Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe writes that the draft has become every bit as important as the football season that follows it. The 2006 draft is peculiarly uncertain. Certain judgments we all made back in early January now appear to have fallen under the old Hamilton Burger objection that Perry Mason was "assuming facts not in evidence." We thought we knew what was up with Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and Vince Young, and now they're all telling us we knew nothing. Coming out of the Rose Bowl, Reggie was everyone's No. 1. Now, we're not so sure. The stock of North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams is rising now that people have had a chance to see him in the all-important postseason activities. So it may be a question of Houston taking the best defensive player available, as opposed to the best offensive player.
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe takes a look at Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter. Solomon compares Carpenter to linebacker Mike Vrabel. Like Vrabel, Carpenter would prefer to play outside, but he has the ability to play inside and can play out of a three-point stance on the edge in third-down situations. "He's a guy who does a lot of things," Bobby Carpenter said of Vrabel. ''I tried to kind of pattern what I did this year off of him. The coaches put me in a situation to rush the passer a lot. He's someone in the offseason who I really talked to. He's the all-time sack leader at Ohio State, so I figured he knew something about rushing the passer a little bit. So I learned some from him." Carpenter is projected to be a late first round pick and a potential Patriot.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that from 2001-04, the Patriots spent three first-round picks, a second and a fourth on defensive linemen. They now boast one of the top groups in the league, led by first-rounders Richard Seymour (2001), Ty Warren (2003) and Vince Wilfork (2004). If one can glean anything from the drafts of Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli, it's that they generally take defensive linemen by the fourth round or not at all. The Pats have room for another body to provide competition. While they probably won't spend a first-round pick, they'll almost certainly choose someone on the first day of the draft, particularly with six picks in the first four rounds. "Usually there are some quality players at the top of the draft that you can see helping your team sooner, but then there are also selections later on that can give you the kind of depth where a guy can grow into a position over time," Belichick said. "It's a good opportunity to strengthen your team if you can hit on the right guys."
Mark Blaudschun of the Boston Globe writes that there is currently an investigation into whether former Southern Cal tailback Reggie Bush violated NCAA regulations this past season, and whether those violations could cost the Trojans their Pac-10 championship or even cost Bush the Heisman Trophy. "We're looking into it," Hansen said yesterday as the Bowl Championship Series meetings began. "USC called us last week and asked us to investigate the matter." At issue is a $757,000 house in a Southern California community just south of San Diego in which members of Bush's family were living. Bush's mother, Denise Griffin, his stepfather, LaMar Griffin, and his stepbrother moved into the house last fall, which would not have been an issue until it was discovered that the house was owned by a man who allegedly was planning to start a marketing agency with Bush as a primary client.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal profiles Boise State guard/tackle Darryn Colledge. Curran will profile a player at a "need" position for the Patriots each day. New England has 11 picks in the draft, six in the first four rounds. The Pats' first-round pick is the 21st overall.
Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant takes a look at the top defensive back prospects and offers his list of those players that are sure things. Patriots coach Bill Belichick collects cornerbacks like a librarian does books, and this is considered a good group. There are highly regarded safeties, too, although cornerbacks usually are the ones who go first, early and often.
Mark Farinella of the Sun Chronicle writes that in each of Bill Belichick's six drafts as head coach of the New England Patriots, he has selected at least one tight end - two of them in the first round. Not surprisingly, those two are the only ones who remain on the Patriots' roster. The 21st selection in the first round of the 2002 draft, Colorado's Daniel Graham, and the 32nd pick in the 2004 draft, Georgia's Benjamin Watson, remain in place as the Patriots enter their 2006 campaign, and it's a matter of debate whether either have lived up to their lofty draft positions. Perhaps of more concern to Patriots' fans is how badly the Belichick braintrust has misfired on its other tight end selections.
Dan Pires ofThe Standard-Times writes that Bill Belichick, a defensive coach by background and resume, has used three of his previous six first-round picks to choose a defensive lineman. As a result, the Patriots have one of the youngest defensive lines in the NFL. Now, however, the issue - as always it seems - is building and sustaining depth. While the Patriots are far being onion skin-thin at defensive end, they need to restock the cupboard in the event of injuries or their patience with a few of their youngsters - namely, Marquise Hill - simply runs out.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.