The Patriots followed up a hectic first day of draft action with another busy trade and selection filled Sunday afternoon. When all was said and done at Gillette Stadium New England made another two trades and added seven players to the mix, to bring the weekend total of new Patriots to 10.
But the real surprise of the draft may not have been what 10 players the Patriots actually came away with, rather the manner those players were selected. The team was projected to select 13 players in the draft, but through the course of seven trades between Friday and Sunday actually ended up choosing with only three of those original 13 picks, and that doesn't take into account that the 120th pick that ended up being cornerback Asante Samuel actually went from the Patriots to the Panthers to the Broncos and then made its return to New England all in the course of the hectic weekend.
Sunday began in normal enough fashion as the Patriots selected Temple defensive lineman Dan Klecko, yes the son of former Jets great Joe Klecko, in the fourth round with the 117th selection obtained from the Houston Texans on Saturday. The 5-11, 283-pound younger Klecko was the Big East defensive player of the year in 2002 when he tallied 68 tackles, 10 sacks and 23 tackles for a loss. A highly productive player in his collegiate career, Klecko will offer the Patriots some versatility as both a nose or end.
Just three picks after selecting Klecko the Patriots made a deal to move up and take Samuel, a 5-10, 185-pound defensive back from Central Florida. New England sent a fourth-round pick (128th overall) and a fifth-round pick (157th overall) to the Broncos in exchange for the chance to move up to 120th overall for the corner who could also be an option as a punt returner. In four seasons with the Golden Knights as both a corner and free safety earlier in this collegiate career, Asante started 25 of 45 games played totaling 127 tackles, with eight interceptions and 38 passes defensed.
The Patriots then made their sixth trade of the two-day draft to move down in the fifth round and take Boston College center Dan Koppen with the 164th selection. New England made the deal with the Titans, acquiring the 164th pick, a sixth-round pick (201st overall) and a seventh rounder (243rd) while sending a fifth rounder (154th) and a seventh (225th) to Tennessee. Koppen is a solid 6-2, 297-pound center who started in each of the last three years at BC and could add depth to the interior of the New England offensive line.
While the trading may have been complete, the end of draft weekend was certainly not quiet as the Patriots selected four players in the final two rounds late Sunday afternoon. New England took arguably the most productive player in the draft in the sixth round (201st overall) with the selection of Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury. In four years, including three as a starter for the Red Raiders, the 6-3, 213-pound single caller completed 1,231-of-1,883 passes for 12,429 yards and 95 touchdowns with just 40 interceptions. He capped his career with an incredible 2002 season in which he completed 479-of-712 passes for 5,017 yards, 45 touchdowns and just 13 picks. While his production may be largely due to the system he was in, Kingsbury is at the very least a field general with a strong ability to lead a team and could be of benefit in training camp.
With the first pick of the seventh round (234th overall) the Patriots selected BYU tight end Spencer Nead. The 6-4, 259-pound junior-college transfer started 18-of-25 games played in two seasons with the Cougars catching 62 passes for 715 yards and six scores. While the Patriots already have some youth and depth at tight end, Nead could have a chance to make the team as a possible run blocker or even work out of the fullback or H-back positions.
The second of the three seventh-round picks (239th overall) was used on California defensive end/outside linebacker prospect Tully Banta-Cain. The 6-2, 254-pound undersized defensive end was a CNN/SI second team All American selection and would likely have to make the move to 3-4 outside linebacker or sub package pass rushing defensive end to stick in the NFL. He finished his career with the Golden Bears with 112 tackles, 26.5 sacks, 52 stops for a loss, three fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles in 39 games.
And while he is not the overall Mr. Irrelevant, that was Oakland's selection of Gustavus Adolphus receiver Ryan Hoag, the honor of being the final Patriots selection in the 2003 draft went to Baylor defensive tackle Ethan Kelley. Taken with the 243rd overall selection, the 6-2, 315-pound true nose tackle type led the Bears as a senior with 75 tackles in 12 games. He also led the team with 10 tackles for a loss and added two sacks.
Hoag's selection brought the busy weekend to an end for those following the draft, but certainly not for Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli. The pair along with the entire scouting staff will now work to add to this collection of 10 players with the signing of undrafted rookie free agents. The draft picks and free agents will then be introduced to their new surroundings at Gillette Stadium with the team's rookie mini camp that will take place later this week. The hardest part, selecting the new talent is nearly done, now Belichick and Co. will begin the process of fitting these new pieces into the puzzle that will eventually be the 2003 New England Patriots.