The New England Patriots are heading into a transition period as they dump salaries, draft 12 new players and signed eight free agents after the NFL Draft. Head coach Bill Belichik is going to be putting the emphasis on competition as New England heads into some optional mini camps and then prepares for training camp in July.
New England Patriots first NFL Draft pick and 27th overall Devin McCourty.
Devin McCourty, a cornerback from Rutgers, gives New England more depth at the corner position. New England made a trade with Dallas, (Dallas taking Dez Bryant with their pick) knowing they would still be able to grab their man with the 27th overall pick.
McCourty is a good cover corner with speed that will be allowed time to develop and assimilate to the NFL for a year. While he is learning the system, he will see plenty of playing time on special teams. McCourty will play in his first NFL season and work his way into passing situations as he matures.
New England Patriots second NFL Draft pick and 42nd overall Rob Grankowski.
Rob Gronkowski, a tight end from Arizona, gives Tom Brady another weapon across the middle of the field. Gronkowski is a sure handed big man, that can also block if called upon. Gronkowski also is known for yards after the catch and could be used to clear out the middle for Wes Welker. Gronkowski will play in his first NFL season and could develop into a favorite target of quarterback Tom Brady.
New England Patriots third NFL Draft pick and 53rd overall Jermaine Cunningham.
Jermaine Cunningham, a defensive end from from defensive power Florida, will be used in a variety of schemes in the New England defense. Cunningham is a deceptively fast pass rusher with closing speed on the outside but he also has the skill to drop back in coverage. Cunningham flew under the radar in his senior season but may surprise many prognosticators who doubted the pick. Cunningham will play in his first NFL season and contribute.
New England Patriots fourth NFL Draft pick and 62nd overall Brandon Spikes.
Brandon Spikes, is a linebacker from Florida, that can cause chaos in the middle of the field on defense. Spikes is not a speedster but he has the instinct to find the ball and the ball carrier. Spikes had a few discipline issues but New England is the best place for him in that regard. Spikes will play in his first NFL season and should make an impact, while learning the position at the NFL level.
New England Patriots fifth NFL Draft pick and 90th overall Taylor Price.
Taylor Price, a wide receiver out of Ohio, gives Tom Brady another potential weapon. Price is a lethal receiver that is quick out of the blocks and knows how deke a good cover corner and get the lead heading down the field. Price is a good receiver that could push Randy Moss to play his best. Then again he could also cause Moss to go in his shell, it is a 50-50 proposition when it comes to Moss. Price will play in his first NFL season and see time on special teams.
New England Patriots sixth NFL Draft pick and 113th overall Aaron Hernandez.
Aaron Hernandez, a tight end from Florida, continues the influx of Florida Gator players to New England. Hernandez is a pure receiving tight end and has suspect blocking skills at a position that requires good blocking skills. Hernandez will need to earn his way onto the roster and may fall to special teams if he can’t make the offense. Hernandez has a chance to play in some NFL games in his first season.
New England Patriots seventh NFL Draft pick and 150th overall Zolton Mesko
Zolton Mesko, a punter from Michigan, averaged 44.5 yards per punt and was solid inside the 20 yard line. Although Mesko is a good punter, picking him in this spot is a little bewildering. Still Mesko will be a New England Patriot for years to come and should win the starting job and play in his first NFL season.
New England Patriots eighth NFL Draft pick and 205th overall Ted Larson.
Ted Larson, a center from North Carolina, will give New England some added depth on the offensive line. Larson is versatile and has played in other positions along the offensive line. Larson will see playing time in the 2010 NFL season.
New England Patriots ninth NFL Draft pick and 208th overall Thomas Welch.
Thomas Welch, an offensive lineman from Vanderbilt, will also be attempting to make the New England roster as a back up offensive lineman. Welch is a converted tight end that can give New England options in short yardage goal line situations. Welch has an outside chance to see action in his first NFL season.
New England Patriots 10th NFL Draft pick and 247th overall Brandon Deaderick.
Brandon Deaderick, a defensive end out of Alabama, is a pick that will stir up some competition on the defensive line. On the surface, Deaderick is a player that may have been available as a free agent after the draft. Deaderick has good instincts and is a solid tackler and could earn his way into consideration by stepping it up above expectations. Deaderick will be a practice squad invitee after training camp in his first NFL season.
New England Patriots 11th NFL Draft pick and 248th overall Kade Weston.
Kade Weston, a defensive tackle for Georgia, is a long term project for New England. He has the right proportions for an NFL defensive tackle but will have to be patient and learn from the bench and practice squad in his first NFL season.
New England Patriots 12th and final NFL Draft pick and 250th overall Zac Robinson.
Zac Robinson, a quarterback from Oklahoma State, was chosen so New England wouldn’t have to compete for free agent quarterbacks. Robinson does have some basics that could lead to an NFL career. Robinson has issues with accuracy but he does have the quick release and decent instincts. Robinson should make it as a third string quarterback in his first NFL season as a New England Patriot.
NFL Network NFL Draft live coverage April 22-24, 2010.
ESPN TV NFL Draft live coverage April 22-24, 2010.
NFL.com player profiles.