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April 23, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (12:00 PM)

Good afternoon. I am anticipating a lively chat today because my general feeling is that many fans are disappointed with the Patriots' selection of Rutgers CB Devin McCourty, 27th overall. I wrote about the pick today on ESPNBoston.com and I believe it's a case where the Patriots didn't reach for need and instead took the best player on their board. I advocate that approach and think it's a winning approach. It's why in my final mock draft, I had Alabama cornerback Kareem Jackson going to the Patriots. The key, of course, is in the scouting evaluation and making sure you've graded the player correctly. I can't pass judgment on that, but the intel that I picked up from a trusted scout is that McCourty is a "good, solid pick" who checks out in all areas -- on the field, off the field. Where he gets dinged in the eyes of this scout is in the playmaking department (not many INTs).

Mike Reiss
  (12:01 PM)

There are many angles to cover here. The pace might be a bit slower than usual, but let's plan on being here until 1 p.m.

Rickter Scale (Boston)

I read somewhere last night that the Jets had targeted McCourty at 29. Do you think the Jets had McCourty rated ahead of Kyle Wilson? How do these players compare?

Mike Reiss
  (12:02 PM)

I don't know about the Jets targeting McCourty, but this looks like a big question many people on the chat have -- why McCourty over Kyle Wilson? I think McCourty had a higher grade for the Patriots because of the overall package -- four-down player on the field, "prototype Patriot" off it. He is a "clean" prospect. Not saying Wilson isn't, but maybe the level of competition dinged him a bit in the scouting process.

Chris Osborn (Annapolis MD)

The patriots "shockingly" moved back in the first round, but with someone like sergio kindle sliding into the second round, is it even on the patriots radar to move up on day two?

Mike Reiss
  (12:04 PM)

Huge day here for the Patriots. I'd make the case that it's more important than Thursday. I do think they could move up, and if they do, the two names I'd keep on the radar are DE Linval Joseph and TE Rob Gronkowski. My opinion is that it's time to turn the attention to becoming a more physical team at the line of scrimmage.

paul (Canada)

thoughts on the first round and the other AFC East picks?

Mike Reiss
  (12:06 PM)

I like what the Bills did, going the C.J. Spiller route. That offense has just been so bad, any playmakers will help. Now they need to focus on OL and get their QB situation squared away, whichever direction they go. Miami went the "value" route and I wonder if they'll regret passing on Dan Williams. Let's see if they get Cody to play nose in the second round here, or if they plan to play Odrick there. I don't think Odrick is a fit at nose. Jets with a solid pick for them.

kevin (boston)

do you think sergio kindle will fall to the patriots at number 44 overall?

Mike Reiss
  (12:08 PM)

I think Kindle will go early here in the second. While there is some risk involved (knee, for one), it's worth it at this point if you need a playmaker. I don't think he was ever in play for the Patriots and the reasons weren't solely medical. One thing to remember is that Bill Belichick has strong ties to that Texas program with defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. With the Patriots passing, I am going to guess some of the "inside" info they received raised concerns.

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

I hold myself accountable, from a media perspective, on that one. I picked up on the dings on Kindle late and had him sliding down the final mock draft to 32. To me, Kindle is a case of the power of media perception. Media built him up. It's no wonder some would be disappointed he wasn't the pick, but I think it's telling that 32 picks went by and every single one passed on him. Tells you something.

Mike (Back Bay)

Mike, the more I look at this pick the more irate I get. By all means I am not BB, but with all his wheeling and dealings you would think there was something better he could have received. Their pass rush defense sucked last year!

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

Understood, Mike, and I'm not in position to defend the pick. But what I would say is that I am a firm believer in not reaching for need, and picking the best player in the first round. When I woke up this morning and analyzed the first round over again, one thing stood out to me: The Dolphins and Jets were picking right behind the Patriots at 28 and 29 and they both need pass rushing help at OLB. They didn't pick an OLB. What that tells me is that there wasn't a player there worth taking.

Mike Reiss
  (12:13 PM)

I strongly believe that teams that reach for need, or make picks with public perception in mind, will be back in the same spot next April. It's easy to fill a spot on the depth chart in April to ease one's concerns, but the true evaluation comes when the player hits the field in September. I strongly believe you can never go wrong taking the best player.

Seth (Orlando)

Mike, I know you talk about "value" as the main ingredient to a Patriots draft. But I can't overlook the fact that Dez Bryant (I would argue the receiver with the most "value" in the draft) at a position of need on this team (Moss' contract, Welker's knee, Holt's age) wasn't the most valuable player there. Were his off the field concerns really that severe (it was a suspension from contact with an agent, not drugs or legal issues)?

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

Seth, let's forget about "value" for a second. I don't think that is even in play here. ...

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

... Here is my take on passing on Dez Bryant, and it comes from being around the Patriots for 11 years and studying the way Bill Belichick does business. I am not defending the way Belichick does business, but simply passing along my observations and analysis. ...

Mike Reiss
  (12:18 PM)

... When you are building a team, the first-round draft choice from that year sets the tone and reflects what you are looking for from all your players. It has a trickle-down effect to the rest of the rookies. I think the Patriots liked Bryant as a player, but it was probably the complete package that had them shying away. You're going to be bringing in 12-15 other rookies and you have to feel comfortable that they'll be following Bryant's lead. ...

Mike Reiss
  (12:18 PM)

... It seems to me that putting Bryant in that type of position, in this particular team environment, is not condusive to what will help both sides (player, team) reach their goals.

Patriot in fla (Florida)

Mike, please, another CB? I don't care if you have Revis back there, even a Tebow will complete passes without pressure. Its good McCourty can block punts, but with our D, how often are teams going to have to punt. terrible pick.

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

If they don't add help on the DL and OLB by the middle of this draft, I'd agree. This is an incomplete picture. The pick, viewed by itself, is underwhelming. Pair it with four solid picks in the second and third round and I think the Patriots could be on the verge of putting together back to back very good drafts.

Ron (Worcester)

Mike, with all due respect, that is the biggest piece of illogical crap I have heard all through this process.

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

Just passing along my analysis. Not asking anyone to agree with it. Not saying I agree with it.

Larry (Providence RI)

I personally like the pick of McCourtney. If you look around the AFC East the teams are stacked with top Wide Recievers. I really do think that a CB was one of their top needs because I don't think that Bodden, Butler, Springs or any other Patriot CB can do a good job covering those recievers. I also believe they need a pass rusher and is there a good one that can fall to them at these picks.

Mike Reiss
  (12:21 PM)

There has been an influx of big-name receivers in the division (Holmes, Marshall), so that could be a factor. I wonder if that was part of the team's mindset.

BobK (Southboro)

This selection is a bit of an indictment on previous selections tho isn't it?Lots of high draft choices and a couple of pretty significant FA signings(Boddden, Spring) and were right back to the well?

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

I think it highlights that 2008 second-round pick Terrence Wheatley hasn't panned out, and 2008 fourth-round pick Jonathan Wilhite isn't being looked at a top 3 guy right now. Think they are high on Bodden and Butler.

Jeremy (Brighton, MA)

Why didn't the patriots go for Odrick as a 3-4 DE? Is Linval Joseph a main target for the 2nd round or is there someone else at that position they are looking at? Also, in watching the film shown on McCourty he looks to be an excellent tackler but is not the type of playmaker I would like to see. All of the picks they show him making at Rutgers are McCourty spying the quarterback from a nickel position. Is this just a case of below average hands or a lack of instincts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:23 PM)

Not sure on the last part on McCourty, Jeremy. I haven't watched him enough. On Odrick, I think the question from a scouting perspective is "Can he anchor?" He was more of a penetrator at Penn State. Think a lot of scouts got high on him after the Senior Bowl, then watched more tape and maybe cooled a bit. According to a scout, probably fits best with a 3-4 that will do more slanting, which Miami might now do under Mike Nolan.

JV (Beantown)

Hi Mike, Ricky Sapp is nowhere to be found on your round 2 mock draft? Are you expecting him to slip as Kindle has?

Mike Reiss
  (12:25 PM)

Looks like a third-round possibility to me.

matt (attleboro)

from what ive read mccourty is a good cover guy with great speed, but not the best ball skills....but everyone is touting him as a good special teams player? please explain his skill set

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

Here is what I picked up from a scout on McCourty: "Solid. Very solid. Prototype Patriot. No trouble. Smart. Works his tail off. Very good tackler. Heck, he was their leading tackler as a corner. Excels in cover-2, zone, perfect for Patriots. Has speed. What you don't get, he's not a big playmaker. Off the charts special teams."

Connor (Milton)

What are the chances that the Pats move up to one of the top three picks in the second round in order to pick Sergio Kindle? I know a lot of mock drafts had them taking him at number 22.

Mike Reiss
  (12:30 PM)

I'd be stunned if they move up for Kindle, Connor. Lot of questions there. I know a lot of mock drafts had him at 22, but those mockers didn't have the medical reports or some other stuff that is important to many teams in the scouting process. This seems like a case to me of where some in the media -- and I include myself here -- created a false picture of the player based on incomplete information and thus influenced public perception. I hold myself accountable. An example to me of the power of the media and why everything we write needs to be scrutinized, analyzed, and handled with care.

Jon (Middletown)

All the uproar being generated by fans and worse - other members of the media is far too reactive and thoughtless. Even if you're not high on McCourty I'm thankful for your more rational, objective and grounded approach to things.

Mike Reiss
  (12:32 PM)

I appreciate the thoughts, Jon. I'll now post the 100 other comments that are calling me a "house man" for the Patriots :)

Mike Reiss
  (12:35 PM)

Here is the thing from my point of view: I understand how thorough the scouting process is and feel like I have a general feel for what goes into it. To jump all over a pick the moment after it is made spits in the eye of that process. Will the McCourty pick turn out to be the right one? I don't know. Maybe time will tell us they should have taken Odrick or Hughes, or Bryant or Thomas. But I respect the process to let it play out and base my opinion more on fact that knee-jerk reaction, especially considering I haven't seen many of these players anyway and I'm not a scout.

Brendan (Boston)

What is Tedy thinking about the pick? He's physical but not gonna help win in the trenches.

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

I don't want to steal Tedy's thunder or violate a private conversation. But we had a brief exchange last night and he likes it. His analysis was interesting and I'm hopeful he'll be passing it along on our site soon.

Matt (Mansfield)

on a side note....do you think adalius thomas and burgess will be with the pats in 2010?

Mike Reiss
  (12:37 PM)

Thomas -- no. Burgess -- not as certain.

Steve (Dover, NH)

Mike, isn't all this "screaming" about value picks overreaction and gives talking heads something to blab about? With such a high failure rate on draft picks, even in the first round, how can we possibly grade a pick until the season starts, much less before we even seem them on the field?

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

Interesting point, Steve. I was asked to grade the pick, and it is something I don't believe can be done well until more time passes. But I did it anyway and based on the grade on potential opportunities capitalized on. A lot goes into grading a player.

Paul (NJ)

Mike, let's take a step back from the draft and just ask the most important question of this offseason for the Pats (all methods of improving the roster included): what is your sense of how BB is going to improve the pass rush? By not taking a pass rusher first, it implies that the solution may not be in this draft. Do you think BB will be content to just draft a 2nd rounder, possibly pick up another bargain basement free agent and hope that Crable can finally contribute? You think that will be BB's solution? You think that will be sufficient?

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

I think it would be a concern if they don't address it in some form in this draft -- DE and/or OLB. Belichick said late Thursday night that he likes some of the parts already on the roster, but it is my opinion that they need more and the draft is the best place to get it.

Rick (Chelmsford)

Mike, All along we've been told that this is a "deep" draft. Is it possible that "deep" in this case means that the talent, while yielding a number of starting calibre players, lacks a number of "star" players? Could it be that our expectations for the type of player available to the Patriots at the end of the first round were over inflated?

Mike Reiss
  (12:41 PM)

I thought the most insightful point that I heard from Bill Belichick on Thursday was that the draft was considered strongest, based on the Patriots' grades, from the late first round to the early third round. I think expectations should be high to get four quality players. This draft is that deep.

Jay (Adams, MA)

The frustration, I think, comes from seeing so many guys projected to be impact defensive players still being on the board, at positions of greater need. More importantly, the sheen's off BB's reputation; recent drafts have been, at best, medicore, which makes it a lot harder to just think "In Bill We Trust"

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

Completely understood, Jay, and I'm at the head of the line when I say that the draft-and-develop performance from 2006-2008 is full of missed opportunities. That is hurting the Patriots now, but I think they made up some ground in 2009 and are in the process of making up more ground in 2010.

Scott (Nashua)

Mike, any chance the Pats sign the Raiders linebacker (brain cramp, can't remember his name) who was a "tackling machine" and was tendered at a 3rd round level, now that they have a 3rd round pick?

Mike Reiss
  (12:42 PM)

Kirk Morrison is the MLB I think you are referring to. With the Raiders drafting Rolando McClain, it is something I'd inquire about.

Jerry Hughes (Texas)

I have versatility, football smarts, and no offfield problems. Why didn't the patriots want me? I guess i'll help chew up blockers so Dwight Freeney can have a career year, but it would have been fun foxboro.

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

Hi Jerry. I'm guessing it was their concern that while you are a terrific pass rusher, there are questions about strength to set the edge in the 3-4 defense. It's probably the same reason the Dolphins (28) and Jets (29) -- two teams which also needed an outside linebacker/pass-rushing threat -- also passed on you.

Nathan (Penn State)

If Linval Joseph is not the pick, who do the Pats take? Is it Corey Wootton, Carlos Dunlap, Lamarr Houston, Torrell Troup, or some other player in the 2nd round?

Mike Reiss
  (12:45 PM)

If TE Rob Gronkowski is there, that would be my choice, then I'd turn to defense with the next pick.

Eric G. (Nashua)

Sorry Mike, but you have to agree with me on how bad the way the Pats handled that trade with Dallas....I mean c'mon, Balt

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

I'm not 100 percent sure I follow you, Eric, but I'm guessing that the feeling is the Patriots should have received more compensation from the Cowboys because the Ravens received so much from the Broncos? I don't know specifics, but any time a quarterback is in play, the ante is usually upped.

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

There also might have been competition for the 25th pick to get Tebow -- again, I'm not sure -- that upped the ante as well.

Pete (Marlboro)

Mike isn't it still too early to judge '08? crable, wheatley and whilhite could still turn into something altho the window is closing. 07 is unique because they acquired Moss and Welker and if you go look at that draft now you'll be hard pressed to find any quality players taken outside the top ten.

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

It might be slightly too early, Pete, but the signs look to be trending in a not-so-hot direction. And you are right about 2007 -- you have to include Welker and Moss in the analysis of that draft. My point on 2007 is specific to the draft-and-develop aspect of it. When you trade for veterans, you "interrupt" the flow of the talent pipeline from an age perspective. They have a gap on the roster of 3-to-5 year players who are impact guys.

Steve (VA)

Mike, why did Denver give up so much to get Tebow anyway? Who did they think was going to come up and grab him?

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

Maybe Buffalo, depending on who you believe.

Rob (New Orleans)

Any possibility the Pats try to acquire Haynesworth?

Mike Reiss
  (12:50 PM)

I would advocate that move. Not sure the Redskins would really trade him, though. Pats get Haynesworth, switch to a 4-3 more regularly, and I think that's a pretty dominant defensive front.

TruePat (Worcester)

I know it was just the first pick, but trading down and passing on those two top WRs, passing on those DE and OLBs, and picking in an area of least need, I have lost any faith that I had in Belichick's judgement. We have had a string of things that he has done from bad drafting over the last five years to bad game decisions, bad free agent decisions, it just goes on and on. I think he is pulling this franchise down into mediocrity or worse. These judgements do not sell tickets. Mr. Kraft is going to find that out very soon.

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

I have heard others echo your thoughts, TruePat. Based on the number of comments in this chat -- which have now topped 600 -- there are quite a few. I can't keep up with them all. I wrote today on the pick that the McCourty selection will be judged, in part, by if Bryant or Thomas (injured foot to consider) become star WRs, and if Odrick and Hughes would have been stars in the team's system. It's only fair to point that out.

DJ (Ann Arbor)

Mike. you got the CB pick right in terms of position -- as did a few others. What tipped you off? It wasn't as strange as the mock that had us picking a S....but very surprising. Think BB would have picked Gresham at 22 if he'd been there?

Mike Reiss
  (12:55 PM)

My analysis led me to a cornerback for the Patriots when studying the positions in this draft and assessing where the depth/quality was at each spot. Offensive line, for example, had 5-6 guys that were going in the top 25. Same with DE. So that pushed other positions down and as I assessed where the best players would be on the board for the Patriots at 22, I thought Maurkice Pouncey (center), Ryan Mathews (running back) or any of the CBs would represent the best quality if they were there. I've never completely hit on a pick for the Patriots, but I do enjoy studying the "personality" of a draft and understanding where the quality will fall.

Matty G (Next to Pudge)

Hey Mike, I'm not going to argue with the Pats first pick. The fact is they have yet to miss on a first rounder and nobody new who Logan Mankins was either. So I give them the benefit of the doubt. As far as the second round, I really think offense should actually be the key focus. I know we lack that passrusher but we have gotten much younger on defense in recent years and our offense is definitely a little long in the tooth, especially at our skill positions. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Pats focus on the RB and WR area and then look at pass rusher. Tate and Toby G possibly?Thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

Fair point on their track record in the first round. Time will tell, but if I had to make an educated guess based on the information I have right now, McCourty will be a solid choice for them. That's always dangerous, because a lot of people were saying the same thing about Maroney in '06 and that hasn't panned out. As for the second round, I think TE would be one good spot, and if they can get a big DE like Linval Joseph, that would be a good play in my book. Then take the best player with that third pick.

Mike Reiss
  (12:58 PM)

Let's go for 2 more minutes here.

Jef (NH)

You have to love the draft - we all know just enough to be dangerous with our opinions! Let's see what the next few days bring and then let the coaches coach. I remember last year being excited about the Brace pick and wondering who the heck Vollmer was. A year later my perspective is much different.

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

Let's end on this one, and then some final thoughts.

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

I think the draft is great, but I'm now wondering if media members -- and I include myself with this -- have blown it up to the point where opinions are just off the charts. I enjoy studying the prospects and the draft, but I think it's important to realize that we are probably operating with a very, very small fraction of information compared to the NFL teams.

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

This is a big day for the Patriots with their four picks. Anxious to see it unfold and we'll revisit it again. Thanks for filling the chat. We could have continued through the draft tonight based on the number of comments, which I appreciate. I value all opinions and wish I could have gotten to them all. Have a great day and we'll be back at it tonight here on ESPNBoston.com