NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2010 record: 14-2, finished 1st in the AFC East)
5-Year NFL Draft Review: The combination of head coach Bill Belichick and ex-General Manager Scott Pioli had earned the reputation as the best at drafting, trading down, and adding value. They drafted impact players such as Richard Seymour, Asante Samuel, Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins, Matt Light, and Jerod Mayo. I believe that the 2006 and 2007 drafts created some major problems for the team, though they drafted some solid starters they didn't find impact players that they are so accustomed to finding. The 2009 and 2010 drafts they filled some needs with some good young talent, if the Patriots want to get back to those championship days they need these two classes to start making impact plays along with whomever they draft in 2011. The main problems are on defense and if they can find a couple of playmakers in that front seven a trip back to the Super Bowl could be in the near future.
2010- Devin McCourty- CB - Rutgers: McCourty was everything and even more than expected by the Patriots. As a rookie in 2010, he displayed shut down corner capabilities. He plays bigger than his size, doesn't back down from a challenge, and has great confidence in his abilities to make plays. He had seven interceptions for the season and earned a trip to the pro bowl. The Patriots truly hit a homerun with this draft pick.
2009- Traded Pick to Ravens: The Patriots traded away their only first round pick to the Baltimore Ravens, selecting to trade out of the 1st round and acquiring another 2nd round draft pick. They had a total of four 2nd round picks. The Patriots were showing the league again why they are so good at maneuvering in the draft to acquire talent. They came away with perhaps four future starters in: (S) Patrick Chung, (DT) Ron Brace, (CB) Darius Butler, and (OT) Sebastian Vollmer. These guys will have to take on bigger roles in 2011 if the Patriots want to achieve the ultimate, which is a return to the Super Bowl.
2008- Jerod Mayo- MLB - Tennessee: Mayo has been a stud at middle linebacker for the Patriots since he stepped on the field. He was named the NFL's 2008 Defensive Rookie of The Year and has the potential to be a regular at the pro bowl. He and nose tackle Vince Wilfork makes the New England defense stout against the run making it hard for teams to attack the middle. He is a great tackler, can drop in coverage using his superb athletic ability, and also can blitz effectively from his inside linebacker position. He is definitely a sideline to sideline playmaker.
2007- Brandon Meriweather- S - Miami(Fl.): New England has only gotten glimpses of greatness from this past first round prospect. Meriweather has had some injuries and off the field issues that has hindered his play up to this point. If he can regain his focus and keep away from off the field distractions, he has the abilities to not only make the secondary better, but vastly improve the overall effectiveness of this defense. Having a safety who can roam the field, defend against the pass, and come up in run support makes the defense tougher to attack. Meriweather has all of these qualities and it is time for him to start showing why the Patriots drafted him.
2006- Laurence Maroney- RB - Minnesota: Maroney's time in New England was short lived. He seemed to be the perfect fit for the type of offense that they execute. He was a tough runner between the tackles, something they haven't had since Corey Dillion departed, and he could catch the ball out of the backfield. I believe the combination of injuries and the offense being built mainly around the passing game resulted in a bad marriage between the parties and ended with a premature divorce. Missing on this pick really hindered the development of the offense's running game. Having QB-Tom Brady and that great passing attack really masked that weakness of no running game. Eventually, the Patriots are going to have to address this part of the team soon if they want to become a complete offense.
Future Outlook: The Patriots still have no general manager since the departure in 2009 of Scott Pioli. They are still in great hands with coach Bill Belichick running the show in the draft war room. I have the utmost respect for this front office, if I was general manager for anyone of the other teams and the Patriots called me to acquire about a trade and/or player they would quickly get a dial tone. On a serious note, they are hands down the best on draft day moving up and down to get the type of player that best fits what their team is trying to accomplish. It is amazing that other teams don't try to follow in their footsteps and build their team and front office accordingly. In the 2011 draft, the Patriots own 8 picks in the first 4 rounds. They have 2 picks in each of those rounds. They should focus on 4 areas of need: offensive tackle, pass rushing linebacker, defensive end (3-4 scheme), and a wide receiver. If they come away with impact players in all of these areas this franchise just might have another perfect season. The other teams will have no one else to blame but themselves when Sunday afternoons and Monday nights comes a calling, GOOD LUCK! These are some eligible draftees in the 2011 NFL draft who I think would fit the Patriots: Anthony Constanzo, Gabe Carimi, Ryan Kerrigan, Justin Houston, Cameron Jordan, Allen Bailey, Leonard Hankerson, and Greg Little.