Clint's Corner Archive

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The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.

For 4/21/97

Good for You...

If you're checking in with me around this time of year, you truly are an NFL junkie. The Red Sox are playing .500 ball and here you are checking out the Pats' draft. Who says this is a baseball town? As the Super Bowl XXXI runner-ups, the Pats are still generating a lot of interest despite picking next to last in every round, as well as picking first in rounds 3 and 4 thanks to Bill Parcells.

Crap Shoot...

At positions 1-5 or so, you can almost pick any college player highly rated by the dozens of draft day publications out there. Picking an Orlando Pace, a Darrell Russell, or a Peter Boulware is almost a no-brainer. If the Seahawks had taken Boulware instead of Shawn Springs, so what? They would still have a blue chip rookie. After the 5 spot, however, big mistakes can be made. There have been many first round choices in this league who signed huge contracts and never did you-know-what on the football field. Recent Patriots first rounders Chris Singleton, Ray Agnew, and Leonard Russell come to mind. With Bobby Grier spending Mr. Kraft's millions, let's hope he did his homework.

Picking in the 29th spot, you are fortunate to find a player who can step right in and contribute. Once you are out of the top 10, that's pretty much the story. Bledsoe, McGinest, and Glenn all went at #1, #5, and #7 respectively. All stepped right in and made an immediate difference. No big surprise - they were suppose to do that - and they had the rookie signing bonus to remind them of that.

The Picks...

The Pats hope they have found a rookie starter in CB Chris Canty of Kansas State. This position was perhaps the Pats' largest need. If the Super Bowl wasn't evidence enough of that, finishing 28th in the league in pass defense says it all. Can we really expect Canty to make a difference? If he's that good, why was he there at 29? Fair questions, but remember that two years ago the Pats took CB Ty Law with the 24th overall pick. Law started his first game midway through his rookie season in Kansas City against the Chiefs, and is now the Pats top corner in just his second year in the league. At #24, the Pats got a guy who shut down Michael Irvin in Dallas and was not thrown at once during the Super Bowl.

If Canty can develop in similar fashion, the Pats will have a secondary so good that Myra Kraft could start at Defensive End and still get in a few "coverage" sacks. If Canty can give McGinest and Slade just a fraction of a second more time to get to the passer, the QB's of the league are in trouble. All the "how good is this guy?" articles you will read in the coming weeks aren't worth the paper they are printed on. How good Chris Canty can be is up to Chris Canty. The pick is in - and mini camp is in June.

One early criticism of Canty is that he was pulled over two years ago with a B.A.C (blood alcohol count) above the legal limit. Not that this isn't a bad thing, but how many of you reading this have ever been behind the wheel of a car when you shouldn't have been? Most of us are quite capable of this same misfortune. This incident does not in my mind make Chris Canty of "questionable character." He made a mistake, and hopefully he's learned from it.

One "negative" is his on the field cockiness, or "confidence" as Canty prefers to call it. Critics say he already thinks he's the next Deion Sanders. Let's hope that's not true. If Neon Deion agreed to play for the Pats for the NFL minimum, I would not want to see him on the team. Even if his remarkable talent helped the Pats win the Super Bowl, the victory poster would not hang in my sports room with him in it. Please Chris Canty, play with confidence, but leave out the gold chains, funny hats, and childish endzone dances.

Pete Carroll said that Canty's attitude is "...a plus as long as it doesn't go overboard. The nature of the position calls for a guy to stand out there all by himself. He has to be confident and stand up against the pressure." In his interview after being drafted, Canty remarked that he wanted to get to mini-camp, learn the defense, and hopefully earn a starting spot. So far, that doesn't sound at all like Deion to me. Let's hope it stays that way.

The Pats added some depth, and perhaps another rookie starter with their second round pick (59th overall). DE/DT Brandon Mitchell will pack his bags in Cowboy country and head North East to play for the Pats. With his combination of size and quickness, Mitchell could very well supplant either Mark Wheeler or Pio Sagapolutele by mid season. If he can show promise from the outside, defensive co-captain Mike Jones' spot on the outside may be in jeopardy. Add 2nd year enigma Devin Wyman and recently resigned malcontent Ferric Collons to the mix, and this position will be one to keep an eye on through the preseason.

Two picks later, the Pats grabbed running back Sedrick Shaw with the 1st pick of the third round (thanks again Bill). From what I've read and heard about this guy over the past week or so, this appears to be a steal in the third round. Mel Kiper Jr. had Shaw rated as the 6th best RB available in the draft with an 8.7 out of 10. First rounders Warrick Dunn (Tampa Bay) and Antowain Smith (Buffalo) each rated a 9.2 on the Mel-Meter. Kiper even went so far as to compare Shaw with current Patriot and two time Pro-Bowler Curtis Martin. Pro Football Weekly had Shaw rated as the 5th best back behind Dunn, Smith, Corey Dillon, and Byron Hanspard. If this pick pans out, this will become the first of what I hope will be many reasons we are glad Bill Parcells never read his Patriots contract amendment before he signed it.

The Patriots then used their own pick in the third round to add more depth to the secondary. Safety Chris Carter can join Branden Mitchell on his flight up from the Lone Star state to don the red, silver, and blue. Although Milloy and Clay today provide a solid starting safety tandem, the backups, Corwin Brown and special teams standout Larry Whigham, may not be starting material should the injury bug byte. With the 89th overall pick, you have done very well by adding quality depth. Right around this time is when picks become even more iffy. Bill Parcells' 1993 third round pick (from Miami in the Irving Fryar deal), NT Irvin Collier, was cut in training camp. Then again, Ben Coates lasted until the 5th round. Is Chris Carter a future Pro-Bowler or will he never see the turf of Foxboro Stadium? Once you get to the 4th round, it's anyone's guess.

The Pats used the Jets' pick in the fourth round and their own pick later in the same round to add some big ol' 300 pounders to the offensive line mix. Bobby Grier made Michigan guard Damon Denson and Buffalo tackle Ed Ellis the 97nd and 125th overall selections. Although both lasted until the fourth round, the paper on them is quite different. Mel Kiper Jr. has Denson rated as the 4th best OG available in the draft with an 8.7 rating. New Orleans made Colorado OG Chris Naeole the 10th overall pick, and Kiper had him rated 3rd with a 9.0. Pro Football Weekly had Denson as the 6th best rated lineman at any position. There's two independent, well-traveled draft publications which seem to indicate the Pats got a steal in the 4th round.

The Pats are pretty well set at tackle and center, but guard is another spot on the roster very much up for grabs. Max Lane seems penciled in at RG (with the Free Agent signing of Detroit Lion RT Zefross Moss), but Denson, Heath Irwin, and Todd Rucci could make for some extra hours in the film room as Pete Carroll forms his starting offensive line. In sharp contrast, Ed Ellis is Kiper's 54th rated OT, and did not even warrant a write up. His Mel-Meter 4.0 translates as "Questionable - possible undrafted Free Agent". It seems odd that these two guys went only 29 picks apart. Apparently the Pats' brass sees something in Ellis that PFW's Joel Buchsbaum and Mel Kiper Jr. do not.

Florida State OLB Vernon Crawford became a New England Patriot with the 29th pick in the fifth round. With Chris Slade, Todd Collins, Tedi Bruschi, Monty Brown, and Jamie Williams (Free Agent - Falcons) all after the same spot as Crawford, it appears Vernon would do himself a world of good by excelling on special teams. Outside linebacker is likely the most talented and deepest group on the roster. This being the 159th overall pick, however, you don't have much to lose - perhaps Grier has found a diamond in the rough. As I stated earlier, Livingstone College sent a young man by the name of Ben Coates to New England in the fifth round not too long ago. You just never know. For what it's worth, Crawford graded out a lot higher than his predecessor Ed Ellis. Vernon is Kiper's 24th rated OLB, and garnered a 6.2 rating.

The Pats again added another body to an area not so much in need when they grabbed speedy WR Tony Gaiter of the Miami Hurricanes in the sixth round. Perhaps Gaiter can room with Crawford and study the special teams manual. At best, Gaiter can hope to be the 5th receiver on the team, replacing Deitrich Jells or Hason Graham. Glenn, Brisby, Jefferson, and Troy Brown aren't going anywhere. Although Gaiter warranted a 7.3 on the Mel-Meter, good enough for 20th among WR's, Tony has his work cut out for him to stick on this roster.

The seventh round finally brought an end to this two day cattle run, but not before the Pats grabbed Central Michigan OT Scott Rehberg, making him the 3rd 300+ pound OL drafted by the Pats. Although Rehberg, at #230 overall, was only one pick away from being tagged "Mr. Irrelevant", Mel Kiper Jr. has Rehberg rated as the 11th best tackle available with a 7.9 rating. That is miles ahead of the Pats 4th round selection, Ed Ellis. Joel Buchsbaum concurs that Rehberg is a much better prospect than Ellis. At 6'8", 325lbs, Rehberg may be the biggest guy in camp.

In conclusion...

The way I see it, the Pats may have drafted the next Ty Law in the 1st round. If so, the Pats young secondary will be in great shape for many years. Brandon Mitchell doesn't exactly have any All-Pro's to beat out to make the team at DT, so he should make the squad and perhaps become a big contributor. Whether or not he's a good second round choice, as Lawyer Milloy and Ted Johnson have been, remains to be seen. Sedrick Shaw seems to be a great value in the 3rd round, but he's playing behind Curtis Martin. Shaw is too talented to keep off the roster, however, so Mario Grier and/or Dave Meggett's days may be numbered.

Safety Chris Carter was not brought in to start either. He should make the club and will learn from Milloy and Clay. Corwin Brown may be the odd man out with this selection. Damon Denson, according to the tale of the tape, may be the Pats most brilliant choice. A lot of "draft people" were quite high on him, and the Pats seem to be very fortunate to have gotten him in the 4th round. After the 1st round, Kiper had Denson rated among his top 20 remaining players. This guy may be the starting left guard on Aug 31st. Ed Ellis, on the other hand, appears to be a waste of a 4th round pick. Like I said, maybe the Pats know something the "experts" don't. Vernon Crawford and Tony Gaiter will be fortunate to make the final roster, while 7th rounder Rehberg may be a keeper. The Pats are sorely in need of depth along the OL, and drafting 3 300 pounders can't hurt that situation.

Parting Shot...

Now that the Pats-Jets rivalry is officially rekindled, I thought I'd lob a few grenades their way. Does anyone else think it odd that each year for the past what-seems-like-100-years, the Jets have owned a very high draft choice and all the Jets fans paint their faces green and mob the draft theater chanting "J-E-T-S Jets-Jets-Jets?" Why do these poor slobs continue to make fools of themselves on national TV? The Jets pick that high every year for a reason, and every year the fans go wild as they think the next guy holding up that Jets shirt with the #1 on it will be THE difference. Keyshawn Johnson was suppose to mean the playoffs, as was Marvin Jones two years ago. Remember the place going wild when they traded down to take Jones and picked up RB Johnny Johnson from Arizona? The Jets have won a total of 3 games since.

The Tuna is certainly a major improvement over Rich Kotite, but don't label James Farrior to be the next LT just yet. What's really funny is that if the Jets have a miserable 1997 season and own a top 5 pick, those same yahoo's will be back next year with the same chant. They should change it to "Our team sucks every year - Jets Jets Jets!"

One final thought to consider. Before Parcells joined the Pats, the Jets owned the 1st pick in all seven rounds. When it was all said and done, the Jets picked 8th, 31st, 88th, 96th, and 98th before heading into the final three rounds while the Pats picked 29th, 58th, 61st, 89th, 97th, and 125th before the 5th round. James Farrior is a quality player, but he's not in the same class as 5 of the guys who went ahead of him. This was the first draft run by the guy who didn't want Terry Glenn. Apparently he didn't want Orlando Pace, Peter Boulware, Shawn Springs, Bryant Westbrook, or Darrell Russell either. The Tuna had better hope those late round picks he stockpiled pan out. For the record, the Pats took RB Sedrick Shaw and OG Damon Denson with the Jets picks in the 3rd and 4th rounds, and, oh yeah, we get their #2 next year and their #1 in 1998. I can't wait 'till September 14th!

Thanks for reading.