Pats leftovers from Super Bowl


DALLAS -- Patriots leftovers and quick-hit thoughts while wrapping up the Super Bowl week:

1. Draft picks a hot topic. Seemingly every analyst asked about the Patriots mentioned all of the team's 2011 draft picks (6 of the first 92 selections) and how that should help them add more talent to the roster. That is rare for a team that won 14 regular-season games. "They have all those picks and I think they are positioned beautifully going forward," said Brian Billick, the Fox Sports and NFL Network analyst.

2. Tom Brady showed he was human. When the topic was the team's playoff loss to the Jets, there was one overriding theme: Tom Brady took the team far during the regular season, but he didn't look like himself in the playoff loss. When looking at where things broke down in that game, Brady was where most analysts started. One opinion that stood out was that Brady is usually so mentally tough that he can overcome mistakes, but some felt his first-quarter interception put him in a funk that he couldn't recover from. "He didn't look right," was the common refrain.

3. Young defense still growing. The Patriots had one of the youngest defenses in the NFL last season, and that point was made by many analyzing the team on Radio Row. With youth comes growing pains. "He's made that transition," Billick said of coach Bill Belichick. "They were getting old and now they're young. They were able to win while they've gotten young and here they are poised to get better. That's hard to do."

4. Kraft's power in NFL circles. Kraft's role as an NFL power broker was one of the final thoughts I had before wrapping up the week. Of the 32 owners in the league, few have more influence. To some, he is considered a bridge-builder on important issues and it looks like the NFL is hoping some of that bridge-building helps negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. I thought back to Kraft's initial years as Patriots owner 17 years ago, and how he made some "rookie" mistakes while learning the business, and how different his position is now.

5. Targeting what's missing. There was almost universal agreement in what the Patriots need in the offseason. "What I don't see is that dominant outside pass rusher," Billick said, echoing the thoughts of many. "They had to do it more with [blitz] pressures." There was about a 50-50 split on whether the Patriots need to add a vertical-type receiver to "take the top off a defense and complement their small-ball." Some feel that is a necessity. Others think the personnel the team has is suffice.

6. Gronkowski-Fletcher connection. What does a highly-touted second-round draft choice from the University of Arizona and a long-shot rookie free agent from Montana State have in common? Rob Gronkowski and Dane Fletcher, rookies who emerged for the Patriots in 2010, found out last year that they have a lot. They've developed a close bond through the game of football. "We're really close," Gronkowski said. "When we first got here, we just started talking, became friends, and lived together."