UDFA of Note: Kyle Croskey/G/Central Michigan, Jasen Esposito/T/Kutztown,
Chas Gessner/WR/Brown, Michael Hayes/WR/Southern, Ricklan Holmes/CB/Oklahoma
State, Jason Hunt/LB/Cincinnati, Chad Lee/LB/Louisville, Chris Massey/S/Oklahoma
State, Shawn Mayer/S/Penn State, Rob Milanese/WR/Penn, Buck
Rasmussen/DE/Nebraska-Omaha, Walter Sampson/DT/Louisiana-Lafayette, Dan
Stricker/WR/Vanderbilt, Kerry Watkins/WR/Georgia Tech, Matt Word/LBIowa State
Staying "pat" with their initial choice in round one, New England
filled a big need on their defensive line with a top player, Ty Warren.
Warren, a large, athletic lineman who can be used on the nose or as an end in
the Pats three-four system, surged to the forefront with his performances both
as a senior and in the post season. Branded as a "soft" player
who would "turn it on and off" Warren displayed a lot of grit as he
roughed it with an injury in 2002 and was a premiere lineman in the Big 12.
At the top of his game he is a dominant force and Bellicheck must find a way to
keep him there.
Eugene Wilson in the top of round two was good value. Falling slightly
after a poor senior campaign, Wilson is still a solid cover man with a good head
for his position. Like Warren, he must kick it into gear and work hard off
the field if he's to reach his upper most level.
The next pick in round two, Bethel Johnson, was a major reach. Johnson
looks great in shorts and sneakers, even plays to his athletic numbers on
occasion but for the most part has been plagued with inconsistency and was
minimally productive in college. He needs a lot of work.
Though he may not be the proto-typical two-gap lineman, Dan Klecko is an
asset anyway you cut it. As tenacious a player as any you'll find in this
draft, Klecko overcomes his lack of size with sheer intensity and determination.
His high revving motor never stops yet at the same time, Klecko plays a smart
brand of football. Expect him to be rotated into the line-up and be a
demon on special teams.
Asante Samuel disappointed many with his pre-draft workouts but offers a
solid fourth cover corner that can be put on the field in nickel coverage. Dan
Koppen adds depth at both guard and center.
Both Kliff Kingsbury and Spencer Nead will have a tough time making the squad
as each has limited upside for the NFL and are only average athlete's.
Their last two choices could both be steals. Immediately after the
draft we detailed
the precipitous drop down draft boards by Tully Banta-Cain, a situation now
behind him. Banta-Cain is perfectly suited to stand up over tight end in a
three-four or put his hand on the ground in pass rushing situations when the
Patriots line up four defenders on the front. Ethan Kelley may surprise a
lot of people when he's placed at the position he is built for; nose tackle.
Kelley could make the final roster as a two-way player; remember, he was an
excellent offensive lineman at Baylor before moving to the defensive side of the
New England kept the momentum going with a solid group of rookie free agents.
Chas Gessner, Michael Hayes and to a certain extent Dan Stricker all have a shot
at sticking as each brings size to the receiving ranks. We mistakenly had
Chad Lee listed as signing with another team but the Pat's system fits him
better as a LOLB and keep close eye on Matt Word. The Iowa State
linebacker got little press before the draft even after several good workouts,
but is perfectly suited for the weak side in the Patriots system and should lend
a helping hand on special teams.
Analysis: You have to be impressed with the Patriots work in April;
they filled short term needs yet at the same time their collection of players
offers a lot of long term potential. Factor in the added picks New England
will receive in 2004 as a result of maneuvering in this year's draft and the
Pats will once again be able to fill need areas of linebacker and receiver in
twelve months with players that right now look like superior prospects.
TFY Draft Preview
The Patriots started the draft with two first round picks, ended the day with one but added a ton of choices for the April 2004 selection meeting. Along the way they also chose several quality prospects.