draft_logo.jpgby Scott Benson

Coach Bill Belichick held his annual pre-draft press conference yesterday at Gillette, so let’s run the transcripts under the black light to decode any secret messages….

Belichick acknowledged that the team has pared down the list of players they’ll consider with the 7th pick in the draft, which should happen around 4:00 p.m. on Saturday the 26th. The coach says quarterback is the only position exempt from consideration in that spot, and as he has many times before, he stressed you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole no matter how hard you try. The longview Pats will go for the best player they can get regardless of their perceived needs, and let Belichick sort ’em out later. So if they pick a lineman or even a running back there, even after we fans have been combing through every linebacker and cornerback profile for the last three months, don’t say we weren’t warned. Or that we shouldn’t have known better in the first place.

If his comments yesterday mean anything, I’m guessing it won’t be a cornerback at #7. Belichick lauded the depth of the corner class, which may mean they’ll look to pick from the large group of secondary players that seem clustered in the second and third rounds.

Belichick may have put a damper on the hopes for an immediate impact from a linebacker when he opined that this year’s 3-4 class was “about the same” as the last few years, when the Pats noteably took a pass despite the advancing age of their existing unit. However, the Pats will reportedly pass on an offer to Carolina restricted free agent Adam Seward, which may mean they believe they can get a similar player with the fifth round pick they would have had to give to the Panthers. So there may be some smoke here – but all things considered, I’m not getting too set on a pass rushing edge player who can step in right away.

Belichick touched on the reduction to ten minutes per first round pick, and suggested this may make it harder for teams to make trades on the fly. This should make those first seven picks a lot of fun – with no clear cut first round choice, and a variance of opinion of the players to follow, teams are going to have to think and act quick as things sort out around them. If Matt Ryan comes sliding towards the Pats, for example, will that 7th pick become more attractive to a team(s) that wants to sneak ahead of Baltimore at #8? And will the teams have enough time to put together the right deal?

One thing we may already know. There’s 60 players on the roster now, and with 8 draft picks coming, you can expect up to a dozen UDFA signings in the days following the draft.

In other news, I’m happy to report the arrival of Chris Warner, the newest member of the Patriots Daily staff. Chris is a longtime Pats fan who will be writing our game recaps this fall. Right now, he’s in the lab cooking up a couple of draft pieces to go up next week. Stay tuned for that, and once again, welcome Chris.

In the meantime, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by.