FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots fan John Scher poses outside prior to the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
We get to hear from someone that's not me! Thanks go to VinnySteel for fulfilling the first appearance that our friends from Foxborough will make in the 1st round this year. Next up: Green Bay Packers and they'll be represented by barnerburner (jeez... not him again).
By the way, take note of the cool little minute-long draft profiles from SBN NFL that are embedded with these picks. It's been Michael Bean's personal project to make these videos happen, and let us know what you think of them! -barnerburner-
So, as a Steelers fan representing what is likely our collective 2nd most hated franchise, I was tempted to want to spend their first round draft choice on a kicker. Any kicker. No, scratch that. I'd like them to be a really bad kicker with off-the-field substance abuse issue and suspected ties to a terrorist cell or two.
The problem is, it wouldn't matter. Somehow, some way, Belichick would figure out some strange unknown skill set for the guy and use him successfully in "the system." And even if he were a bust - do you really think the New England Patriots will not figure out some way to have two first round picks next year? Since 1990, they've managed to head into the draft with two first rounders seven times.They've only used both of these picks four times, most recently in 2004 where they selected Vince Wilfork and Ben Watson. Of course, when you're New England, you have to be doubly prepared. You could miss on the pick... or you could get caught and have one (only one) taken away by the league... but I digress.
The point is if they mess up with their pick, they'll still have more opportunities than anyone to make up for it. Of course, if they keep him, he'll marry a supermodel.
Before I get to the pick - one more piece of extraneous fluff: I live in Pittsburgh. Ironically, I am on my family vacation starting today and I'm writing this from none other than Boston, Massachusetts. When I signed up, I had no idea it would work out that I would be physically present in the city the team represents at the precise moment I "drafted". The planets are truly aligning for this pick...
With the 27th pick in the 2012 draft, the New England Patriots select... Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, University of Alabama.
There probably is no better proof that the Patriots are a system-oriented team than the fact that it would probably be a great challenge to find a team that made it all the way to the Super Bowl, played competitively, and yet could probably draft any defensive position and it would be in some way a position of need. Truly remarkable that they accomplished all they did last year with their defensive roster.
Most pundits say New England came within a "dropped Wes Welker pass" of winning the Super Bowl. However, I think it's more accurate to say they were a Rob Gronkowski injury away from doing so. Either way, the point is that the Patriots nearly won the Super Bowl even with mistakes and significant injuries on offense. The offense doesn't need any help, not in the first round anyway. They've prepared well for Matt Light's retirement. So, an offensive line pick is unlikely.
However, the greatest of the defensive needs would be the lack of consistent pass rush.
It's interesting to note, however, that the Patriots actually had more sacks last season (40) than the Steelers (35). Our dramatic fall was due to injuries, but not so for New England. They just did not have the personnel to do it. This was really evident in the playoffs and Super Bowl.
At 6'2" and 265 pounds, Upshaw is a lot of man. While not the laterally quickest player, he is a ferocious in-line bull rusher with great flexibility and instinct. In 13 games last season, he registered 8.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hurries, 17 tackles for loss - but he only had 56 tackles total! And he did this against college football's toughest competition. He simply has a great nose for the ball and the strength and agility to break through any wall to get there.
One other perk is that he played a hybrid end-backer at Alabama and will adjust readily to a similar system in New England.
In most mocks I've read, Upshaw is going around 16th or 17th overall. Many others have him going right here where I've picked him. Those that have him going later have New England picking a defensive player that is already off the board in our mock. That's the problem with doing a mock with Steelers fans: "Offense? Who needs offense? ... Isn't that what rounds 4-6 are for?" In all likelihood, New England will have a few more defensive options on the table than our mock has given them. However, New England might just take the dynamic Upshaw (if he's still available) regardless. He's that good and that much of a fit for what they do.
Well, it's been interesting to look at football from the perspective of Bill Belichick. And now, please excuse me while I shower and wash the stink of this dirty deed from my soul...
BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Picks:
- Indianapolis Colts -- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
- Washington Redskins -- Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
- Minnesota Vikings -- Matt Kalil, OT, USC
- Cleveland Browns -- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
- St. Louis Rams -- Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
- Jacksonville Jaguars -- Quinton Coples, DE, UNC
- Miami Dolphins -- Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
- Carolina Panthers -- Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
- Buffalo Bills -- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
- Kansas City Chiefs -- Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
- Seattle Seahawks -- Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
- Arizona Cardinals -- Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
- Dallas Cowboys -- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
- Philadelphia Eagles -- Mark Barron, S, Alabama
- New York Jets -- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
- Cincinnati Bengals -- Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia
- San Diego Chargers -- Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
- Chicago Bears -- David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
- Tennessee Titans -- Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
- Cincinnati Bengals -- Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
- Cleveland Browns -- Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
- Detroit Lions -- Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
- Pittsburgh Steelers -- Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
- Denver Broncos -- Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
- Houston Texans -- Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech