Bill Belichick said they got off to a good start Saturday when Aaron Hernandez fell to them in the fourth round, and even went so far to say that he was surprised to land the Florida tight end.
On the whole, I'd expect the Patriots' first seven picks — Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Cunningham, Taylor Price, Hernandez and Zoltan Mesko — to have an impact on the 2010 roster. The last five selections should compete for roster spots.
I'll break down the class with more detail in the coming days, so please keep an eye out for that. Otherwise, it's been a fun three days from Gillette Stadium, and I'm glad to have made it through my fourth draft here. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
5:32 p.m.: ESPN has reported that the Patriots reached an agreement with defensive lineman Gerard Warren, who was released by the Raiders last month. Warren fits the weekly theme as a former Florida Gator, and he was the third pick in the 2001 draft. Warren was taken three spots ahead of Richard Seymour, and is the only player taken in the top six who hasn't earned a Pro Bowl bid.
5:15 p.m.: Weber State wide receiver Tim Toone is Mr. Irrelevent, heading to the Lions with the 255th and final pick of the 2010 draft. This three-day marathon is in the books.
5:03 p.m.: Zac Robinson was the quarterback who took the job from Bobby Reid, who was the subject of head coach Mike Gundy's rant that vigorously defended his status as a 40-year-old man.
5:02 p.m.: And with their 250th pick, the Patriots have taken Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson.
4:57 p.m.: The Patriots have made two picks at Nos. 247 and 248, taking Alabama defensive end Brandon Deaderick and Georgia defensive lineman Kade Weston.
4:19 p.m.: The Patriots have made seven trades in this draft, and they'll come away with 12 picks.
3:24 p.m.: The Patriots acquired Washington's pick at No. 208 to select Vanderbilt tackle Thomas Welch. The Pats sent Nos. 229 and 231 to acquire No. 208. New England's last three selections are Nos. 247, 248 and 250, and they must use all of them because they're compensatory selections.
3:17 p.m.: The Patriots have taken North Carolina State center Ted Larsen with their sixth-round pick. It's the first offensive lineman they've taken in this draft, and the Pats are pretty set along the line. This seems to fill a need for depth. Larsen is a guy who could probably compete for a spot on the practice squad.
3:12 p.m.: Take two things into consideration when looking at the Patriots' selection of Zoltan Mesko. First, they obviously liked him enough to use a fifth-round pick on the Michigan punter, so that's a good sign. But it also shows what is left among potential draft candidates.
Surely, history dictates there will be some Pro Bowlers selected in the sixth and seventh rounds, but those guys beat the odds. Bill Belichick is big on maximizing usage out of his players — remember how much he spoke about Devin McCourty's value as a four-down player — and Mesko will only see the field a handful of times each game. Granted, the Patriots needed a punter badly, but if they were really high on any of the remaining players, they would have taken them over a specialist.
3:05 p.m.: The NFL Network crew has been saying some really kind things about JaMarcus Russell.
2:58 p.m.: Aaron Hernandez referenced Drew Bledsoe five times during his eight-minute conference call with the New England media.
2:39 p.m.: So, Aaron Hernandez said he was a huge Drew Bledsoe and Patriots fan when he grew up in Bristol, Conn. However, Hernandez didn't seem to know who Ben Coates was, or when Bledsoe was drafted.
2:14 p.m.: Zoltan Mesko said he first dunked a basketball when he was in the eighth grade. I'm not jealous. Nope. Not at all.
2:00 p.m.: Zoltan Mesko said he'll be star struck when he first meets Tom Brady, who was also a Michigan alum, and the punter sounded a little nervous when he was told his locker would very likely be adjacent to Brady's. Mesko probably won't tell Brady he was actually drafted a round higher, though. "It's not where you start," Mesko said. "It's where you finish."
Want to know how popular Mesko will be in New England? He had an 11-minute conference call with the media, which was about three minutes longer than the first six conference calls with 2010 draft picks.
1:31 p.m.: Devin McCourty's media session was fairly standard and uneventful. He stood on a stage with his new Patriots jersey and spent a few minutes speaking to reporters. He comes across as a very well-spoken and mature kid. Aaron Hernandez will join us on a conference call momentarily.
1:02 p.m.: Zoltan Mesko's father was a professional bowler, and Jason Campbell was traded to the Raiders. I bet you never expected to read those 15 words in the same sentence when you woke up this morning.
12:52 p.m.: So, the Patriots went ahead and drafted a punter, and they took him from one of Bill Belichick's other favorite schools — Michigan. Zoltan Mesko is heading to New England after the Pats selected him with the 150th pick. Belichick was asked last week about the possibility of drafting a punter, and he said in doing so, it would be with the expectation that the punter makes the team. The same, he said, goes for players in specialist positions like kicker and long snapper. Hey, it worked out all right with Stephen Gostkowski and Jake Ingram. Sorry, David King.
12:35 p.m.: Just got back from Devin McCourty's media availability, which was conducted at midfield, and found out the Jets traded Leon Washington to the Seahawks. That's pretty surprising news. Washington was a serious weapon in New York, and he was someone the Patriots had to consciously game plan against. I can't believe that's a very popular move down there right now.
11:37 a.m.: About to head to the field to meet up with first-round pick Devin McCourty. I'll pass along updates afterwards.
11:25 a.m.: Someone in Patriots gear is on the field working on punting techniques. Since the Pats only have one punter on their roster, I'm going to employ my deductive reasoning skills and guess that it's David King.
11:03 a.m.: Aaron Hernandez caught 68 passes for 850 yards and five touchdowns last season at Florida. The Patriots have done a tremendous job with their two tight end picks in this draft, addressing a major need with some serious talent.
10:53 a.m.: Another really good pick by the Patriots, who selected Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez with the 113th selection. That's the Pats' third Gator in the draft.
10:51 a.m.: The Jets traded ahead of the Patriots to take USC running back Joe McKnight, who has a lot of unproven potential. It's going to be a crowded backfield in New York.
10:45 a.m.: By the way, the Patriots figured to be potential suitors for a Kirk Morrison acquisition, but Friday's selection of Brandon Spikes might have squashed that possibility.
10:43 a.m.: Not completely sure why the Raiders wanted to get rid of middle linebacker Kirk Morrison, but it was inevitable at this point. Word came down Oakland traded Morrison and a fifth-rounder to Jacksonville to move up to get Jacoby Ford.
10:40 a.m.: Wow, good for the Raiders yet again. They traded up to get Clemson wide receiver Jacoby Ford, who is even faster than Jacoby Ellsbury. Ford is a track star who can flat-out fly, and he'll be fun to watch in Oakland.
10:38 a.m.: Am I the only one who thinks Ritz Munchables look like a bad idea? Why mess with such an esteemed cracker?
10:34 a.m.: It only took about 40 hours, but the Raiders finally drafted Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell. Don't look now, but the Raiders are doing a fine job in this draft.
10:32 a.m.: Carl Lewis in on hand at the draft. Al Davis is salivating.
10:24 a.m.: Wait a second, Pete Carroll wouldn't take Taylor Mays or Everson Griffen, but he'll trade for LenDale White? What kind of world are we living in? Yes, Carroll acquired the running back from the Titans, and Starbucks better start stocking up on scones.
10:10 a.m.: And Everson Griffen has been put out of his misery. The Vikings took the USC defensive end, who has been criticized for his work ethic more than once. Good thing I put him in the first round on the majority of my mock drafts. Clearly, I know what I'm talking about.
10:07 a.m.: The Rams took Cincinnati wide receiver Mardy Gilyard with the first pick of the third day. A guy named Mardy would have been a bigger hit in Boston.
10:05 a.m.: Let's get this thing underway. Roger Goodell looks like a zombie on stage and is probably regretting his decision to make this a three-day event. Those three hours of sleep weren't enough, were they, Rog?
9:34 a.m.: I'm all set up here at Gillette for Rounds 4-7. Teams will have five minutes to make each selection throughout the day, and the NFL has estimated the draft will last until about 6 p.m. Aside from the Patriots' eight scheduled selections Saturday, the team is also introducing first-round pick Devin McCourty to the media at noon. We'll have it all covered right here.
8:05 a.m.: The Patriots are coming off of a phenomenally successful day at the draft. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham and middle linebacker Brandon Spikes figure to be instant impact players, and wide receiver Taylor Price has the physical attributes to make him an intriguing prospect heading into camps. And don't forget, the Pats also robbed Carolina of its second-round selection in 2011.
But their work isn't done. This three-day marathon continues Saturday morning at 10 a.m., and the Patriots have eight more selections before the draft hits the sheets. They'll pick once in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, and they've got five selections in the seventh round. While the Pats could continue their trading ways, they're forced to use their four compensatory selections — one in the sixth round and three in the seventh — so it promises to be another busy day at Gillette Stadium.
As always, stay with our live blog to keep up to date with all the action.
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