The real fireworks won't begin until the 19th pick. That's when the Patriots will have to decide on taking a stud running back, trading the pick, or going in another direction.
The problem is that they only have one choice in a running back that early: Willis McGahee. Further complicating that matter is that there are serious questions about McGahee's rehabilitation from torn ligaments suffered during the Fiesta Bowl this past January.
Most pundits have the Patriots taking a DL with the first of two first round picks (at 14) and then going after McGahee with the other (19). But, the Patriots haven't ruled out trading down, or up should the cards fall in the right direction.
The Pats could use one of the picks to get an offensive lineman since the line, which was impressive during their Super Bowl season, failed them last season. The left side of line seems stable, however, the right is not.
Right guard Joe Andruzzi might not be ready for training camp after experimental surgery on his knee and right tackle Greg Randall was traded to Houston. OL is weak this year depth-wise so it might be wise to get in on the action early rather than waiting until the 2nd round. Iowa guard/tackle Eric Steinbach would be a possible choice here because he offers the team flexibility.
A wild card in the first round would be wide receiver. Troy Brown needs some help on the other side and Deion Branch didn't add that consistent support. The team could go after a speedster to stretch the field. One player they could reach for is Taylor Jacobs out of Florida. He's definitely a speedster but doesn't get separation very well and doesn't use his speed to his advantage. So the Patriots address this position in later rounds.
A couple of outside linebackers the Patriots have looked closely at are Cincinnati's Antwan Peek, an ideal fit for the 3-4, and Hawaii's Pisa Tinoisamoa (Junior Seau's nephew). Both are within the Patriots' sights.
In 1998, Atlanta had 11 picks and none of them are in the NFL today. While 13 may seem high, the Patriots will not be throwing away picks on a whim.
With the brain trust in place, New England should be able to pick up at least 4 to 5 players who will be integral parts of the team in the next 5 years.
10 Prospects To Watch
- Dewayne Robertson DL Kentucky
- Jimmy Kennedy DL Penn State
- Willis McGahee RB Miami
- Kelley Washington WR Tennessee
- Taylor Jacobs WR Florida
- Eric Steinbach OL Iowa
- Kevin Williams DL Oklahoma St.
- Johnathan Sullivan DL Georgia
- Antwan Peek LB Cincinnati
- Pisa Tinoisamoa LB Hawaii
Patriots Draft Picks Per Round
- 14 (from Buffalo) and 19
- 18 (50 Overall)
- 11A (75 Overall - from Washington) and 14 (78 Overall - from New Orleans)
- 23 (120 Overall) and 31 (31 Overall – from Green Bay)
- 19 (154 Overall – from Houston) and 22 (157 Overall)
- 21 (193 Overall)
- 11 (225 Overall – from St. Louis), 20 (234 Overall), and 25 (239 Overall - from New Orleans)
2002 Draft Results