Quick-hit thoughts around NFL & Pats

May, 1, 2011
5/01/11
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Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the New England Patriots:

1. One aspect that impressed me with every Patriots draft pick was how they carried themselves in interviews with reporters. Based on that limited sample, both on the phone and in person, the 2011 New England draft class looks like a bunch of quality guys.

2. I was surprised that the Atlanta Falcons gave the Browns as much as they did to draft receiver Julio Jones. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff learned under Bill Belichick, and I couldn't imagine Belichick striking that trade.

3. Speaking of former Patriots personnel staffers, Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli seemed to veer off course with a few of his picks -- specifically receiver Jon Baldwin (1st round) and outside linebacker Justin Houston (3rd round). Both are talented, but come with off-field questions.

4. I thought the Chicago Bears should have surrendered their fourth-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for failing to take the final steps of calling a first-round trade into the league, which ultimately could have cost the Ravens the player they wanted. I thought the Bears dropped the ball on that -- twice.

5. Drafts I liked: Detroit, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia.

6. Drafts I thought might have missed the mark: Carolina, Minnesota.

7. For all the talk about how teams can find running backs after the draft, I thought it was interesting that a total of 31 backs were drafted. That seems like a lot.

8. I figured Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich would slide a bit in the draft because of medical concerns, but never thought he'd go undrafted. He should still get a chance to make a team as a rookie free agent when the lockout ends. The Patriots would be a good fit.

9. One of the first thoughts I had when the Patriots selected cornerback Ras-I Dowling at the top of the second round was that 2009 second-round draft choice Darius Butler is going to have a hard time breaking through, and could be challenged for a roster spot. Ditto for 2008 fourth-rounder Jonathan Wilhite.

10. All it took for me to be sold on the Patriots' pick of Ryan Mallett in the third round was how other teams were reaching up earlier in the draft for quarterbacks not worthy of where they were being drafted. It's good business to draft and develop quarterbacks, and I see Foxborough as a very solid fit for Mallett.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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