by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
The Patriots enter the 2009 draft with one of the most efficient and productive passing offenses in the National Football League.
Despite that embarrassment of riches, there are issues – both contractual and performance-based – that may lead New England to address the receiver position on the first day of the draft, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, April 25th.
The good news is that the dynamic duo of Randy Moss and Wes Welker are tied up for the next two seasons, at minimum. Welker’s actually on board through 2011, as are former Eagle wide out Greg Lewis and Matthew Slater, the only developmental receiver on the roster.
Chris Baker, the free agent tight end, has them all beat with a deal that takes him through 2013.
Everyone else is set to vamoose after next season. At tight end, former first round choice Ben Watson, third rounder David Thomas, and free agents Tyson DeVree and Brad Listorti are all due to play out their contracts in 2009. Outside receivers Sam Aiken and free agent Joey Galloway – the presumed ‘starter’ with Welker and Moss – will also be on their own after next season.
With eleven picks in this draft, the Patriots should be able to devote at least one or two of those choices to address their long-term receiving needs. I just don’t think – given their fairly solid outlook for the season ahead – they ought to busy themselves with it on the first day.
But we have to have someone on the board, don’t we?
Early First Day (Trade Up)
For a receiver? You have got to be shitting me.
Mid First Day (Picks 23, 34)
Pats fans have a thing about first round tight ends, because the poor things didn’t get a combination of Mike Ditka, John Mackey and Kellen Winslow Sr. from either of the first round tight ends that New England has drafted this decade.
Tough. Never mind that you’ll never convince me that Daniel Graham wasn’t perfectly worthy of the 21st pick. Let’s stay in the here and now. Considering the contracts of two of the three big league tight ends the Pats currently have, New England would be perfectly justified to consider the top tight ends in the 09 draft.
With that in mind, I offer the name of TE Brandon Pettigrew as one possibility for the 34th selection.
Think of this pick as half receiver, half offensive tackle. As a collegian, Pettigrew had over 100 career catches as a dependable short-area receiver with some run after the catch ability. But in New England, his blocking in the run game and in pass protection may be more highly prized. His size and potential as a complete, every down tight end – something that may be needed sooner rather than later in New England, even with Baker on board – puts him at the top of our day one receiver board.
Late First Day (Pick 47, 58)
You can have the Harvins and Heyward-Beys and the rest of these guys that can allegedly jump through the ceiling and run faster than sound itself. Give me the guy who can run every route in the tree, show toughness and quickness over the middle and is always exactly where he should be.
In other words, give me WR Brian Robiskie. Of all the receivers at the top of this draft, he is the surest bet. Rolls of the dice like Bethel Johnson and Chad Jackson may entice with their speed and explosiveness, but far too often they disappoint from the neck up, and the picks that were wasted on them can reverberate for years.
On the other hand, a pick spent on a dependable, consistent team player, with a demonstrated history of working on (and succeeding) with the little things, seems like no gamble at all. His size (6-3, 210), make-up (son of NFL receiver coach Terry Robiskie, and he’s played like it) and potential to contribute right away (has been frequently called the most NFL-ready receiver in the draft) have placed him near the top of a very sparse PD receiver board.
But fear not – Chris Warner will be here tomorrow to give us some alternatives with his favorite second day prospects.
Scott Benson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org