Just a few days after Nick Caserio’s very informative conference on the draft process, Patriot’s director of college scouting Jon Robinson expands on that seminar in an interview with Patriots Football Weekly‘s Paul Perillo titled Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood.
There has been some debate as to whether or not the Patriots would or should look at a quarterback in this draft, and Robinson throws another log onto the flames of that topic, saying the “strengths of the class are obviously the quarterbacks right now with Gabbert, Newton, Mallett, Kaepernick, Ponder … you can run down the list. It’s a quarterback-driven league and if you don’t have one you’re looking for one. So, all of those players are good football players and have drawn quite a bit of attention.”
Many people, both fans and media, have suggested that the Patriots should look for Tom Brady’s eventual successor in this draft, and Robinson’s comments will surely be used by some as why that is sound reasoning. Personally I disagree; I think the team is still a couple of years away from that point. Unless a player is a late round draft pick or undrafted free agent, the scarcity of top picks combined with the double-edged sword of free agency and the salary cap makes the concept of using an early pick with the plan he never gets on the playing field for two or three years an outdated and irrational concept.
To me this is more likely a smokescreen by the Patriots organization orchestrated by Bill Belichick. The more other teams covet quarterbacks, the better for the Pats. Perhaps some team will overpay to trade up to draft one. Maybe some teams will stay put and draft a quarterback earlier than that player deserved to go. All that will result in players at other positions – specifically defensive end, outside linebacker, and offensive line – drop in the draft, hopefully landing right in the laps of the Patriots with an exceptional value late in the first round or early in the second.
Robinson also went on to have some interesting comments on potential pass rushers in this draft. “If he’s a defensive end in college does he have the capability of standing up and playing outside linebacker? Or maybe an interior defensive tackle, is he big enough and strong enough to move over and play nose tackle in a 3-4 front? Those are some of the questions you have to ask yourself when you evaluate the player. Because if you think he can do it but in the end he can’t, then you’re just trying to put a square peg in a round hole.”
Bill Belichick has always placed a premium on versatility from his players, and Robnson’s comments reflect that philosophy. Whether it’s switching between a 4-3 and 3-4, playing multiple positions or being able to be productive in both passing and rushing down and distance situations, the more different tasks a player can do and do well, the better fit he is on this team.
Robinson goes on to give more examples, but I’ll wrap it up here. You can read the full article on the Patriot’s site at Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood; I thought it was an excellent article, well worth the time it took to read it.
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