The 2011 NFL Draft is upon us, which means Noontime Sports is ready for the first round to begin on Thursday. So, with that being said, here is our conversation with Carl Desberg (Boston Sports Then and Now) about the Draft itself, as well as the NFL Lockout and New England Patriots.
Matt Noonan: What would you say is the biggest and most important item the Patriots need to address in the NFL Draft?
Carl Desberg: Offensive line – protect Tom Brady. Matt Light a free agent. If they don’t draft a tackle, it gives him a lot of leverage. Also, on the interior, Logan Mankins is unhappy and Dan Connolly is very solid backup, but has never been asked to do it for more than 16 games, (although he proved durable and versatile last year).
MN: Going into the draft, which Patriots unit could be considered the weakest? Which one is the strongest? Also, how can the weaker unit be improved, if not through the Draft?
CD: The obvious answer is outside linebacker, which is the weakest Patriots unite. I’ll venture to say wide receiver for sake of the argument.
Wes Welker, I believe is entering the last year of his deal, Deion Branch is solid receiver in the Patriots system, but also is entering his last year too. Brandon Tate is inconsistent, although does help spread the field. Second year player Taylor Price looked very good in week 17 last season after being inactive for practically the entire year.
Improved if not through the draft? Chad Ochocinco! Strongest position has to be the quarterback, duh! Brady just signed a lucrative extension and backup Brian Hoyer is a well respected and affordable backup.
MN: Out of all the college players who are entering the draft this year, which will have the most promising career?
CD: I’ll say, Anthony Castonzo from Boston College. He could be a bookend on the line for over a decade for any team. Boston College does an exceptional job with producing great offensive lineman.
MN: Yes, the Judge lifted the NFL Lockout ban on Monday, but still, so much has to occur before players can actually work out and return to their day-to-day roles with the organization. How much has this current off-season downgraded the NFL as a whole and in your opinion, will there be a season come September? Yes or No? Why?
CD: I don’t think the NFL has been downgraded. If no games are missed (and it sounds like owners and players may be forced to head back to the bargaining tables), then a new CBA will strengthen the league as a whole for years to come. Any new deal will improve the game and league, one would have to think.
MN:How much would not having a NFL season hurt the league, players and fans? Would college football then dominate the football world? Would football fans flock to the NHL or MLB instead?
CD: I don’t think it would affect fans, especially if games were missed.
MN: Finally, assuming that there is a season, which Patriots game on the schedule will be one of those “can’t miss games?”
CD: Both games against the Jets are can’t miss television, especially after their playoff loss this past season. They are truly the Patriots rival passing the Indianapolis Colts.
Follow Carl Desberg on Twitter (@InBostonSports).