Patriots plan ahead: 13 takeaways from Day 2


The focus on draft weekend is usually on the impact players who will start right away. But the NFL draft isn't truly about this year; it's about the future.

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New England Patriots fans don't want to hear it, but Bill Belichick is starting to think about life without Tom Brady.

Jimmy Garoppolo, the Patriots' selection with the No. 62 overall pick, has a legitimate chance to succeed Brady in New England. Garoppolo is the highest drafted Patriots quarterback since Drew Bledsoe and he's not just an insurance policy like previous Patriots picks Ryan Mallett and Kevin O'Connell. Garoppolo's contract will run out after the 2017 season. Brady will be 40 years old by then.

Mallett looms over the drama. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that there is mutual interest in a trade with the Houston Texans, but the two sides haven't come to terms on a deal. The Patriots plan to have Mallett as part of their organized team activities and minicamp. (Translation: They want a better offer from Houston.) Either way, Mallett isn't long for New England. This selection says a lot about how the Patriots view him.

"Better off being early rather than late (addressing) that position," Belichick said just before midnight Friday.

He knows what it's like to try to win without a quality quarterback. The Patriots have made a calculated bid to prevent future pain.

Father Time will catch up with Brady eventually, but Belichick, now 62, doesn't seem interested in considering a future without football.

Here's what else we learned during Friday's two rounds:

2. The Jacksonville Jaguars are moving on from the Justin Blackmon era with authority. General manager David Caldwell made it clear Friday that Blackmon won't play this year, and the organization is likely through with him for good. They went about replacing him Friday night with Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. Both came at great values and can make plays after the catch. Throw in Cecil Shorts, and suddenly Blake Bortles has a promising group of weapons to grow with. This entire paragraph would have blown the minds of Jaguars fans a month ago.

3. Tampa Bay has a wildly talented defense, and they have quickly made their offense more explosive in the draft. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is one of our favorite value picks. Combine him with Mike Evans, and the Buccaneers start to look like the baby Bears. They have Josh McCown throwing to twin towers at wide receiver (Evans and Vincent Jackson), along with a physical tight end who can catch and block. This was a terrible team in the red zone last season, and they should be much better now. Third-round running back Charles Sims is one of the best pass-catching backs in this draft.

The Buccaneers figure to be a trendy pick to make the playoffs.

4. Lovie Smith meant what he said about Mike Glennon being the team's QB of the future, at least for now. Tampa Bay must not have liked any of the rookie prospects available after the first round. It looks like they will roll with McCown and Glennon.

5. Houston and Tennessee have failed to pick up QBs in the draft. That's why we don't quite buy that the Mallett trade talks are over.

6. The Oakland Raiders' puffery of Matt Schaub was just hot air. General manager Reggie McKenzie knew that he had to keep drafting a QB every year until he found a real one. Derek Carr figures to play this season.

7. These are weird times in Dallas. Owner Jerry Jones admitted that he didn't draft Johnny Manziel despite being the Cowboys' top-ranked available player in part because of Manziel's celebrity. (Tony Romo's massive guaranteed contract was surely a factor, too.)

Dallas also gave up their third-round pick to move up just 13 spots and take pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence. That's a high-risk move for a team with a plethora of needs.

8. We love the fit of Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix in Houston. They might not score points, but defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has a lot of weapons at his disposal.

9. There was a lively debate in our newsroom about San Francisco's trade for Stevie Johnson in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick. He's a similar receiver in some ways to Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin; Johnson is more crafty than fast and good after the catch. He won't burn you deep.

Ultimately, the 49ers got great value. Johnson is due less than $4 million this season and averages just over $5 million over the next three years. He's 27 years old and that's a quality price for a quality starter.

10. The news of Josh Gordon's potential lengthy suspension casts a shadow over all the Browns excitement this week. The Browns needed a wide receiver even before the Gordon news. Nate Burleson is also recovering from a broken arm. Yet they surprisingly didn't make a move at the position. There is some question about the length of Gordon's suspension, but it's deeply disappointing news for a player who had insisted he learned from previous mistakes.

11. The Pittsburgh Steelers are returning to their roots. Linebacker Ryan Shazier and defensive end Stephon Tuitt are the type of no-frills defensive pieces that can help turn around a sagging defense. General manager Kevin Colbert needs them to deliver.

12. Get ready to draft running back Bishop Sankey in August. The Tennessee Titans found an explosive, versatile starter in the Washington product. He went No. 54 in the draft, but figures to go much earlier in fantasy leagues. He's one of our favorite prospects.

13. Carlos Hyde was a surprise pick for the San Francisco 49ers, who couldn't pass on his physical running. It doesn't bode well for Marcus Lattimore. We are tempted to say it doesn't bode well for Frank Gore long term, but The Inconvenient Truth is immortal. Gore has countless challengers to his throne.

Thanks for making it this far. We'll be back after Day 3 for the draft's winners and losers.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" provided instant reaction to all the wild happenings in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.