April 29, 2007
Day One Thoughts and Commentary
By:  Darren Schwandt
PatsFans.com Fan Columnist

Contact me with all feedback at Darren.Schwandt@asu.edu Thanks!

As day one finished up and I made my rounds checking the football and New England Patriots forums that I frequent, I felt only one thing… disappointment. No, not disappointment in Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli and the rest of the Patriots’ front office, but rather disappointment in the fans. Two lessons I assumed all Patriots fans had learned by now are;

1. Always trust Belichick and Pioli regardless of the circumstances.

2. Have patience.

Pats fans all over the country have seemed to forget the two cardinals rules of being a fan of this franchise. I wanted to tear my hair out after reading comments like the following on certain fan sites:

“(Belichick) was a perennial loser in Cleveland and in New England until a young QB entered the game... (Belichick) is a total idiot.”

And other immensely insightful comments such as:

“I cannot see ANY value that we got out of this draft so far.”

It’s no wonder why sports fans around the league have started associating us with New York Yankee fans and another reason I am incredibly thankful these draft day decisions are not left up to the fans. Although these wildly pessimistic followers do not make up the majority, it is still puzzling and frustrating to see. We just had one of our most productive offseasons in history and set ourselves up beautifully for the future. Here is why I love what Belichick and Pioli did on day one:

- Brandon Meriweather was as good of a player as we could have hoped for without moving up from the 24 spot. He is arguably the best defensive back after LaRon Landry and easily one of the top three defenders in terms of athleticism. Meriweather brings three things to our defense that we were absolutely desperate of; speed, youth and depth. Look no further then last year’s AFC Championship game when our defense broke down in the second half. Many have compared Meriweather to former AP Defensive Player of the Year Ed Reed, which in some respects is a fair comparison. Both are absurdly athletic defensive backs from the University of Miami with playmaking ability. However, I think Meriweather compares more favorably to Bob Sanders of the Indianapolis Colts, except with an extra two and a half inches. The situation with Meriweather is really an ideal one. He can come in, learn the position from one of the games greatest enforcers, Rodney Harrison, and have time to get integrated with the system before being thrust into the starting lineup.

- I am still not sure why so many people are frowning down upon the trade with San Francisco. The powers that be clearly were not thrilled with what was available at that point and made a trade that could result in a top 15 pick in 2008. San Francisco improved a lot in 2006, but an early look at their 2007 schedule shows a tough road with games against many quality opponents. They have dates on the road with Carolina, New York (Giants), Pittsburgh, and Seattle. Their home schedule does not get any easier either as they host potential playoff contenders Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans and Seatlle. With a schedule like that and a relatively inexperienced team with and a lack of depth, especially on the offensive line, that 2008 first rounder is looking better and better by the second. Sure, we could probably have benefited from taking a Paul Posluszny or David Harris with the 28th pick, but it is not about the short term and we should benefit greatly from our patience. This trade should also shut up any of the pundits that have thrown out the idea that Belichick is trying to load his deck for one “final run” with New England. If anything, these moves made today prove that Belichick is here for the long haul.

- We also made out well in the deal with the Oakland Raiders. I am sure just about everyone thought we had landed Randy Moss when it was announced that we had traded our third rounder to Oakland. For better or worse, we did not trade for Moss and picked up a third rounder in 2008 and a seventh rounder in exchange for our third rounder this year. Clearly, Belichick and Pioli again were not impressed with what was available and figured they would take their chances in 2008 rather than reach on someone they were not crazy about. It may not seem like a exciting trade now, but our third rounder this year was one of the last picks in the round and one has to assume that Oakland will finish towards the bottom again in 2007, which would make their third rounder next year somewhere in the high 60’s. In the end, we should move up a good twenty plus spots. Again, it’s all about patience, value, and not reaching on players. This trade should also only further prove the point that Belichick wants to stay in New England.

- Bear in mind that even though we only ended up with one player on Day One this year, we still have nine picks for Day Two. Almost assuredly we will deal some of those picks for future draft picks. We will probably end up drafting players with about six or seven of those picks. Patriots fans should go into Day Two with a sense of confidence though, as Belichick and Pioli have proven to be successful late round drafters. Players like Asante Samuel, Dan Koppen, David Givens, Stephen Gostkowski, Jarvis Green, Tully Banta-Cain, and some guy named Tom Brady were all Day Two picks and they turned out pretty well. Another thing that is worth mulling over is the second rounder we traded for wide receiver Wes Welker. Thinking logically, Welker will probably out produce and do more things for this team in 2007 than any second round rookie would have done for us this year. Welker’s versatility and value can not be overlooked and he is set to have a big season.

So as we approach the final day of the NFL Draft, I offer some basic advice for Patriots fans everywhere. Stay calm, stay patient, and most importantly keep the faith in Belichick in Pioli.

Thoughts, questions, comments? Contact me at Darren.Schwandt@asu.edu Thanks!

 Darren Schwandt
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