Every NFL draft has a personality all its own. This year is no exception.
Somehow, some way Bill Belichick seems to find himself controlling one of the major intersections of the draft.?With the Patriots owning six picks in the top 92, Belichick has the ability once again to draft whoever he wants, while also deciding when to sell picks for future considerations. With first-round picks No. 17 and 28 to his credit, things couldn't be shaping up any better for Belichick and his ability to control the wishes of a number of teams.
There are so many teams at the top of the first round looking at the quarterback class, there's just no way they will all be satisfied. After Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are selected somewhere in the top 10 pick, that will still leave at least five teams hoping to find a worthy QB in this draft to solve a big need.
Without free agency and trades, the lockout is really starting to drill down into the rest of the 2011 quarterback class. Guys like Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick. and Andy Dalton are getting lots of interest because teams really have no place else to turn right now. All it will take to break the dam, so to speak, is for a team in the second half of the first round to select a quarterback like Jake Locker.
Say a team like the Seahawks decide to draft Locker -- or Mallett, for that matter - making him the third QB off the board, teams are going to look at the Patriots' No. 28 spot as the right place to get the QB they want before the draft's first night adjourns. Teams will get nervous about waiting overnight, knowing that teams will work the phones trying to move up. Take a look at the teams near the top of round two that need a quarterback, and it's easy to see the Patriots getting flooded with calls.
Between Buffalo (No. 34), Cincinnati (35), Arizona (38), Tennessee (39), Washington (41), and Minnesota (43), they won't all be out of the QB sweepstakes by the time the first round winds down. To move up from a high second-round pick to the Patriots' 28th spot won't be that expensive if a team really wants a certain guy. Here's what to go by:
Buffalo at 34 = 560 points
Cincinnati at 35 = 550 points
Arizona at 38 = 520 points
Tennessee at 39 = 510 points
Washington at 41 = 490 points
Minnesota at 43 = 470 points
New England's 28th pick is worth 660 points, and any draft pick with a value comparable to the difference could do the trick. A move down to the trading team's spot and a third-round pick this year or a second-round pick next year should get it done.
What makes the Patriots unique in a team's pursuit of a quarterback is that they also have the first pick (33 overall) of the second round and could easily take on another trade situation for a second team looking for a quarterback.
Let's say a team like Buffalo jumps up to No. 28 and also gives the Patriots a third-round pick and takes Christian Ponder. Then the Patriots trade No. 33 to the Titans for their pick and a third-round selection and grab Ryan Mallett. That would give New England picks 34, 43, 68 and77 to go along with 17, 60, 74, and 92.
The demand for quarterbacks in this draft could wind up putting the Patriots in a position to have eight picks in the top 92 if they want that many. It's becoming clear that the Patriots could end up steering teams toward the quarterbacks they want.
Again, Bill Belichick is in the driver's seat.what they want and parlay a few choices into 2012 selections. They need a pass rusher, left tackle, a good big man on the defensive line and an outside linebacker. A tall wide receiver to "take the top off" the defense is always a consideration, but that might come a bit later in the draft since Tom Brady can help coach him up.
Bill Belichick has always liked defensive players with experience rushing the passer with their hand on the ground and an ability to play in coverage. He also has a very strong connection with the Florida Gators and will study that roster.
*Draft choices: Nos.17, 28, 33, 60, 74, 92, 124, 156, 188
New York Jets
Needs: OLB, DE, G, WR, S
Even though the Jets get a lot of mileage out of their creative defensive scheme, they need more talent at end and outside linebacker. No more scheme pass rush, this unit needs a few players who can beat a block so there are enough guys in coverage against Tom Brady.
A right offensive tackle could be a top priority, and the highest graded player left on the board when the Jets pick in the first round just might be a tackle. Without a second-round selection, they might have to reach a bit in the first round since 64 players will come off the board between their first and second pick. Somewhere in this draft, the Jets have to grab a safety because injuries at that position changed everything last year.
*Draft choices: Nos.30, 94, 125, 158, 189, 197
*The draft picks are unofficial at this point. The league is expected to release the complete draft order by the end of March.