This is an act Patriots fans appear to have had enough of. The Patriots head into draft weekend loaded for bear with multiple picks and seemingly on an annual basis decide it's better to add more selections rather than picking a player as high as possible.
In 2008 they moved down slightly from No. 7 to 10 and took linebacker Jerod Mayo, a move that was met with excitement and enthusiasm before eventually being validated by the inside linebacker's selection as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
In 2009 Bill Belichick chose to move down so many times that he eventually worked his way all the way out of the first round. The Patriots wound up with four second-round picks and got a few players who helped the cause immediately.
So when the team entered the 2010 draft in a similar position with a first-rounder at 22 and three second-round picks, it should have surprised no one that Belichick chose the same route. Rather than selecting a player he deemed worthy at 22, or minutes later at 24 after the first trade, Belichick moved down a third time to 27 before taking Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty.
It was a pick met with something between indifference and dissatisfaction. The latter came as the announcements of the trades came over the airwaves. The Patriots dealt with Denver with the Broncos giving New England a fourth-round pick (No. 113 overall) in order to move up two spots. Now sitting at 24, the Patriots slid down again, this time working with Dallas. The Cowboys gave New England a third-rounder (No. 90) to move up three spots from 27 while the Patriots kicked in a fourth-round pick (119 overall).
"We felt at the end of the round there things worked out as well as we could have hoped. Backing down at that point represented good value," Belichick said in what has become his annual refrain. "We wound up picking up a spot at 90 and that was the way things turned out."
The moves were not met with much enthusiasm at the team's draft party. Both elicited boos before the McCourty selection was announced to near silence around 10 p.m. Evidently, Patriots fans have had enough of the team's constant search for value and the never-ending moves down the board.
In truth, it's tough to evaluate the move. On one hand, McCourty is a solid pick at a position where every team needs more depth in today's NFL. The Rutgers product showcased terrific athleticism as both a corner and special teams player and should be in the mix for a top four spot at the position immediately, joining veterans Leigh Boddenand Shawn Springsas well as second-year man Darius Butler, a second-rounder a year ago.
Added to a group that includes third-year players Jonathan Wilhiteand Terrence Wheatley, McCourty should give Belichick some solid depth at corner, particularly in a division that now includes the likes of Santonio Holmes(Jets) and Brandon Marshall(Dolphins).
On the other, as good as McCourty is it's tough to argue against the fact that the team had many larger holes to fill. The Patriots still are badly in need of an outside linebacker, a defensive end, an inside linebacker, a wide receiver and a tight end. With the exception of inside linebacker there were candidates to fill every spot available, yet Belichick chose to add depth.
In fairness, players like Sergio Kindleof Texas and Ricky Sappof Clemson, both outside linebackers, are still available and could be second-round targets. But Tennessee defensive lineman Dan Williamswent to Arizona at 26 and could have helped, and Penn State defensive lineman Jared Odrick(No. 28 to Miami) falls into the same category. In short, the team had bigger needs to fill and the talent was there for the taking.
Still, Belichick held firm and appeared satisfied with his Day 1 work.
"We put an emphasis on every part of the defense," Belichick said when asked how he handled the balance between improving the pass rush and adding depth to the secondary. "We signed Damione [Lewis], who we think will address [the pass rush]."
It's certainly a stretch to suggest Lewis, a career 4-3 player who has never been known as a huge pass rusher, will solve the teams woes in that department. Belichick has repeatedly expressed the need for a defense to work in concert with a pass rush helping the coverage. It seems as if Belichick felt it was more important to add to the latter rather than addressing the former.
It's a move he may wind up regretting without some further additions.