|2||40||Ron Brace||NT||Boston College|
|3||83||Brandon Tate||WR||North Carolina|
|3||97||Tyrone McKenzie||ILB||South Florida|
|4||123||Rich Ohrnberger||OG||Penn State|
|7||232||Julian Edelman||WR||Kent State|
|7||234||Darryl Richard||DL||Georgia Tech|
In classic Patriots fashion, New England managed to get great bang for their buck in each and every pick made in the 2009 NFL Draft. Not seeing anyone they wanted at pick 23, the Patriots traded down with the Ravens for pick 26 and then down again with the Packers. I love this move for many reasons. One, if this was any other NFL, their fans would be hysterical. But Because this is New England, fans are fully aware that what the Pats have done is for the best and each move was made for the optimum result. Because they chose not to draft in the first round, the Patriots can devote more money to either going out and getting a big free agent name to help out the defense (see: Peppers, Taylor) or signing soon-to-be free agents (Vince WIlfork). Also, the Patriots now have THIRTEEN draft picks in the 2010 NFL Draft (this year they had 11 at the start of the draft). In a rather shocking move, the Patriots traded cornerback Ellis Hobbs to the Eagles for two fifth round draft picks. While this does seem like the Eagles got a little bit of the better end of the deal, people have to realize the ridiculous amount of corners the Pats have (remember, they did draft stud corner Darius Butler out of UConn).
Now on to actual player analysis:
With their first pick in the draft, the Patriots selected strong safety Patrick Chung out of the University of Oregon. This seems to be a strong indicator that Rodney Harrison will not be making a return in the 2009-2010 season. Chung plays like the heavy-hitting Harrison and will be a huge contributor in the box. For mch of the season, Chung will probably find himself playing opposite either Leigh Bodden, James Sanders, or Brandon Merriweather. All three will be great mentors to Chung. Look for him to make the roster, start, and make an immediate impact.
With the 40th pick, the Patriots chose Ron Brace, a nose tackle out of Boston College. Hopefully, this is not an indicator that the Patriots do not plan on resigning Vince Wilfork. In any case, Brace is certainly an impact player but was often overshadowed by fellow defensive lineman B.J. Raji. While he does tend to struggle with penetration, Brace is a true nose tackle who plays like Wilfork as he is extremely talented at stuffing the run and collapsing the pocket. I look for Brace to make the roster and possibly try other positions along the defensive line, however his time will be limited as the front three of the Pats is pretty set in stone.
With the very next pick in the draft, the Patriots chose Darius Butler, a very overlooked cornerback out of the University Connecticut. I believe the Patriots chose Butler knowing they were going to place Hobbs on the trading block. With the current abundance of corners, I’m not sure if Butler will start be he will certainly make the 53 man roster. Butler is arguably the best cover corner in the draft but his lack of physical play could be a pretty big deficit when the Patriots place such a heavy emphasis at bumping wide receivers at the line to throw off their route running. In any case, Butler’s cover ability will be very highly valued.
This next pick was extremely interesting and out of left field. New England picked up Sebastian Vollmer from the University of Houston. Vollmer is absolutely huge (almost 6’8”) and plays right tackle. He has a great motor and plays through the whistle. He finishes his blocks and is great in pass protection but he is extremely raw. His technique is far from flawless (that’s being generous) but with some time on the practice squad, Vollmer could become a formidable force at the line of scrimmage. It wouldn’t be a stretch for Vollmer to not even make the roster, but I think his size and ceiling are enough to give him at least a decent shot at making the team.
In what I believe is one of the true steals of the draft, the Patriots chose wide receiver Brandon Tate out of the University of North Carolina. Many draft boards actually had Tate in front of fellow UNC receiver Hakeem Nicks until a bum knee and a positive drug test at the combine set Tate back more than a few steps. It is unlike the Patriots to choose a player with possible character issues, but Tate’s potential is out of this world. With Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Joey Galloway, and Greg Lewis, the Patriots certainly did not need to draft a wide receiver but because Tate was still there, it was a good choice. Nicks is tall and has long arms with great straight line speed and loves to go up and get the ball. Remind you all of someone?
In the fourth round, the Patriots chose Tyrone McKenzie, an inside linebacker from the University of South Florida. I like McKenzie a lot (at one point when he was playing for Iowa State University, he averaged 10.3 tackles a game). He attacks the line of scrimmage relentlessly on blitzes and is very fluid in coverage. His only drawback is that he is a little less instinctive than Belichick typically likes his players to be, but his upside is great. McKenzie could be Teddy Bruschi’s successor.
In the fourth round, the Patriots chose Rich Ohrnberger, a guard from Penn State. I was pretty surprised at how many offensive linemen the Patriots chose in the draft but Ohrnberger played for a very talented Penn State team and has the mindset of a winner (kind of like anyone else who has put on the Patriots jersey in the last nine years). Ohrnberger is big and is very athletic. Stephen Neal (the current right guard) is very talented but has fallen victim to numerous injuries. Billy Yates, the replacement for Neal did a fine job but is old and I’m sure the Pats were looking to add some depth at right guard. Ohrnberger should make the practice squad (if he makes the team at all) so he can continue to refine his skills as an offensive lineman.
That is all the way through the fourth round. Look for more analysis later for the rest of the Patriots draftees.