes over the studio hosting duties for Chris Berman on ESPN at the advent of Round 2. I think we can all agree this is a good thing, right?

32. Prediction for the first player the Patriots do select: Southern Cal receiver Robert Woods. So, yeah, we should probably go ahead and not expect that to happen right now.


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.

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