logoby Scott Benson

The Final Countdown (insidious earworm) to the 73rd Annual NFL Draft has begun, so its time to dust off the old Sunday Links coffee cup for a springtime spin around the morning papers. The locals are cranking up for a full week of Pats chatter, so let’s get started.

The Globe is focusing on a position group a day in their draft coverage, and this morning, it’s the quarterbacks. Naturally, BC’s Matt Ryan is at the top of the list, as he is on many draft boards around the league. Michael Vega has a sit down with the Eagle signalcaller, and then runs us through the gauntlet Ryan has had to run this spring as one of the NFL’s top prospects.

I’m thinking Ryan and the Baltimore Ravens may be the best things the Patriots have going for them in this draft. The former Heisman candidate has been rumored to be sliding down the Top Ten board as quarterback-needy teams like the Dolphins and Falcons seem focused on defensive players first. It appears, though, that the Ravens (picking at #8) won’t pass on Ryan, so if anyone wants to cut in front of them, theyll be trying to work a deal with either the Jets or the Pats at 6 & 7. How about the Panthers (#13) or the Bears (#14) as possible trade partners?

Mike Reiss takes a closer look at two more quarterback prospects – Lousiville’s Brian Brohm and Tennessee’s Erik Ainge. As Mike points out, the Pats could very well be intent on adding a quarterback to spice up the backup competition in New England, though its unclear just how high they’ll reach to do so. In the back of my mind, I’m leaving open the possibility of Chad Henne with one of their third round picks, but that’s probably just because he plays for Michigan. You can’t blame me.

Reiss closes out the Globe offerings with a jam-packed draft-based Notes column. You know, when you list Phil Savage’s off-season trades and signings all together like that, they look awful. You’d think he was general manager of the Broncos. Also, Jeremy Shockey couldn’t ruin the Super Bowl for the Giants, so naturally, he’d like to be traded to some team he can ruin. Naturally, some sucker will bite, which will further line New York’s draft pockets. The Giants are leading a charmed life these days.

Bill Belichick name-checked the 1991 Draft in his mid-week press conference, which sent John Tomase of the Herald and Jim Donaldson of the ProJo off on a search of the archives. Sam Jankovich and Joe Mendes? Can Coach Mac be far behind? Douglas Flynn of the MetroWest Daily News is eyes forward, though, as he scopes out the myriad possibilities that exist within those first six picks of next weekend’s draft.

Shalise Manza Young closes out the morning links with a look at the Pats defensive line group