The New England Patriots are prepared to wrap up the draft with Rounds 3 through 7. In the past, these five rounds have produced the likes of Brady and Bruschi, Koppen and Gostkowski.
If the first day of the NFL Draft can make a team, the second day of the NFL Draft can break a team.
The first day behind them, the New England Patriots head into today’s second day (10 a.m.: ESPN and the NFL Network) holding seven picks – fourth in the third round, one each in the fifth-through-seventh rounds.
After enjoying the luxury of 10 minutes per pick in the first round and seven per choice in the second, selections come in rapid fire (five minutes per pick) on Day Two.
League-wide, teams scramble to mount a hurry-up offense.
Given that, how significant can this day really be?
Perhaps far moreso than you may think.
Consider that of the 66 players on the Patriots’ roster heading into the start of the draft on Saturday:
- 11 were selected by the team in the first two rounds;
- 17 were selected by the team in the third-through-seventh rounds;
- 17 were signed as veteran free agents;
- 17 were signed as either rookie or first-year free agents;
- three were acquired via trades;
- one was claimed off waivers.
Somewhere along the way, you may have heard the story of a man named Brady – a sixth-round draft pick from Michigan who went on to quarterback his team to three Super Bowl championships in four years.
That was the equivalent of striking gridiron gold.
But as far back as 13 years ago, the Patriots were scooping up linebacker Tedy Bruschi in Round Three – the same round that yielded starters Ellis Hobbs (cornerback) and Nick Kaczur (offensive tackle) nine years later. Defensive end Jarvis Green, safety James Sanders and place-kicker Stephen Gostkowski were all fourth-round picks at one time or another. In 2003, center Dan Koppen slipped to the fifth.
In 2000, Brady went in the sixth. Back for his second tour of duty in New England, linebacker Tully Banta-Cain was originally a seventh-round selection of the Patriots in 2003.
Of course, Day Two has also produced the likes of players who came and went, barely breaking a sweat in New England. There was no need for Spencer Nead (seventh round, 2003). The not-so-mighty Casey (Tisdale, seventh round, 2000) struck out. Andy Stokes (seventh round, 2005) truly was “Mr. Irrelevant.” Unlike Stokes, Dave Stachelski (fifth round, 2000) wasn’t the very last pick in his draft, but with all due respect to his parents, he sure was irrelevant in these parts.
A third-round pick of the Patriots in the 2001 draft, Brock Williams never played a meaningful down for the team.
“We hope we’ll be able to use our picks productively in whatever way that is,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said during a predraft press conference at Gillette Stadium. “Sometimes we’ve used our picks to take players at the end of the draft like the Matt Cassels and the Patrick Passes, the Tom Bradys and guys like that have come in the sixth and seventh rounds.”
The options do not end there, however.
“Sometimes we’ve traded (the second-day picks) into next year like we did with our thir d last year to San Diego,” said Belichick. “Like we did one year with Oakland where we traded a sixth and a seventh into a fifth the following year. I hope we’ll be able to use (those picks) productively.
“What that is would just be a guess at this point in time. I think we just have to wait and see what the options are … Once the options are declared, then we’ll try to make the best decision we can.”