Lindberg: New England Patriots Draft Grade

How much will Nate Solder impact the New England Patriots in the future?

By Andy Lindberg 

I feel like I should be yet another tool to give out a draft grade.  Therefore I will grade the Patriots. I have been watching the Patriots since I moved to Connecticut from Alabama in 1992. (Side note, I HATE how the New York Jets drafted Alabama’s former quarterback, Greg McElroy. That made me sad).

I love football, but what the NFL draft has become, a spectacle after the meat-market that is the televised NFL scouting combine, is a flash and flare party which sees men who have never taken a snap in the National Football League take their first steps toward garnering $40 million signing bonus’ who later turn out to be the next Ryan Leaf.

In short, it upsets me. It is unnecessarily exhibited and covered by men who can’t seem to do anything but yell at me over the television screen. I understand the player has great “football smarts,” but you’ve yelled it at me for the past eight picks.  It’s a wonder any of these players ever fails. So “tool upon tool” is screaming letter grades at me like these teams just took an exam. I will be joining the ranks of them, providing you a letter grade at the end of this and oh, by the way, I’m sorry in advance for my weakness.

That said the draft is a necessity for the business of building a football team.  There are a lot of teams who drafted well because they drafted needs. The Patriots last year had an exceptional draft, fixing gaping holes at the tight end and defensive back positions. This past season, both improved exponentially (especially at tight end) and the only glaring hole was the need for a pass rusher and offensive line help.  Before I begin let it be known that even though I may like some of the players New England drafted (as made obvious with my pick by pick coverage) that does not mean I feel they were smart picks in some cases.

The Patriots’ first pick was offensive tackle Nate Solder from Colorado. Given the futures of Matt Light and Logan Mankins with the team, this was a very good pick.  However after that, New England’s draft went downhill. They did nothing at all to address the pass rush, even with several on the board.

With the first overall pick of the second round, they drafted Ras-I Dowling, a cornerback from Virginia. I liked this pick because I thought New England could still add good pass rush depth later in the second round, given the talent still out there.  Even with Leigh Bodden coming back, Dowling could provide very capable help at the lower end of the depth chart in his first year, and could prove to be a very valuable special-teamer immediately.

Will the former Patriots running back core be effected by the 2011 NFL Draft?

After that it got bad. The Patriots drafted two running backs in a row even though BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a fantastic year and Danny Woodhead took over the Kevin Faulk role. Yes, New England needed a little more depth at that position, but one of those picks (preferably the earlier, Shane Vereen pick) should have been a pass-rusher.

Picking Ryan Mallett was a great selection, as I believe New England got a steal.  Mallett could also prove to be great trade bait in a few years if Tom Brady is still racking up great numbers. A guy like Mallett won’t sit as a backup for long, not with his potential.

In the fifth round New England drafted TCU’s Marcus Cannon, an offensive lineman who dropped to round five because of a very recent cancer diagnosis. His prognosis is excellent, and doctors anticipate a recovery very soon. If he can play up to his potential in a year or two, he will have been a good steal.

The Patriots finished the draft with Markell Carter, an outside linebacker from Central Arkansas and Malcolm Williams, a defensive back from TCU. Size-wise, Carter fits the profile of the type of linebacker New England loves. I hope he proves to be a fantastic player down the road, but for now, he’s simply a sixth round pick.

The Patriots had a need, and did not address it, even with all the available needs.  They added more picks for next year via trades, but the time for stockpiling picks is over. This year it was time to cash in and the Patriots didn’t do it. More than likely one of those running back picks is going to turn out to be a wasted pick. There’s only so much playing time for a running back with Ellis and Woodhead playing. There was no reason not to pick a pass rusher in that situation.

I used to give the Pats the benefit of the doubt, but for the past few years, one of the needs has been the same and New England has done little to address it. New York’s Mark Sanchez kept his jersey very clean during the playoff matchup with New England and that’s ultimately what ended up costing Tom Brady and Co. another shot at a title. If the Patriots cannot get to the quarterback, no regular season record is going to change the fact that in the playoffs, they’re going to get burned.

Patriots draft grade (according to me, who’s opinion really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but here at Noontime Sports it does): C

An average grade for an average draft.

I still love them, though. Go Pats!

NFL Draft 2011: New England Patriots Select Solder, 17th Overall

By Andy Lindberg 

The New England Patriots selected offensive tackle Nate Solder in the first round  of the 2011 NFL Draft with the 17th pick. Here is some more information on the newest member of the Patriots organization.  

Name: Nate Solder

College: Colorado

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 319 lbs

Overview: Solder is far from what many would consider a sexy pick. He’s no Robert Quinn or Mark Ingram in terms of name value, but what he can bring to the team is extremely valuable with the future of left tackle Matt Light and left guard Logan Mankins up in the air. Tom Brady needs protection and Solder has the potential to protect Brady’s blind side immediately.

This is a great pick for New England, but they still need to address the pass rush and receiving corps. There should be great value to be had with the Pats having as many picks as they do in the second and third rounds. Bill Belichick has a very good history of finding offensive line gems in the first round, and I expect Solder to be no different.  One also wonders about New England’s confidence in re-signing Light or Mankins with this pick.

NFL Draft Talk with Carl Desberg

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). 

Daily Noontime – February 15, 2011

Well, it is indeed a Tuesday, so how does that make you feel? Great? Awesome? Amazing? No matter what, Tuesday’s can be cool or silly or how about we just deliver the Daily Noontime, so without further ado have an awesome day!

Headlines:

* The New England Patriots finally franchised one of their offensive guards, Logan Mankins, but is this the right move?

* While Carmelo Anthony continues to be a topic for discussion in regards to a possible trade to the New York Knicks or Los Angles Lakers, we can all rest easy and know that he’ll play for the West in the NBA All-Star game Sunday.

* It seems that according to report, New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia will likely opt out of his current contract after the 2011 MLB season.

* The Buffalo Bills have been awful the past few seasons, so its probably not a bad thing that they are already pondering draft picks, right?

* Kansas State Men’s basketball should be happy this morning, they defeated the number one team in the country Monday, Kansas.

* The contract discussions with the St. Louis Cardinals and Albert Pujols have been pushed back an extra 24-hours.

Games to Watch:

* Toronto at Boston (NHL) – 7:00pm eastern

* Buffalo at Montreal (NHL) – 7:30pm eastern

* Charlotte at Chicago (NBA) – 8:00pm eastern

* Utah at Phoenix (NHL) – 9:00pm eastern

Video of the Day:

Are you even allowed to spit on a golf course?


Daily Noontime – February 10, 2011

Welcome to Friday. It is the end of the work week, the weekend is upon us and so is that special Valentines Day too, but don’t worry if you don’t have anyone special, Noontime Sports will be your date! Any ways, have an awesome day and enjoy the Daily Noontime for Friday February 10, 2011.

Headlines:

* The Boston Celtics may have lost to their arch rival the Los Angles Lakers, but were able to watch Ray Allen break Reggie Miller‘s 3-point record.

* The NFL cancelled meetings on Thursday, but it just seems likely that the league will be locked out sooner than later.

* The Utah Jazz received some sad news on Thursday, their head coach Jerry Sloan decided to step down and retire from the organization.

* Forget playing basketball, former University of Washington center and New Jersey Net, Todd MacCulloch has become a “pinball wizard.”

* Did MLB umpire Jim Joyce and Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga really write a book together?

* Good news for Patriots fans, Logan Mankins will receive the franchise tag, so don’t worry, he won’t be leaving the squad after all.

* Can you say, “save of the year?” New York Islanders goalie Mikko Koskinen was able to make an amazing save and denied a Montreal goal.

Games to Watch:

* New Orleans at Orlando (NBA) – 7:00pm eastern

* Detroit at Boston (NHL) – 7:00pm eastern

* New York Rangers at Atlanta (NHL) – 7:30pm eastern

* Los Angles Lakers at New York Knicks (NBA) – 8:00pm eastern

* Phoenix at Utah (NBA) – 10:30pm eastern

Video of the Day:

Yes, Mr. Allen did indeed break the 3-point record!