Patriots, 2009 Draft Countdown, 23rd Pick By Paul Myerberg Six picks among the first 97 over all will allow the Patriots to replenish a veteran-laden roster, potentially helping them bridge the gap toward a second dynasty. All eyes will be on Tom Brady’s knee, but the Patriots could use help at linebacker and in the secondary, so don’t be surprised to see a number of their early picks go toward their back eight.
2008 Record 11-5 (Second in the A.F.C. East)
Head Coach Bill Belichick (116-45 over nine season with the Patriots; 153-90 over all)
2008 Draft Recap Round 1 (10th over all): LB Jerod Mayo, Tennessee Round 2 (62nd): CB Terrence Wheatley, Colorado Round 3 (78th): LB Shawn Crable, Michigan Round 3 (94th): QB Kevin O’Connell, San Diego State Round 4 (129th): CB Jonathan Wilhite, Auburn Round 5 (153rd): WR Matt Slater, U.C.L.A. Round 6 (197th): LB Bo Ruud, Nebraska
Key Players Entering Free Agency QB Matt Cassel (traded to Kansas City) FB Heath Evans (signed with New Orleans) WR Jabar Gaffney (signed with Denver) LB Larry Izzo (signed with the Jets) RB LaMont Jordan (signed with Denver) CB Deltha O’Neal WR Kelley Washington
Players Added (2008 Team) TE Chris Baker (Jets) LB Tully Banta-Cain (San Francisco) DB Leigh Bodden (Detroit) OL Damane Duckett (San Francisco) WR Joey Galloway (Tampa Bay) CB Shawn Springs (Washington) RB Fred Taylor (Jacksonville)
New England re-signed LB Eric Alexander, P Chris Hanson, G Russ Hochstein, S James Sanders, S Tank Williams and DL Mike Wright after the start of free agency.
Team Needs Multiple early picks will give New England the opportunity to add needed depth, as well as select players they believe can replace contributors nearing the end of their careers. As always, expect Belichick and the New England front office to address their front seven, especially if given the chance to add another young, explosive linebacker to team with Jerod Mayo. The veteran additions Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs will improve the secondary, but the Patriots could use younger talent at cornerback — even though two of their first five picks in last year’s draft went toward that position. On offense, despite adding Fred Taylor, would New England shy away from taking a running back in the first three rounds, especially if one of the top-tier talents slides out of the first round?
Scott Wright’s Take Scott Wright is the founder and President of DraftCountdown.com. He has been scouting players and evaluating the N.F.L. draft since 1993. Here’s his analysis of the Patriots:
The Patriots have four selections in the top two rounds. Talk about the rich getting richer. New England doesn’t have many glaring needs, so look for them to get younger and bolster their depth on both sides of the ball, although linebacker will likely be an area of particular emphasis. My latest mock has them taking Clint Sintim out of Virginia with their first pick.
A Fan’s Take Greg Knopping is the architect of Patriotsblog.net, one of the most popular fan-made Patriots blogs. He receives bonus points for his recent post detailing eight potential seventh-round/undrafted free agent fullbacks in this year’s draft.
In the 2008 draft, the New England Patriots began to infuse youth on their defense by bringing in players such as inside linebacker Jerod Mayo, cornerbacks Jonathan Wilhite and Terrence Wheatley, and outside linebacker Shawn Crable. In 2009, look for the Patriots to continue the youth movement on the defensive side of the ball. At 23rd over all, the Patriots may look to select Connor Barwin from Cincinnati, a pass rushing end who would convert to outside linebacker in the 3-4. Barwin also played three years of tight end for the Bearcats, which has earned him comparisons to recently traded Patriots outside linebacker Mike Vrabel. The Patriots may also look at inside linebacker. If they do, Southern Cal’s Rey Maualuga comes to mind immediately. The Patriots also hold three second-round picks. They could look at a safety such as William Moore, Patrick Chung or Louis Delmas, or a defensive end, such as San Jose State’s Jarron Gilbert. With six picks in the first three rounds, it looks to be an interesting draft for the New England Patriots, whomever they take.
Worst Patriots First-Round Draft Pick of the Last 15 Years It’s Andy Katzenmoyer, taken 28th over all in 1999. Truth be told, he should get a pass because his career was cut short by a neck injury. But the college football fan in me still has a difficult time reconciling his lackluster pro career with the awesome spectacle that was the “Big Kat” as a collegian. Well, at least I’ll always have this: “Hello, Mr. Katzenmoyer!“