It’s Sunday of draft week! Real football related events are about to commence. Joy.
#1. I think Wes Welker’s comments about the lockout that came to light yesterday were said in poor taste. I’m sure it’s all well and good to have an extended vacation when a player has made a few million the past couple years, doesn’t have a wife and kids to support, remains one of the best players at his position and is coming off another Pro Bowl season.Â But what about the guys who rely on those workout bonuses to help make ends meet? Or how about the NFL employees and stadium employees who are being forced to take pay cuts and are at risk of losing their jobs because of the lockout? There are players and lawyers working every day to bring equality to the league and improve the game as they see fit, including for the players who helped lay the foundation of the NFL as it is now. Wes is a guy who likes to joke; any Pats fan can tell you that. And he’s perfectly entitled to be pleased he might not have to go to OTAs and training camp. But perhaps he could have a little regard in the future for those less fortunate than him when speaking publicly, and maybe remember what it was like when he was a struggling player – and how much a lockout would have seriously hurt him.
#2. I think if Mark Ingram is taken at #17 for the Patriots I will be flabbergasted. Bill Belichick really did nothing at all to address the biggest defensive issues the Pats have in the draft or free agency last year. The 2011 draft class does not have great depth at defensive line or outside linebacker but there are some prime prospects that can be had in the first round. Belichick traded away the only real pass rushing threat the Pats had left when he moved Richard Seymour to Oakland. From where I’m standing, to use the pick the team got in return on a skill player with a bum knee would be ludicrous. It’s a waste, when plenty of good running backs are not products of top 30 draft spots.
#3. I think when Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald said that the Patriots won’t take J.J. Watt in the first round because of who his agent is, I was somewhat disbelieving. The Pats are a prideful organization to be sure, and the rift with Tom Condon that came about in the Ben Watson negotiations in 2004 didn’t make Condon a friend of the organization. But I don’t see how anyone – including Belichick – can deny what a strong player Watt is. To leave him on the board because you don’t like his representation, especially if he’s the best player available, goes against everything the head coach has been saying in Foxboro for years. Team first. Do your job. If Watt is going to be the best player for the Pats, Belichick should set aside his distaste for Condon and do the right thing by picking him.
#4. I think the Brandon Marshall stabbing puts some of the last year into perspective from a Patriots standpoint. Last year, fans were clamoring for Marshall to be a Pat, and when the Dolphins snagged him many predicted he would held the Fins usurp New England as AFC East champs. But Marshall didn’t offer much in the way of contributions to the team, regularly called out the organization and his quarterback and now is faced with yet another legal issue to add to the laundry list he already had. Whatever happened between him and his wife is obviously not for us to speculate about, and it’s certainly good news that he’s going to be okay, but there’s clearly a reason why the Pats didn’t pursue Marshall even as he was going to a divisional rival. Talent can only take a player so far if he’s lacking other tools that lead to success.
#5. I think I really don’t want to see Matt Light back with the Patriots next season. I am not a big fan of change, especially on the offensive line, but I’ve had an opportunity the past few days to re-watch several games from last year and Light simply wasn’t playing to as high a level as we’ve seen from him in the past and not as well as you need a left tackle to play when he’s protecting such a valuable asset. Don’t get me wrong, Light seems like a great guy, a good leader and he’s obviously well-liked in the locker room. But it may be time to pass the torch to the next generation of tackle, one with more quickness and physicality.
#6. I think if the Buffalo Bills really want to take a big step forward in improving, they’ll draft TCU quarterback Andy Dalton in the first round. The more and see and read of Dalton, I think he’s worthy of being such a high pick, probably more so than Cam Newton. He’s got great mechanics, good vision, great leadership qualities. He’s everything you want to build a franchise around. No disrespect to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who did some good things last season, but the Bills need to find that next Jim Kelly. Maybe it’s a red-headed bias, but I think Dalton can be that guy.
#7. I think the New York Jets got thrown a terrible curveball in the schedule when they face three road games in a row against Oakland, Baltimore and New England. I’m sure if Rex Ryan could have picked a worst possible scheduling scenario, that would have been one of them. But the Pats three road games in the first four matches of the season isn’t much better. Thinking back to 2009, when the Pats couldn’t get anything going on the road at really any point in the season, one has to hope they don’t suffer those same issues again. Otherwise they might dig themselves a hole they can’t get out of.
#8. I think the Fab Five documentary that I finally got to see yesterday was amazing. I wasn’t much of a fan of the “Brady 6″ special, but ESPN really outdid themselves telling the story of the former Michigan Wolverines.
#9. I think I’m bemused as to why I was recently gifted with a book called “The Female Fan’s Guide to Football.” Chapter One: Training Camp (The Basics). Chapter Eleven: Watching and Enjoying the Game. Like, really? I almost want to burn it for being so entirely patronizing and offensive.
#10. I think that if I could pick five players who could potentially be taken by the Patriots on Thursday night, I’d go with Cameron Jordan (Cal), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Castonzo (BC) and J.J. Watt (Wisconsin). Condon be damned. If he’s there, he should be picked.