11:21 p.m.: Bill Belichick was in a really good mood during his news conference a few minutes ago. At one point, he even paused mid-sentence to smile and pose for a reporter who was taking a picture, which drew a good laugh from the media in attendance.
“It was a good day,” Belichick said. “We certainly improved our team.”
The Patriots killed it on the second day of the draft, selecting tight end Rob Gronkowski, outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, middle linebacker Brandon Spikes and wide receiver Taylor Price.
I really believe Spikes is going to be the pick of the draft for this team. He’ll pair really well with Jerod Mayo — Belichick called them powerful, explosive, instinctive players — on the inside for a number of years in New England. “It will be fun to watch that whole group,” Belichick said of his linebacking corps.
10:16 p.m.: I’ll do my best not to refer to Taylor Price as Taylor Hall. A few things stuck out during his conference call: First, the Patriots were the only team that worked him out before the draft. Next, Ohio has been a run-first, option-based offense, which led to his limited statistical production. And third, Price said he admires and models his game after Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings who went to Western Michigan, which is another MAC school.
9:59 p.m.: Taylor Price will be on a conference call in a few minutes. He caught 149 passes for 2,019 yards and 14 touchdowns in his four-year career. He also ran a 4.33-second 40, which is some serious speed.
9:52 p.m.: The Patriots have two first-rounders and two second-rounders in the 2011 draft after the latest trade with Carolina.
9:49 p.m.: The Patriots selected Ohio wide receiver Taylor Price. More coming on him.
9:47 p.m.: Goodness gracious. The Panthers took that pick from the Patriots to take Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards, who projects as a wide receiver in the NFL and was a tremendously exciting player to watch in college. However, Edwards should have never in a million years gone before the sixth round. Awful pick.
9:46 p.m.: Another draft, another steal. The Patriots traded the 89th pick to Carolina for a second-rounder in 2011. Teams love mortgaging their future to the Patriots.
9:33 p.m.: The Browns took Texas quarterback Colt McCoy with the 84th pick.
9:20 p.m.: Just got off conference calls with Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham. Gronkowski said he believed he would have been taken by the Ravens if the Patriots didn’t trade up two spots to get in front of Baltimore.
8:38 p.m.: Brandon Spikes, who was taken by the Patriots with the 62nd pick, is dating Doc Rivers’ daughter.
8:22 p.m.: It’s a Gator party in New England. The Patriots selected Florida middle linebacker Brandon Spikes with the 62nd pick. Spikes was believed to have first-round potential until he couldn’t eclipse the five-second mark in the 40 during his workouts. Spikes has great ball skills, and he can make his way all around the field. Really, really strong pick for the Patriots, who are killing it in the second round.
8:15 p.m.: The Seahawks drafted Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate, which might be beneficial to the Patriots if Seattle now finds Deion Branch to be expendable. It’s also interesting that Pete Carroll selected Tate over USC wideout Damian Williams.
8:08 p.m.: Good pick for the Browns, who traded up to take Tennessee running back Montario Hardesty. He’s a really solid player and much better than Ben Tate, who was taken by Houston just ahead of him.
8:02 p.m.: The Patriots have traded the 58th pick to the Texans for the 62nd and 150th picks.
7:45 p.m.: Jermaine Cunningham is 6-foot-3 and 266 pounds, which makes him look more like an outside linebacker than a defensive end. Cunningham fills the pass-rushing role the Patriots need, and he recorded 19 1/2 sacks and 34 tackles for loss in his career.
7:40 p.m.: The Patriots have drafted Florida defensive lineman Jermaine Cunningham with the 53rd pick.
7:39 p.m.: The Patriots are back on the clock, and their Twitter account says they’re not going to trade the pick. Plenty of talent available here.
7:22 p.m.: Keeping you up to speed, the Patriots hold picks 53, 58, 89 and 90 for the Friday portion of the draft.
7:19 p.m.: Jimmy Clausen has been put out of his misery. The Panthers finally selected the quarterback with the 48th pick in the draft, which is tremendous value for the kid who could have gone in the top 10.
7:12 p.m.: The Patriots traded their 47th pick to the Cardinals in exchange for the 58th and 89th picks in the draft.
7:10 p.m.: The Patriots traded their 44th and 190th pick (sixth round) to move up to No. 42.
7:04 p.m.: The Ravens have rescued Texas defensive end/outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, who reportedly only has one knee. Meanwhile, Rob Gronkowski is dancing around on stage with a Patriots helmet on.
7:00 p.m.: And that’s how you do that. The Patriots traded up two spots to select Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski, who some believed was the best tight end in the 2010 draft. This was a necessary move from New England, because it looked almost certain that Baltimore would take Gronkowski with the 43rd pick. This was a really good pick, and Gronkowski is so excited he’s crying on television.
6:58 p.m.: If the rumors are true, this is a nice aggressive move by the Patriots, who traded up to No. 42 and drafted Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski.
6:51 p.m.: The Bills must feel pretty confident with their offensive line, as they just selected Central Florida defensive tackle Torell Troup.
6:47 p.m.: Miami just snagged Utah defensive end Koa Misi, and Dan Marino announced the selection amid a slight shower of boos from the New York crowd. Pretty funny moment. Please hold the Jason Taylor jokes.
6:45 p.m.: Tampa Bay moved up three spots to take Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn. Good pick for that defunct offense.
6:40 p.m.: Jim Brown just announced Cleveland’s pick, which was T.J. “Don’t Call Me Charlie” Ward.
6:34 p.m.: Interesting parallel here: The Dolphins traded Donovan McNabb for a second-round pick and used it on a safety — South Florida’s Nate Allen. Last year, the Patriots traded Matt Cassel for a second-round pick and took a safety — Oregon’s Patrick Chung. Only the best analysis here.
6:28 p.m.: Man, the Chiefs just got themselves a lightning bolt in Ole Miss running back/wide receiver Dexter McCluster. He’s such a fun player to watch, and he’ll be a star in Kansas City. One of my favorite people in the draft.
6:21 p.m.: Wow, the Bucs are going to be serious in the middle of their defensive line. They took UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price with the 35th pick, and he’ll pair up with Gerald McCoy on the interior. Good luck to the guards and centers in the NFC South.
6:15 p.m.: No trades yet. The Vikings took cornerback Chris Cook at No. 34. Cook is a big dude, standing tall at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds.
6:09 p.m.: Sam Bradford didn’t get his first big weapon, but he did get some protection on the right side of his line. The Rams took Indiana’s Rodger Saffold to improve their offensive line. Nice, steady pick.
6:02 p.m.: The Rams are back on the clock, and the second round is underway.
5:52 p.m.: After letting it settle for a little bit, here’s my best and worst picks from the opening round.
Best picks, in no particular order:
Eric Berry: It was hard to imagine Scott Pioli taking a safety so high, but he deserves some real credit for having the guts to take the Tennessee safety. Great job.
Derrick Morgan: The Titans needed a defensive end, and it’s believed they got the best one in the draft. They sat patient at No. 16 and let the Georgia Tech product fall in their laps.
Bryan Bulaga: Ditto for the Packers, who needed a left tackle, and the former Iowa star tumbled to Green Bay.
Jerry Hughes: Remember how worried the Colts were when Dwight Freeney was banged up before the Super Bowl? Now they’ve got Hughes to back up Freeney and Robert Mathis.
Worst picks, in no particular order:
Tim Tebow: OK, this one is in order. I think Tebow is junk, and the Broncos gave up a second-, third- and fourth-round pick to trade up to draft him. I might be contradicting myself with this thought, though. This might be a best-case scenario for Tebow, who will get a chance to learn under Josh McDaniels. If anyone can make Tebow a good player, it should be the Broncos head coach.
C.J. Spiller: Yeah, he’ll pack some excitement into Buffalo’s lethargic offense, but the Bills needed about a million other things. Running back was basically their most set position, and they passed on so much talent with the ninth pick.
Ryan Mathews: I’m a big Mathews advocate, but the Chargers panicked here. They gave up their first- and second-round picks in a combo deal to move up 16 spots for Mathews. After Spiller went earlier than expected, the Chargers knew they couldn’t gamble and miss the running back they wanted, but they paid a ransom to get him and will miss out on a good chance to improve their team in the second round.
5:30 p.m.: Just got to Gillette, where it’s dead quiet compared to Thursday night. Yet, it will be much busier once the draft starts, considering the Patriots trifecta of second-round selections.
2:26 p.m.: It looks like we might have some answers regarding Texas defensive end/outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, who fell out of the first round Thursday night.
The Internet is fulling up with plenty of rumors that stem from a report on Scout.com (we can’t find the link because it’s behind a pay wall) that indicates a number of NFL teams believe Kindle will need microfracture surgery on his knee. That’s a pretty devastating surgery for an athlete, and it typically takes much more than one year to get back to playing action. It can also take two years — if ever — for a player to fully recover from such a surgery.
If the Patriots are one of those teams who are skeptical of Kindle’s health, we now know why they passed on him in the first round.
8:05 a.m.: The NFL draft’s first round was loaded — just loaded — with surprises. Some players like Tyson Alualu went earlier than expected, while others fell fast down the board and into the second round. Somewhere in between, the Broncos mortgaged a giant chunk of their draft to land Tim Tebow.
The Patriots weren’t an exception on that surprise front, selecting Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty with the 27th pick. Bill Belichick was more than excited to land McCourty, but the Patriots still have holes to address at defensive end, outside linebacker and tight end. They’re equipped with three second-round picks and one third-rounder, so they’ve got some moves to make.
Stick with NESN.com throughout the day, as we’ll provide continuous updates from the Patriots’ draft headquarters at Gillette Stadium. Things will move more quickly after the draft recommences at 6 p.m. Teams have seven minutes to make their picks in the second round and five minutes in the third round.