The 2010 draft spoiled Patriots fans. It was the first year Belichick appeared to target specific needs and aim to fill them.
The Patriots needed a bruising inside linebacker, so they drafted the obvious choice Brandon Spikes. In need of an outside linebacker pass rusher, he picked Jermaine Cunningham. Then he filled in the void at TE by drafting the two best in the draft Gronkowski and Hernandez. If I remember correctly, these picks were as well received as any in Belichick’s draft history. Some questioned the selection of McCourty, but that was because noone had heard of him, not because they didn’t need a cornerback.
I think that draft created an atmosphere of expectation in New England. Entering this draft, for some reason, we sought more of the same–for Belichick to attack the needs at pass rush, fortify the offensive line and maybe get a runningback or a wide receiver. But really, the last two needs were secondary options in the minds of the fans. Expectation 1,2 and 3 for this draft was to get someone to scare opposing quarterbacks.
Instead, today we’re the ones scared and confused because yesterday was the day we were supposed to get that pass rusher.Entering the draft, most people agreed that the Patriots strongest areas are their secondary and quarterback positions. Definitely. So why would they pick a cornerback Ras-I Dowling instead of Akeem Ayers, Brooks Reed, or Jabaal Sheard, and then not take an outside linebacker later? It’s a fact that they need a better pass rush. So where is that going to come from?
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