by Scott Benson

The time has come again, mercifully, for us to put away this foolishness for another year and close the books on the Patriots’ 2007 NFL Draft. The weekend wasn’t at all what we expected it to be – and that makes it a fairly typical draft weekend after all.

The Pats made eight picks today, in most cases selecting players that were so obscure (at least in terms of the draft sites) that I wondered if they actually existed. Here’s a quick rundown of the choices, and the links lead to NFL Draft Scout profiles (what there are of them):

DT Kareem Brown, Miami
OT Clint Oldenburg, Colorado State
OLB Justin Rogers, SMU
CB Mike Richardson, Notre Dame
RB Justise Hairston, Central Connecticut
OT Corey Hilliard, Oklahoma State
ILB Oscar Lua, USC
C Mike Elgin, Iowa

Brown and Hairston I knew of, vaguely, thanks to the BSMW Game Day Rumor Inventory. The rest, it was honestly the first time I had heard their names after two-plus months of reading about the draft. That means nothing, of course, but only the most optimistic draftnik could argue that much hay was made with today’s picks. Brown may have some upside, but how many of the rest will seriously threaten for a spot? Not that we should expect any more at this stage of the draft, anyway. I like that the back, Hairston, has good size, and that Rogers can rush the passer, and there’s some o-line hopefuls, but let’s face it – at best, we’re hoping to slide one or two of them to the practice squad in September.

The actual selections made by the Patriots in this 2007 draft may end up quickly forgotten, but not many New England fans will forget the day their team traded for, of all people, Randy Moss.

In his prime, his sheer production and influence on the defense and on the game was off the charts. Any team would want that, including the Patriots, the notoriously receiver-thin conference runner-up. In his prime, he could score every play, from anywhere on the field. Quick – name the last Patriot you could say that about. Yet there has never been a damn thing palatable about Moss. He’s the worst example of an insular, inflated professional athlete; the perpetual social misfit, unable to tie his own goddam shoes without alienating his shoelaces. And he can’t help but take it straight to the field. Even reading the transcripts of his conference call today, there were cringe-worthy moments. He’s a loose cannon that will make Brian Cox sound like Anthony Pleasant.

Plus, I think there is a reasonably significant question as to whether he’s even three-quarters the football player he once was. Or if he’ll ever give enough effort to answer the question. It all comes down to just how bad Moss wants this Super Bowl he’s already got himself in. We’ll know soon enough. God help the Patriots to maintain the leverage to dispatch him if he’s just talking through his hat.

How’d you like to be Nick Caserio? I think he’s going to have to be hands-on, don’t you? I don’t know – tough call.

Even I, an avowed run-first guy, have spent a few minutes running through the depth chart on this one. Are Patriots fans ready for Moss and Stallworth as a starting pair? The steady Wes Welker working the slot as a third down option? If they really get on a roll, they could add Chad Jackson and Kelley Washington to the mix, and what happens to Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney? Gaffney in particular was terrific in the playoffs, and you wonder – is there no place for him? And what of Troy Brown, a team leader and still key contributor? Could the Pats suddenly have an embarrassment of riches?

I know for damn sure they’re not running on 2nd and 8, ever. Still, this will be interesting to watch.

So Moss will of course forever be the face of the 2007 Patriots Draft, for better or worse, but the Pats may have given their depleated defensive backfield a boost with the addition of the versatile Brandon Meriweather. There’s question about his character (at least until Moss got here) because he behaved at times like the worst kind of hot head, apparently. But if he’s got himself together this fall, he can play corner in coverage packages and perhaps even compete for the starting job at free safety. I think it says something about Meriweather that the Trader Pats thought at least enough of him not to deal away his pick, like they did with the following two selections.

I realize that last one was a reach.

The way the Pats stockpiled picks for next year’s draft is perhaps also a bigger story than their first round selection this weekend. The Pats of course traded their 28th pick for a 2009 first rounder that could be 10 (worst case) or even 20 (best case) spots better. Later, they exchanged a late third rounder in 07 for a (almost certain) early third rounder in 08.

That will leave them with five first-day picks – and the driver’s seat – next April.

Well, that’s it for me. Thanks to everybody that tuned in over the past couple of months, and especially to those who dropped a line to share a thought or suggestion or two along the way. Thanks to Bruce Allen, and as always, the rest of the Game Day Crew. In the end, it may not have been the draft we expected, but it was a lot of fun just the same.

We’ll have a couple of items to share with you this week, but for the most part, we’re going to power down for while and be back with a vengeance sometime around the first of August, with our most comprehensive Game Day offerings yet. See you then.