After a frenetic weekend of constant maneuvering, Bill Belichick and the Patriots came away from the 2003 draft with 10 players. Six of those 10 picks were made on defensive players, including the top two – Ty Warren and Eugene Wilson. Here's a capsule look at the newest Patriots draft class.
Ty Warren, DT, Texas A&M, 1st round, 13th overall
Warren, a defensive tackle out of Texas A&M, adds another versatile player up front, capable of playing inside and out in Belichick's and Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defense. The 6-4, 307-pounder played on the nose as a junior in 2001 before switching to end last year. He was attractive for the Patriots because he played in a similar pro-style 3-4 set as the Patriots hope to employ in 2003.
Eugene Wilson, CB, Illinois, 2nd round, 36th overall
Wilson is a play-making cornerback out of Illinois who is physically in the mold of Ty Law. At 5-10, 192 pounds, Wilson possesses a similar build to Law and brings a strong college resume to Foxborough. Belichick noted his ability to play well in both man and zone situations and believes Wilson can complete for a job in the Patriots secondary immediately. Wilson had 11 interceptions and a school-record 60 pass deflections with the Illini, production that made him worthy of moving up slightly in the second round to grab him. Belichick also believes Wilson can contribute on special teams, possibly as a return man on both punts and kicks, where he fared well at Illinois.
Bethel Johnson, WR, Texas A&M, 2nd round, 45th overall
Belichick raised a few eyebrows with this selection since Johnson was rated lower than some other available receivers such as Kelley Washington, Teyo Johnson, Anquan Boldin and Tyrone Calico. But Warren's collegiate teammate may be the fastest player in the draft with his sub-4.4 speed and that made him too good to pass up. Johnson's production level at A&M was average – 117 catches for 1,740 yards and 11 touchdowns in 35 games – but Belichick feels the Aggies unsophisticated offense may have played a role in that. Johnson (5-11, 201) also returned kicks and punts and could represent the home run hitter the Patriots receiving corps sorely lacks.
Dan Klecko, DT, Temple, 4th round, 117th overall
Every draft has a guy like Klecko, whose overall college production far outweighs his draft status. Klecko, the son of former New York Jets Pro Bowler Joe, was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, winning the honor over several top draft picks like Miami's William Joseph and Jerome McDougle. He's a high-motor player who finished his career with 206 tackles and 26 sacks in 40 games. This despite constant double teaming and extra attention as one of the Owls few game-breakers. He should factor into the mix as a nose tackle despite just average size for the position (5-11, 283).
Asante Samuel, CB, Central Florida, 4th round, 120th overall
Belichick compared Samuel to Wilson in that both possess similar ball and return skills. The 5-10, 185-pound Samuel finished his career with 127 tackles and eight interceptions while splitting time as a free safety and corner. He has great hands and likes to make plays on the ball, as his 38 career deflections would indicate. He will be part of a spirited battle for one of the extra defensive back spots but his return abilities might give him an edge. He averaged more than 10 yards on 63 career punt returns at UCF.
Dan Koppen, C, Boston College, 5th round, 164th overall
Koppen is a tough, hard-nosed, throwback type player who received excellent NFL training at The Heights from Head Coach Tom O'Brien. The Eagles have sent many offensive linemen to the pros through the years, including current Patriots Pro Bowl center Damien Woody. At 6-2, 297 pounds, Koppen has good size for an interior lineman and will try to win a job as a backup.
Kliff Kingsbury, QB, Texas Tech, 6th round, 201st overall
Perhaps no quarterback has ever come out of college with more production than Kingsbury compiled with the Red Raiders. Last year alone he completed 479-of-712 passes for 5,017 yards and an amazing 45 touchdowns. Despite the heavy workload, Kingsbury threw only 13 interceptions. He is one of only three NCAA players to throw for more than 10,000 yards, finishing with 12,429 for his career. He played in a spread offense and has plenty of experience in the two-minute drill and no huddle attack. With Tom Brady, Damon Huard and Rohan Davey already on the roster, Kingsbury may be hard-pressed to earn a job, but Brady proved in 2000 that Belichick will keep four quarterbacks if the situation calls for it.
Spencer Nead, TE, BYU, 7th round, 234th overall
Another very versatile player drafted by Belichick, Nead has experience as a tight end and out of the backfield. He teamed with current Oakland standout Doug Jolley in a two-tight end set in Gary Crowton's offense at BYU. Crowton, formerly the offensive coordinator with Chicago, runs a lot of NFL-type sets and likes to utilize his receivers in various formations. Nead is a well-balanced tight end who was asked to block, receive and come out of the backfield at times with the Cougars.
Tully Banta-Cain, DE, California, 7th round, 239th overall
This could be the most intriguing pick of the second day for the Patriots. Banta-Cain is a bit of a 'tweener at the pro level, caught between defensive end and linebacker. But Belichick feels he could fit well in the Patriots 3-4 alignment as an outside 'backer and will use him predominantly as a pass rusher. The 6-2, 254-pound Banta-Cain was the third leading sack man in Cal history with 26.5, trailing only current NFL players Andre Carter and Regan Upshaw. Not a bad pick this late.
Ethan Kelley, DT, Baylor, 7th round, 243rd overall
Kelley is a true nose tackle and played in a pro-style 3-4 set at Baylor for Kevin Steele, former the linebackers coach at Carolina. Kelley spent his first two seasons at guard before making the transition to defense before his junior year. He led the Bears with 75 tackles in 2002, including two sacks and a team-high 14 quarterback hurries. Belichick described him as a hard-working, tough kid who is everything you'd expect a nose tackle to be.