Loaded For Next Year
As always the Patriots were active in the trade market on draft weekend. Not only did Bill Belichick and Co. move around the 2010 draft to maximize value and target specific players, but they once again added picks in future drafts. Already holding the Raiders' first-round pick in 2011 thanks to last summer's Richard Seymour trade, New England sent a third-round pick to the Panthers in this year's draft for a second rounder next spring. As it stands today, the Patriots will have four picks in the first two rounds of 2011, the third straight year for the Patriots.
Forget Kool-aid, Patriots Drinking Gatorade
Gatorade is often seen on the sidelines of both college and professional football. But apparently in New England it's also a draft theory, as in collect all the former Florida Gators you can get. Tapping into Bill Belichick's friendship with Urban Meyer, New England took three Gators in the draft in Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes and Aaron Hernandez. With his many visits to Gainesville in recent springs, Belichick became quite familiar with Florida roster of talented prospects.
"I think it was one of those years that they had a lot of players coming out into the draft and I do feel like I knew them fairly well," Belichick admitted. "I had the opportunity ... Coach Meyer invited me to their clinic in the spring similar to what I did at Rutgers this year and so I was down there, did the clinic and also watched them in spring ball. So I saw all these players in spring practice a year ago. So I kind of got a little bit of a jump on them there. There were a lot of players that I feel like I've seen a couple times down there and talked to. Then we brought them in and interviewed them here, saw them at the combine, so probably a little more than a normal school. Part of it was the luck of the draw of being down there last year."
Having NFL bloodlines is generally listed as a positive on a draft prospect's scouting reports, and seemed to carry some weight with the 2010 draft in New England. Three of the Patriots' 2010 draft picks have relatives who currently play in the NFL. First-round pick Devin McCourty's twin brother, Jason, plays for the Tennessee Titans. Second-round pick TE Rob Gronkowski's brother, Dan, is a tight end for the Detroit Lions, and second-round pick LB Brandon Spikes' cousin is San Francisco 49ers LB Takeo Spikes. Devin and Jason are among 11 sets of twins that have been on NFL teams.
For the second straight year the Patriots dipped into the ranks of prospects hailing from Eastern Europe to select Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko. Mesko, who is from Romania, joins German-born tackle and 2009 second-round pick Sebastian Vollmer. Mesko completes the trifecta of special teams draft picks in recent years as the team added Stephen Gostkowski (fourth round, 2006) and long snapper Jake Ingram (sixth round, 2009).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "When our doctors said he was OK." -- Bill Belichick on when he became comfortable with second-round tight end Rob Gronkowski's back injury.
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