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Head-scratching drafts for Pats, Seahawks? Think again

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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George Nikitin / Associated Press
When the Pats went running back with consecutive Day 2 picks, it left some asking about their pass-rushing need.


People tend to look at drafts shortly after the final pick is made and draw conclusions about the decisions made by clubs. It is way too soon to criticize teams such as the Seahawks and Patriots for their picks.

Seattle has been singled out for its draft, particularly for taking offensive linemen James Carpenter and John Moffitt with its first two selections. If the Seahawks didn't take Carpenter with the 25th pick, he was probably headed to the Packers to close the first round. Fans knew Gabe Carimi's name and figured he was a better choice. Ultimately, Carimi might be, but the Seahawks studied him very closely and wound up liking the guard next to him at Wisconsin more, taking Moffitt in the third round.

There were already four quarterbacks off the board by the time Seattle was on the clock in the first round. With the draft direction, the Seahawks probably gave us a clue that they will be looking for a veteran quarterback if they don't re-sign Matt Hasselbeck.

Keep in mind, we haven't had free agency yet. Buffalo general manager Buddy Nix said to me Monday, "I think I like the draft before free agency. The draft is the unpredictable part, and when we know what we have, then we can fill a hole if we want too."

A number of coaches have expressed similar views and felt they didn't have to reach for a player. That might have also played into Seattle's decision not to go after a quarterback in the draft.

One team that isn't used to being questioned is the Patriots. When New England took running backs in Rounds 2 and 3, the picks were debated because the entire football world thought the Patriots needed pass rushers.

There was also a sentiment that this was the year the Patriots would package their picks and move up. Leading up to the draft, I warned everyone that Bill Belichick was probably not headed in that direction. In the end, Belichick ended up with an extra first- and second-round pick next year by moving down.

AFC East draft grades
While some are questioning why New England didn't draft a pass rusher, the Patriots received a high mark when Bucky Brooks handed out his grades. More ...

As for the running backs taken, let's look at the draft process. Four outside linebacker candidates were off the board before the Patriots took Nate Solder. Seven potential five-technique defensive ends were gone by the time the first pick in the second round came around. In total, 13 players for either spot were gone by time they selected Shane Vereen. While I could see a case for Dontay Moch or Justin Houston late in the second round because of their pass-rush credentials, Belichick might be looking to free agency for his pass rusher.

Belichick also knows he needed to get younger at running back between Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk. Both Vereen and Stevan Ridley have power and run the zone scheme well. What if Belichick signs DE Cullen Jenkins of the Green Bay Packers in free agency and trades for an outside linebacker when the lockout is over? Point being, it's too early to criticize a coach who went 14-2 last year because he picked up a few running backs.

The pass rushers New England has taken recently (like Shawn Crable and Tyrone McKenzie) never really worked out. Let's wait and see how much Jermaine Cunningham has developed and what's happens when veterans are available.

Most people on the outside looking in at a draft only see it on a need basis. Unless you have the same information as a team, you really can't have a value board. Either way, these players haven't even stepped on the field yet, which makes it premature to assume how they will perform.

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