Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't look for patterns with Belichick

Yes, there's been a distinct lack of pre-draft Patriots blogging from this exit off the Information Superhighway. There are, however, good reasons for that:

1. The Red Sox started their season.
2. There are people who cover this more thoroughly than I could.
3. I don't know who the Patriots will draft.
4. No one knows who the Patriots will draft.

Here's one thought, though, looking ahead to Saturday: Don't expect Belichick to adhere to pattern. There isn't any pattern.

Here's the list of players Belichick has selected in the first three rounds since he arrived in New England -- and how many have panned out:
* Defensive backs: 6 (3, though it's too early for Terrence Wheatley)
* Linebackers: 2 (1, though it's too early for Shawn Crable)
* Defensive linemen: 4 (3, though it's hard to consider the late Marquise Hill a bust)
* Offensive linemen: 4 (3)
* Running backs: 2 (0)
* Wide receivers: 3 (1)
* Tight ends: 3 (3)
* Quarterbacks: 1 (0; it's too early for Kevin O'Connell, too)

What does that tell us?

Not much.

Belichick has drafted 12 defensive players (7 have panned out) and 13 offensive players (7 have panned out). He's resisted taking linebackers high -- but we all know how well the selection of Jerod Mayo worked out a year ago.

The most interesting number is defensive back -- particularly since so many expect a premium defensive back to be available when the Patriots' turn comes around. ESPN's bloggers had the Patriots selecting Vontae Davis -- with James Laurinaitis and Donald Brown still on the board -- in a mock draft posted this morning.

The Patriots have Ellis Hobbs returning as a starter at one corner and Leigh Bodden, Shawn Springs, Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite set to compete to start at the other corner. At safety, Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders can be penciled in as starters -- but there isn't much behind them.

There doesn't appear to be a whole lot of need at corner. Springs and Bodden both can be useful, and Wheatley and Wilhite both showed flashes of ability during their rookie seasons. But there'll be quite a bit of talent available at that position, and Belichick knows as well as anyone how a secondary can be decimated by injury.

That might mean Belichick will draft a corner. That might mean Belichick will draft a linebacker.

All we think we know is that he won't draft a quarterback in the first round -- but with the way he's operated in the past, can we really put anything past him?

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