Checking out Patriots' early draft tendencies


Checking out Patriots' early draft tendencies

By Tom E. Curran

Every draft season until 2008, I could say with great certainty that the Patriots don't draft linebackers early. They converted players to the position (Tedy Bruschi) or signed savvy, veteran (Rosevelt Colvin, Junior Seau, Monty Beisel - oop!) free agents. And the history bore that out. From 2000 when they took Casey Tisdale in the seventh round, the linebacker draftees went as follows: T.J. Turner (7th, 2001), Ryan Claridge (5th, 2005), Justin Rogers (6th, 2007), Oscar Lua (7th, 2007). But since then, they've gone on a linebacker jag.In 2008, they took Jerod Mayo with the 10th overall pick, added Tyrone McKenzie with a third-rounder in 2009 then took Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham in the second round last year.What to make of that development? How about this:As muchas the Patriots speak of taking the best available player at a spot, or tradingdown from that spot if the best player available isn't a fit, they very much do draft for need. The Patriots didn't take linebackers from 2001 through 2008 because they had a cadre of excellent ones - Ted Johnson, Bruschi, Roman Phifer, Vrabel, McGinest. When the cupboard went bare, they moved to fill it. So as we look at where the Patriots might go in 2010, we have to ask ourselves two things - where are they getting old andor thin? Where is this draft deeply stocked? They are oldthin on the offensive line. Getting there on the defensive line (Wilfork, Warren, Stroud). This draft is deep at DEOLB, fairly deep at both defensive and offensive line. So don't be surprised if this year, the Patriots buck a trend of not drafting offensive linemen very early (one first rounder, three second rounders since 2000) and try to collect a few. Here are the Patriots tendencies over the first three rounds since Bill Belichick has been head coach. FIRST ROUND
Defensive end: 2 (Richard Seymour, Ty Warren)Tight end: 2 (Daniel Graham, Ben Watson)Nose tackle: 1 (Vince Wilfork)Guard: 1 (Logan Mankins)Running back: 1 (Laurence Maroney)Linebacker: 1 (Jerod Mayo)Cornerback: 1 (Devin McCourty)Safety: 1 (Brandon Meriweather)SECOND ROUNDTackle:2 (Sebastian Vollmer, Matt Light)Wide Receiver: 2 (Deion Branch, Chad Jackson)Safety: 2(Eugene Wilson, Patrick Chung) Linebacker: 2 (Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes)Cornerback: 2 (Terrence Wheatley, Darius Butler)Defensive end: 1 (Marquise Hill)Tight end: 1 (Rob Gronkowski) Guard: 1 (Adrian Klemm)THIRD ROUNDCornerback:2 (Brock Williams, Ellis Hobbs)Linebacker: 2(Shawn Crable, Tyrone McKenzie)Wide receiver:2 (Brandon Tate, Taylor Price)Quarterback: 1(Kevin O'Connell)Tackle: 1 (Nick Kaczur)Safety: 1 (Guss Scott)Running Back: 1 (J.R. Redmond)Where the Patriots have drafted and the personnel already on the roster have no doubt impacted their selections greatly. Still, it's fascinating to me that the first corner they ever spent a first-round pick on was Devin McCourty. And that they've never spent a first-rounder on a wideout oran offensive tackle. Or a pick in the first two rounds on a quarterback (thanks, Tom Brady!). They've not taken a center in the first three rounds since Belichick's been here. And one lonely little guard all the way back in 2000 (Adrian Klemm). There are assumptions that can be made from these tendencies, certainly. The wide receiver trend seems an almost hard and fast rule. But - as with Mayo - once it seems you've got their thinking figured out, the Patriots change. Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven


Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season. 

Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. 

Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick. 

Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury. 

Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad. 

Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.

The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues

Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment


Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.


“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”

Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September. 

Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:

Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout."