Clint's Corner Archive
Clint's Corner Archive
The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.
One year after riding an opportunistic defense all the way to a Super Bowl Championship, the Patriots returned 10 of 11 starters on defense yet finished near the bottom of the league. The Patriots could not stop the run, generated little pass rush outside of blitzing, and had problems getting off the field on 3rd downs after jumping out to a 2-0 start in 2002.
Not that the offense is not in need of upgrade, but the Patriots would be wise to use both of their 1st round selections on the defensive side of the ball, where they not only struggled, but grew one year longer in the tooth as well. The Patriots have a strong secondary with Ty Law, Tebucky Jones, and Lawyer Millloy all set to return, but the 2nd starting corner spot and nickel and dime packages remain a strong area of need. At Defensive Tackle, the Patriots are in desperate need of a body to place alongside Richard Seymour, and depending on how they fare on draft day in this area may look to move Seymour to end. Linebacker could also stand to be addressed, but should only be assuming the quality available at the LB position exceeds what's available at DT, DE and CB when the Patriots make their selections at 14 and 19.
Who do I want the Patriots to draft? Should a trade be placed together to move the Patriots up, CB Terrence Newman would look awfully good in a Patriots uniform. He grades out to be one of those can't miss corners who can do it all - zone, man and special teams. Should the Patriots remain on the underside of the top 10, it's doubtful the CB position will be addressed in the 1st round. Is Newman worth giving up a #14 and #19 to move up for? That all depends on how the Patriots rate the 2nd tier of talent at the DT position, as one or more of Miami's Joseph, Georgia's Sullivan, or Okalahoma State's Kevin Williams figure to be available should the Pats stand pat at #14.
Who will the Patriots draft? My guess is the Patriots, in need of quantity as well as quality on their defense, will utilize both of their 1st round picks. At #14 I'll look for DT Jonathan Sullivan to join fellow Georgia Alum Seymour in the Patriots staring lineup. He excelled in the same defense which had Belichick and Pioli salivating over Seymour two years ago when they made him the 6th overall pick. With Seymour the only member of the class of 2001 to go to the Pro Bowl, the Patriots would be wise to stick to what works.
At #19, look for the Pats to go for the best defender on the board assuming the DT position had already been addressed. My guess here is Miami DE Jerome McDougle. McDougle should provide an immediate boost to a very weak Patriots edge rush while keeping Seymour at tackle where he belongs. McDougle is the disruptive force the Jets and Dolphins enjoy with Abraham and Taylor, and would make the Belichick blitz packages all the more difficult to contend with.
Whoever is selected at #14 will be on the hook to be an impact player right away. The Patriots had no choice but to trade Drew Bledsoe in 2002, but the pressure will be on the rookie to prove to be a talent worthy of replacing a quarterback who re-wrote the Patriots record books.