The premise: I hope, henceforth, as I always have, to get back to publishing Mock OffSeason + Drafts before The Draft in the future, and then follow through with these BackDrafts, afterwards. I work 7 Days/60 Hours a week, attend College, and occasionally hit the Elliptical and lift a weight or two, so I've found the going tough, in that regard.
But I am undaunted!! Indeed, I feel as if I've reached a seismic level inflection point in my life ~ in short: I've finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up ~ and having thus cleared oceans of clutter out'f my life, have recently attained a dramatically improved level of focus and efficiency...I presume nothing of the future, but I am very optimistic.
In any case: the most crucial part of that OffSeason equation, from my perspective, is this one: Now that we all know exactly what Pick every single Prospect would've had to've been drafted by, anyone who's inclined ~ though these will be only the extreme Draft fanatics!! ~ can update their Mock Drafts ~ creating a BackDraft ~ to reflect reality.
For me ~ and for most'f us, I believe ~ the purpose of Mock Drafts is of course to play Fantasy General Manager, with a mind towards hopefully looking back over the years and bragging about one's prowess...And that's why I go to this trouble: Obviously, there's no sense in bragging about drafting Player X at #55, say, in your Mock Draft, if it turns out that he got drafted at #48, say, and wasn't available to you unless you traded up. Thus: this updated version or "BackDraft."
The trouble with BackDrafts is obvious: In the real world, you can't know, beforehand, when a given prospect is going to be drafted, so it's shall we say very convenient to have the entire Draft laid out to exploit...It's obviously an enormous advantage, in that example above, to know that you need only trade up to #47 or so to get Player X, whereas in reality you would of course know nothing beyond your best analysis about when he might get drafted, were you running a War Room.
Even so: Among anyone who publishes a BackDraft ~ a lot'f us on PatsFans.com have done so, before, and I intend to get it going again ~ has that same exact advantage, therefore there is no advantage against each other: zero.
The only advantage is of course against the Team you're backdrafting, itself ~ in this case: The Patriots. And of course that advantage is balanced against the fact that the Patriots and every other team have access to information that absolutely dwarfs what we Fans have access to...Does that balance it off? Who's to say? It's all in fun, anyway!!
And so, without further ado...
I've always preached that I wanted to build my Vision of a Team. After all, what's the use of playing Fantasy General Manager if you're just mimicking somebody else's Vision, even if that somebody happens to be, in the person of Bill Belichick, one of the greatest Head Coaches and one of the greatest General Managers ever? And I dare say that my approach has been consistently original...But as it finally became crystal clear that there is genuine Madness in Bill Belichick, along with his equally authentic genius, I realized that my approach was more balanced that I believe is the wisest approach.
Don't get me wrong: I am the First Disciple of The International House of Have My Cake And Eat It Too.
And I shall indeed strive aggressively to improve the entire 50 man roster, Specialists aside.
But I've always preached concentrated attack ~ like Napolean at Austerlitz or General Guderian at Sedan ~ and in retrospect, I don't believe that I'ave hitherto leaned into it as I might've. That, my friends, is about to change.
I am an American Infantryman ~ not active, you understand, but there are no "former" American Infantrymen.
When I served, my best Battalion Commander and his subordinates always preached "Pushing It DownField." That was a tactical philosophy, but one that applies strategically, as well: It would be wonderful if we could plan and prepare our conflagrations and have events & enemies comply with our visualizations. But it doesn't work that way.
The Fog of War disrupts all the best laid plans of mice & men.
Or as General Douglas MacArthur put it:
The Game is constantly changing and constantly evolving.
But the best and the brightest are changing and evolving with it...and don't need Years to get in sync.
And there's no sense in being super-synced in the first place, if your talent is mediocre.
Fortune favors the brave...and fortune favors those who seize the initiative.
Or in other words: Don't sit on your ass. Push it downfield. Sow confusion in The Enemy...and wreak havoc.
The great General George Patton once had a few words to share on the subject:
"Some goddamn fool once said that flanks have got to be secure. Since then sonofabitches all over the globe have been guarding their flanks. I don’t agree with that. My flanks are something for the enemy to worry about, not me.
Before he finds out where my flanks are, I’ll be cutting the bastard’s throat."
Or, if I may be so bold as to venture a second Quote ~ more concise ~ from the great General George Patton:
The Patriots entered this OffSeason with no less than forty spots that could be realistically upgraded.
Each season is its own story: The team that hits the field in September is an infant.
The team that hits the field in January...is a seasoned, developed adult.
By the time the Super Bowl comes around, all players are in sync.
I say let the weak concern themselves with continuity.
I'll start off by offering my unsolicited opinions on the moves that the Patriots made and didn't make ~ Planet Earth Version!!
Free Agents ~ Departures
01 ~ OT Nate "Universal" Solder. As terrifying as it is to lose a good Left Tackle in this barren market, I applaud this move!! Solder is good, but not great, and that $15.5 Million/Year contract that the Giants gave'm is a Salary Cap crippler, the kind of contract that forces teams to let go or pass on signing not one but several crucial, talented Depth Players. If I'm handing out that kind of cash, he better be a great Player, entering his prime, not a good Player who's already peaked and has openly considered retirement in recent years. The Giants are courting disaster with that contract. I say: let them.
02 ~ CB Malcolm Butler. This obviously was a fait accompli, after that horrific Super Bowl decision. Oy. But while I nominally disagree with the Super Bowl decision, I cannot disagree with the decision to let loose a guy who ~ whatever the Hell transpired ~ would tempt Mad Bill towards that decision. Whatever the X Factor was, and as dear in all'f our hearts as Malcolm Butler will always be, you simply cannot pay premium bucks against the Salary Cap in such a situation.
03 ~ SB Dion Lewis. Mixed feeling about this one, as I'm sure many'f us have. Lewis is a phenomenal SpeedBack in all three phases of the Game ~ Running, Blocking, Receiving ~ and is in'is prime. Even so: Paying $5 Million/Year, which he is certainly well worth, means not paying someone else ~ maybe 2 guys who'd improve our Depth of Talent, which is crucial during the PlayOffs, after injuries inevitably carve down the ranks ~ and HalfBacks are virtually commodities.
04 ~ OT Cameron Fleming. As barren as the Offensive Tackle Market is, I have to applaud their letting him go. I was never a fan of Fleming, and while he's grown on me, I'd rather draft and develop raw talent than pay mediocrity. In The Infernal Salary Cap Era, every dollar matters. Better to spend it on talent with potential than mediocrity without it.
05 ~ FB Danny Amendola. I love Danny, as do we all, and his place in Patriot Immortality is assured forever...But I applaud our having let'm go, too. He's a FlankerBack going on 33 and getting $6 Million a year. Better the Fish pay it.
Free Agents ~ Retentions
06 ~ OT LaAdrian Waddle. I respect this move, but I wouldn't do it. Waddle is longer on talent than on either performance or sustained health. I'd rather go with raw, talented Rookies and young, talented Veterans with better potential.
07 ~ SB Rex Burkhead. Phenomenal move. I've always been an enormous Rex Burkhead fan, and, for the money, if I'd had to choose between Burkhead and Lewis, it would've actually been an easy call. Burkhead, like Lewis, is a legitimate three way threat ~ Running, Blocking, Receiving ~ and at 5103/216, is the perfect size for an HalfBack and incredibly agile.
Free Agents ~ Signings
08 ~ LE Adrian Clayborn. Not a move I would've made, but a very good one, I think. A 2 year contract at $6 Million per is very good value for a good Lion End still in his prime who's versatile and effective against both the Run and the Pass.
09 ~ PB Jeremy Hill. A waste of time and money, I think ~ very little money, fortunately. Nothing against Hill, but I consider'm a mediocre PowerBack ~ a sluggish grinder who doesn't run, block, or catch very well.
10 ~ SE Jordan Matthews. An absolutely amazing signing. Matthews is talented, young, entering his prime, has already had success in multiple years, and is coming at a bargain basement price ~ $1 Million!!! ~ because he's coming off'f a horrific year, marred by lingering health issues that he says were the result of a faulty diagnosis. And the best thing about Jordan Matthews is that he's a very cerebral WideOut, and could rapidly become a favorite target of Tom Brady.
11 ~ OT Ulrick John. Absolutely love this move. John brings extraordinary agility and awesome intensity to the BattleField. In a world where Offensive Tackle talent is few and far between, Mad Bill managed to get an incredible athlete ~ with marginal Power, mind you!! ~ with a ferocious, focused mentality who's only 26 and entering his prime. Though his Combat Skills presumably still need work along with his Power...Well, there's this fellow, name of Dante Scarnecchia...
12 ~ BT Danny Shelton. Also not a move that I would've made, yet also a good one, I believe. Trading a presumably late 3rd Rounder for an early 5th Rounder in order to get a good, young Bear Tackle to help anchor the Defensive Line? It seems like a move that'll very possibly produce an enormous ripple effect that'll benefit the entire Defense.
13 ~ CB Jason McCourty. How in the name of Jesus Jason McCourty is only pulling down $3 Million a year is beyond me to understand. He's still a good CornerBack!! He's probably passing his prime or about to, but going on 31 isn't exactly doddering his way to retirement!! Trading back from the 6th Round to the 7th for'm was a brilliant move.
14 ~ SE Cord Patterson. Not a good Split End. He's basically a Kick Returner for whom we traded back from the 5th Round to the 6th. I'd rather have the difference between the Picks, and draft fresh legs to return Kicks.
15 ~ OT Trent Brown. Excellent, excellent move. Brown did not meet my threshold of Scouting Reports in 2015, which is to say that neither was he drafted in the first 5 Rounds, nor did I perceive his Value as justifying a 5th Round Pick...But my judgement was based on enormous questions about his Intangibles, not on his natural talent, which, including his extraordinary WingSpan, is arguably 1st Round quality...And he has proven himself, while not exactly Tom Brady, you understand, greatly improved in terms of Conditioning and Motor, though with plenty of undeveloped upside. With Coach Scarnecchia around to guide'm, Brown could develop into a premier Left Tackle, approaching his prime.
16 ~ XB Brandin Cooks. Wonderful, wonderful move. As much as I hated and detested our having surrendered a 1st Rounder for Cooks, last year, I applaud our getting rid'f'm for a 1st Rounder this year. He's an elite Talent, as I wrote in 2013, but precisely the kind of "flash" player who helps get you into the PlayOffs, but doesn't help you win them...as he proved, incontestably, with that pansy-ass jump, inside the 10, which cost us a 1st Down, and, arguably, the Super Bowl.
#23 ~ Isaiah Wynn. A good value, I think. I rated Wynn as a Center, and believe that he'd make his best impact, there, perhaps supplanting Andrews, but I don't roll with convention when it comes to the classic Offensive Tackle Frame, and if Mad Bill and Coach Dante see Wynn as a Left Tackle, I certainly won't be the one to argue against it.
#31 ~ Sony Michel. I didn't like this move, at all. Michel is a very talented Runner, but a mediocre Blocker, mediocre Receiver, and given to coughing up the FootBall...And of course he's an HalfBack. Highly talented HalfBacks are routinely available in the middle rounds, the late rounds, and even as UFAs. Yeah. Not a fan of this Pick.
#43 to the Lions for #51 & #117. Love it. Trading Back. Love it. And I especially love it, because there was an enormous Air Pocket of Talent between the last 1st Round and the early 3rd...as there usually is. So if you can Trade Back and thus accumulate free extra Picks, it's a beautiful thing. All the better if you don't have to discount off Book Value.
#51 to the Bears for #105 and the Bears's 2019 2nd Rounder. Win!! Love it!! While I readily acknowledge and am entirely prepared to take advantage of the reality that other teams are often stupid enough to drastically discount Future Picks, generally at about a 50% discount, I do not agree that a Future Pick is worth even a dollar less than a current Pick...And as such, it seems to me that the Patriots and Bears simply swapped years ~ the Bears' Pick projects to about #51 and quite possibly better ~ in addition to which the Bears threw in a nice juicy early 4th Rounder for the privilege. Win!!
#63 & #117 to the Buccaneers for #56 ~ CF Duke Dawson. Blech. I did not like this move. I thought that Dawson was fine value for the Pick, but as a CenterFielder, not a CornerBack...And we've already got a couple of starting caliber CenterFielders. And to burn off a perfectly good 4th Rounder to Trade Up for'm? Again I say: Blech.
#105 to the Browns for #114 & #178. Love it!! More Picks!!
#114 to the Lions for the Lions's 2019 3rd Rounder. Awesome!! A 4th Rounder for a 3rd!! Beautiful!!
Alas, I haven't as yet completed my CyberScouting on the late round Picks, as yet, so I'll hold my peace!! A few comments?
A ~ I love, above all, what Mad Bill didn't do, once again: dump millions on expensive Free Agents.
B ~ I love, too, that, yet again, he managed to cover every position before The Draft, thus allowing him maximum flexibility in his decisions, and allowing him to draft always, once again, for Value, not for Need.
C ~ I've got big issues with the Michel and Dawson moves, but I was thrilled to see'm racking up all those extra Picks!!
A recap of the same names from above:
Free Agents ~ Departures
01 ~ OT Nate "Universal" Solder. Way too much Cap Space on a good Offensive Tackle who's nearing the end.
02 ~ CB Malcolm Butler. He's gone, regardless, of course.
03 ~ OT Cameron Fleming. I prefer raw talent to train over seasoned mediocrity.
04 ~ FB Danny Amendola. Love'm, but he's 33 and getting $6 Million.
Free Agents ~ Retentions
05 ~ SB Rex Burkhead. Phenomenal move. I've always been an enormous Rex Burkhead fan, and, for the money, if I had had to choose between Burkhead and Lewis, it would've actually been an easy call. Burkhead, like Lewis, is a legitimate 3 way threat ~ Running, Blocking, Receiving ~ and at 5103/216, is the perfect size for an HalfBack and incredibly agile.
06 ~ SB Dion Lewis!! I squeezed'm in, under the Cap...Nominally, anyway!! Lewis is a phenomenal SpeedBack in all three phases of the Game ~ Running, Blocking, Receiving ~ and is in'is prime!! Pay the man!!
Free Agents ~ Signings
First off: the Belichick signings that I most definitely would've signed off on:
07 ~ SE Jordan Matthews. An absolutely amazing signing. Matthews is talented, young, entering his prime, has already had success in multiple years, and is coming at a bargain basement price ~ $1 Million!!! ~ because he's coming off'f a horrific year, marred by lingering health issues that he says were the result of a faulty diagnosis. And the best thing about Jordan Matthews is that he's a very cerebral WideOut, and could rapidly become a favorite target of Tom Brady.
08 ~ OT Ulrick John. Absolutely love this move. John brings extraordinary agility and awesome intensity to the BattleField. In a world where Offensive Tackle talent is few and far between, Mad Bill managed to get an incredible athlete ~ with marginal Power, mind you!! ~ with a ferocious, focused mentality who's only 26 and entering his prime. Though his Combat Skills presumably still need work along with his Power...Well, there's this fellow, name of Dante Scarnecchia...
I would've passed on signing Hill, of course, and on Clayborn, as well. That was a solid move, but I've got my own ideas...
09 ~ YT Dontari Poe. Enough. FootBall is a game played by men, not ballerinas. Enough of this cute shit. Enough mixing and matching this and that in order to come up with clever Defenses that play really well for their talent level but can never be counted on in the Games that matter most. This past Super Bowl was only the culmination of a long process that goes back more than a decade, because everybody knows that the Patriots haven't fielded a top shelf Defense since 2004.
Enough of that shit. And I'm not even aiming for a 2004 level of Defense, either. I'm aiming to dominate. I'm aiming to destroy. And that starts up front. In The Trenches. Getting Danny Shelton was a very smart move, but screw that half-way shit, too. Shelton is a decent talent. I want Greatness at the most important position on the Defensive Line.
Dontari Poe is going on 28 in September. He's a Yeti Tackle, which means that he is enormous ~ 6033/345 with a sprawling WingSpan ~ and he is outrageously agile as well as being incredibly strong. He came out of Memphis in 2012 with raw Combat Skills and Field Vision, but he has now learned the Game, and can master it in New EngLand.
He is incredibly reliable, having played 94 out of a possible 96 Games despite working his way through painful maladies, and has emerged healthy, seasoned, entering his peak years...and at 3 Years and $27,000,000, incredibly cheap.
Poe has the capacity, especially if we surround'm with talent, as I intend to, to become the most destructive force in the entire Game. There is simply nobody his size who can like he can. He is a force of nature.
With Poe and Bear Tackle Malcolm Brown manning the middle of the Defensive Line, the most crucial part of our Defense has suddenly been transformed from a porous Liability into an enormous Strength. And I've just gotten started.
10 ~ DE Jovais Galette. Dragon End, like Chandler Jones or Rob Ninkovich. "Jovais" because I refuse to honor "Junior" as a name, because it's demeaning to the man. This is pure Hail Mary, this signing, and would be on extremely strict terms, because Galette has had multiple infractions with the Law, including one just a year ago. The only reasons why I'd highly recommend going after this guy, though, is because even though he's just turned 30, has had issues, and is currently unsigned because he had been considering retirement...he should come incredibly cheaply because he missed two full Seasons and then had just 3 Sacks, last year, he should finally now be 100%, having worked his way back from those consecutive achilles injuries...and he is one of the most explosively underrated Pass Rushers in FootBall.
So now, with rising star Trey Flowers, rapidly ascending talent Deatrich Wise, and Galette, we're suddenly kind'f deep at Dragon End, and can rotate these guys in and out, keep them fresh, and keep them explosive.
Depth of Talent along the Defensive Line, not the Legion of Boom, is what made the 2013 SeaHawks so awesome: They had no less than 7 talented Players heavily involved in the Defensive Line rotation, and by keeping them fresh, they kept them explosive, and by keeping them explosive, they kept up relentless pressure all...year...long. The Legion of Boom became famous because they reaped the rewards of what the Front Line was doing ~ and because Richard Sherman is a Prima Donna, of course. This echoed the 2004 Patriots, whose decimated Secondary survived because of our Front 7.
The Secondary often gets the accolades, but a dominant Defensive Line is what wins Championships.
11 ~ MF Navorro Bowman. MidFielder. "LineBacker", to you Earthlings. The Patriots simply don't consider MidFielders to be a vital part of Defense, anymore, which is a pretty amazing development. Dragons and Bandits ~ like Donta Hightower, who I used to incorrectly characterize as a Dragon ~ we have several of, but classic 6010/245 Pound MidFielders like Teddy Johnson or Bruschi? Ancient History. Elandon Roberts and Christian Sam are the only two on our 90 who qualify, and Roberts' size is far smaller than Johnson or Bruschi were. The Game has changed, Ladies & Laddies!!
That of course raises the question of why I would bother with Navorro Bowman. Bowman is going on 30, has been beset by a pair of horrible injuries that struck in his prime, plays a position that I've just suggested is getting phased out, and has reportedly lost enough of his agility that this erstwhile magnificent 3 Down Player is now merely a Thumper.
That may be so, but I'd prefer to find out. Bowman should finally be 100%, you see, having worked his way back through the gears from the 2nd injury last year, and history strongly suggests a very strong chance that he'll be considerably faster, coming into 2018, than he was, last year. I'm always reading about how this or that Player has "lost a step" during his recovery from a major injury, written by dolts who're presumably shocked, the next year, when he's finally 100%.
Players don't always recover back to their former selves, of course. They often do not.
But it happens a lot more often than most would have you believe.
I just think that it's distinctly possible that Navorro Bowman may have one or two peak years left in'm, despite the fact that we haven't seen his peak game in 4 full years ~ since 2013 ~ which is admittedly half a lifetime in FootBall Years. James Harrison, though, was still elite at 32, and Bowman was magnificent before the injuries derailed'm.
He's unsigned even now, so you know that he'd be dirt cheap.
Low Risk. High Potential!!
12 ~ CB Aaron Colvin. Colvin played Slot Corner for the Jaguars, last year, but he's no Slot Corner. That was the only way to get'm on the field. I gave Colvin a Beast Rank and 1st/2nd Round Grade in 2014, and after recovering from an injury that torched his 2014 campaign and then working his way up the ranks as a 4th Rounder, Colvin looks, based on his rocking second half of 2017, as if he's poised for stardom. 4 Years and $34,000,000 ain't chicken feed, but considering that some CornerBacks are getting nearly twice that, and that Colvin's 100% healthy and entering his prime, it seems to me that that contract could prove to be a spectacular bargain, when all is said and done. And bringing him in to join up with Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty would instantly transform CornerBack from a Liability with thin talent to a Strength.
13 ~ CB Delvin Breaux. Very talented, very coveted, a few years ago, and very forgotten, currently, after falling on hard times. But I would absolutely take out a flier on this highly talented CornerBack who's still in'is prime.
I'll have further moves to make during the Draft for our Defense...some major ones.
On to Offense!!
14 ~ OG Kevin Pamphile. Very raw former Defensive Lineman when he came out in 2014, but very, very talented, Pamphile predictably struggled in Tampa. But he's a classic case of unproven talent over proven mediocrity ~ or sub-mediocrity, as the Patriots and most teams tend to fill out their interior line depth with. And he's now had a few years to work his training through the gears, he's entering his prime, he's dirt cheap...And I would love to see what Dante can do with this guy.
15 ~ OG Xavier SauFilo. A very talented Offensive Guard who flamed out on Planet Hoosten after getting drafted #33 in 2014. I know that Coach Belichick prefers to sign UFA's who were 3rd Stringers on Division 47 Teams and let Coach Scarnecchia coach'm up, but I prefer some talent, if I can find it, and to let Coach Scar coach'm up. There's always the possibility that SuaFilo simply doesn't have what it takes, but he's dirt cheap, he's entering his prime years, and I'd much rather take my chances on that, than on a a Division 47 3rd Stringer, no offense to any'f those guys.
16 ~ OT Luke Joeckel. Heh. Yeah, as'f this writing, Joeckel is still unsigned. There is of course always the possibility with any Free Agent that something else is going on that isn't being published ~ usually a health concern. That's probably not a concern, here, but it's worth noting. Joeckel played Guard for the SeaHawks, last year, after flaming out as an Offensive Tackle with the Jaguars. But when he went 2nd overall in 2013, he brought top shelf Left Tackle talent to the Field of Battle...And, yes: I much prefer to see what Coach Dante can do with highly talented Draft Busts over lowly, untalented Division 47 3rd Stringers ~ not that some'f my favorite Binkies aren't Division 47 3rd Stringers!!
17 ~ PE Austin Sefarian Jenkins. Jenkins has certainly had a troubled past, and was certainly unexceptional, last year, on a bad Jets Team...But he's a recovering Alcoholic who's already done the hardest thing ~ burning through an entire year of sobriety. The first year of just about everything is far tougher than everything that follows, and I look at his situation as being very similar to that of a guy returning from a major injury: The second year is when he really starts to pay off. The second campaign is when everything should start rocking and rolling, again. Jenkins is an extraordinarily talented Power End, entering his prime, clean and sober, and at 2 Years and $10,000,000 ~ me, I'd try to lock'm up at 3 and 15!! ~ and quite possibly about to erupt, could prove to be the steal of the century. Gronkowski Insurance on steroids, baby!!
18 ~ WB Matthew Jones. WingBack. Jones was drafted as a PowerBack, but after some success, has quickly faded to the fringe as he enters his 4th Year. When I cyberscouted'm in 2015, I noted that he'd exhibited exceptional Blocking skills and decent and improvable Receiving skills. That combination is exactly what the doctor ordered for a WingBack, a Skill Set desperately in need, but extremely hard to come by in the 21st Century. Having a guy that can crack a few skulls as a Blocker, yet offer a legitimate Receiving option, is a very rare yet crucial weapon to have. And he's dirt cheap.
19 ~ SE Cody Latimer. Split End. 1 Year at $2,500,000. Kind'f pricey for a guy who's only caught 35 Balls in 4 Years, I must admit, but I was a big fan when he came out in 2014, and believe that things are locking into place for this highly talented Draft Bust just in time for's prime. He busted the Broncos, bless him, but may at last be poised to pay off!!
20 ~ XB Bruce Ellington. SlotBack. 1 Year at $1,250,000, an incredible bargain for a young and ascending SlotBack ~ that's Julian Edleman's position, for those scoring at home ~ with tons of talent, entering his prime. He would provide both a perfect compliment to Edelman and a replacement, should injuries arise: Amendola, but younger and far cheaper.
21 ~ FB Kenny Bell. A whack job who hasn't produced worth a farthing since I praised'm to the Heavens 3 years ago, but I figure: What the Hell?? He's passionate and plays hard. He just needs to focus his energy...and talent. Dirt cheap.
22 ~ PB Cortrelle Anderson. Holy Hell. Yeah, I've read some foolish crap about Anderson. The sweet reality is that we're talking about a 27 year old PowerBack with marginal wear on'is tread who's an excellent Runner, a very strong Blocker, and an accomplished Receiver, going for $1,750,000. Again, I say unto you: Holy Hell. If I was a believer in the assinine practice of running Lead Backs into the dirt, I would be delighted to feed Anderson out there on every Snap, and would do so with every expectoration of seeing'm amass 1500 Yards on the ground and another 600-900 through the air, while routinely crushing Blitzers. He and the others will be much more effective if we rotate them in and out, but Anderson is, to put it explicitly, the kind of HalfBack who wins SuperBowls in the 4th quarter for you. I'd lock'm up for far more than a year.
23 ~ SB Benny Cunningham. But at 216 Pounds, Cunningham is really neither a SpeedBack nor a PowerBack. He's simply a HalfBack, one who runs well and catches better, can block, is entering his prime, and is dirt cheap, bless'm!! He's essentially another James White, and I don't believe that you can have too many James Whites.
24 ~ P Patrick O'Donnell. Nothing against Allen, but I've always been intrigued by O'Donnell. I'd like to take a look.
Yeah, that's quite a few Free Agents!!
There're other guys who I would've loved to've signed, but who I couldn't convince myself we could've won over, even given this being a game of Fantasy General Manager, just because of better opportunities, elsewhere.
Indeed, it's no given that any of the guys on this list would've signed, in light of other opportunities. I believe that I could've sold'm all, but I presume nothing, even when I'm playing Fantasy General Manager!!
25 ~ PE Dwayne Allen. Power End. I like Allen more than most, but it's either him or Jenkins, and that's an easy call.
26 ~ SB Michael Gillislee. SpeedBack. I like Gillislee, too, though he disappointed, but that'll teach me to sign off on signing restricted Free Agents and coughing up Draft Picks for'm!! Never liked that kind've move, in the first place.
27 ~ SE Kenny Britt. Split End. Blech. Never liked the guy.
28 ~ FB Phillip Dorsett. Flanker. A Zoomer who can't run routes. No thanks.
29 ~ CB Eric Rowe. Not a bad Player. Just a victim of numbers.
30 ~ RB Jordan Richards. RoverBack. Oy.
All of this comes in right at the Salary Cap, by the way, including trades, below: I kept track on a Spread Sheet!!
That doesn't include the signings of Gallette, Bowman, or Joeckel, but it also doesn't mention the dozen or so additional cuts to fringe guys that I didn't want to bother any reader with ~ necessitated by my signings against the 90 man limit ~ and which'd obviously clearly up offsetting cap space, though further adjustments and cuts might have to be made.
And in the real world, it is very possible that I'd let Lewis go, just to keep a few bucks in reserve, and also with a mind towards the big contracts coming due, next year, with Trey Flowers, Shaq Mason, and Malcom Brown.
But this is all just a fun exercise for a Fantasy General Manager ~ though one who actually does aspire to amass a fortune, buy the Patriots, and implement these kinds of schemes in about 20 years!! ~ so Lewis stays!!
Mad Bill did brilliantly, again, so mostly I'm just signing off on all'f'm except the Shelton and Patterson trades.
And I am adding one, as well, outbidding the Cardinals for a young CornerBack that I like:
31 ~ CB Jamar Taylor. I thought that he was a Blue Chip Bargain in 2013 who nevertheless flamed out in Miami, but who recovered remarkably well in CleveLand...before being inexplicably dumped on the Cardinals for a 2020 6th Rounder!! A 2019 6th Rounder ought to outbid the Cardinals. He's due $4,250,000 in 2018, but even though I'm only getting a 4th CornerBack for my money, I believe that the 4th Corner is a crucial component of Roster Depth. Perhaps even more importantly, Taylor has emerged as a very good and improving Corner, and is entering his prime.
32 ~ CB Jason McCourty. How in the name of Jesus Jason McCourty is only pulling down $3 Million a year is beyond me to understand. He's still a good CornerBack!! He's probably passing his prime or about to, but going on 31 isn't exactly doddering his way to retirement!! Trading back from the 6th Round to the 7th for'm was a brilliant move.
33 ~ OT Trent Brown. Excellent, excellent move. Brown did not meet my threshold of Scouting Reports in 2015, which is to say that neither was he drafted in the first 5 Rounds, nor did I perceive his Value as justifying a 5th Round Pick...But my judgement was based on enormous questions about his Intangibles, not on his natural talent, which, including his extraordinary WingSpan, is arguably 1st Round quality...And he has proven himself, while not exactly Tom Brady, you understand, greatly improved in terms of Conditioning and Motor, though with plenty of remaining upside. With Coach Scarnecchia around to guide'm, Brown could develop into a premier Left Tackle, entering his prime.
34 ~ XB Brandin Cooks. Wonderful, wonderful move. As much as I hated and detested our having surrendered a 1st Rounder for Cooks, last year, I applaud our getting rid'f'm for a 1st Rounder this year. He's an elite Talent, as I wrote in 2013, but precisely the kind of "flash" player who helps get you into the PlayOffs, but doesn't help you win them...as he proved, incontestably, with that pansy-ass jump, inside the 10, which cost us a 1st Down, and, arguably, the Super Bowl.
So after all those nutty, cap-draining and rosters-stuffing moves, we've pretty much got the entire roster covered, which means that we can draft whoever we want!! These are the Picks we're staring off with, if I've kept track correctly:
So here we go...
* Please note: All Trades are based on Trades that actually happened. They are either perfect replicas of actual Trades, or I traded more value than was traded in the actual Trades, as our trading partners obviously wouldn't mind.
* For the sake of easier reading, I'll list all the Trades at once, and then the Picks.
43 ~ #23 + #63 ~ SeaHawks ~ #18 + #248.
Those with whom I've been bandying about Draft Talk for the last several years know that I've Traded Up in the 1st Round only twice: For Justin Watt in 2011 and for Aaron Donald in 2014. I don't really like the idea of trading up, generally, preferring to amass all the Picks!! But every once in a while, I'm willing to pay a very steep price.
44 ~ #31 ~ Titans ~ #57 + #89.
Most would scream in horror and disgust at this Trade, because it discounts #31 dramatically, giving about a 20% Discount to Book Value. So what the Hell am I thinking? I'm thinking that ~ as is often the case ~ there is a gigantic air pocket, running from about #20 or so to about #60 or so, meaning that for the Picks that got drafted along that stretch, I perceive little measurable difference in value from one end to the other. Therefore, if I can Trade Back and rack up extra picks, any acquired Picks are pure gravy, regardless of what Book Value says about it. This Trade, by the way is predicated on the actual Trade of #41 for #57 and #89. I also note that a far better value for #31 would've been #52 and the 2019 Ravens Second Rounder that the Eagles got for #32, but my focus is entirely on 2018, so this was more to that purpose.
All the rest of these Trades were based on real Trades, where we are trading a Pick ~ or Picks ~ either identical to (replicating the trade that actually happened) or superior in value to that which was actually traded, the supposition being that of course our theoretical trading partners would have no problem having us outbid somebody else to give them better value.
45 ~ #43 + #143 ~ Miners ~ #59 + #74.
46 ~ #59 ~ Raiders ~ #75 + #152 + #212.
47 ~ #74 ~ Chiefs ~ #86 + #122.
48 ~ #86 ~ Packers ~ #101 + #147.
49 ~ #101 ~ Browns ~ #114 + #178.
50 ~ #147 ~ SeaHawks ~ #156 + #226.
51 ~ #152 ~ Titans ~ #162 + #215.
52 ~ #156 ~ Vikings ~ #167 + #225.
53 ~ #198 ~ Chiefs ~ #233 + #243.
54 ~ #233 ~ Colts ~ LE Henry Anderson. Lion End. I'm not sure that I like Lion Ends very much, schematically, and I know for a fact that I didn't appreciate Henry Anderson when he went in the 3rd Round in 2013, but I believe that he's a tremendous Run Defender, an impressive and underrated Pass Rusher, poised for several years of excellence, perhaps greatness, if he can get healthy and stay there, just entering his prime at going on 27, and...dirt cheap!!
18 ~ BX Leighton Vander Esch
Leighton Vander Esch ~ Bandit ~ is nothing less than a flat out SuperFreak whose like we'ave never before seen.
He's got the frame of a Lineman but the athletic agility of a Defensive Back.
He's raw in Power and Combat Skills, but he improved at supersonic speed in just one year.
He is outrageously athletically gifted...and his Drive and Intelligence are cosmic.
You can build a Defense around this guy.
You can build a Locker Room around this guy.
Hell, you can build a City around this guy.
Pay the man.
57 ~ WT Patrick Hall
A powerful, explosive, and penetrating Wolf Tackle who'd've gone Top 10 if the league wasn't run by such a bunch of pansies who've evidently never heard of Aaron Donald and therefore don't understand that a Tackle doesn't have to weigh 320 pounds to be Strong. I'm not putting Hall on the Donald's level, mind you, but he has the potential to be one of the most devastating interior Pass Rushers in the league, and he is stout in Run Defense at The Point of Attack!!
75 ~ DE Samuel Hubbard
He's got far more Agility than Power, but improving rapidly each year. Hubbard is my favorite Dragon End in this Draft. He is absolutely relentless on the Field of Battle, incredibly diagnostically acute, and clearly driven to be great. He's virtually guaranteed to exceed expectations and inspire others to do the same ~ a natural-born Leader.
89 ~ YT Harrison Phillips
Absolutely love this kid. Yeti Tackle. Power but dubious Agility. Awesome Combat Skills, Field Vision, and Processing Speed, though, and a magnificent Motor. Phillips is the kind of Trench Gorilla who sets a furious tone and gets the entire Defense playing at a higher level, all day, every day. Phillips is the kind of guy who changes a locker room's culture.
114 ~ WT Maurice Hurst
1st Round Talent whose stock plummeted because of health concerns!!
122 ~ GB Shaquem Griffin
1st Round Talent whose stock plummeted because of health concerns!! Griffin, amusingly to me, is probably considered a bit of a charity case and one of Coach Carroll's ~ Seattle took'm at #141 ~ eccentric Picks. Maybe a Special Teamer, if he's lucky...Not by me, he isn't. I see Griffin as a savage, an inspirational Leader, a Starter, and a Play Maker.
162 ~ BT Timothy Settle
Bear Tackle. A very stout Run Defender and highly underrated Pass Rusher who should've gone way earlier!!
167 ~ QB Michael White
I have a far higher grade on this guy than the Market does. Raw in many ways, and would have to learn how to play as actual QuarterBack, after years in Spread Offenses, but exhibits a startling propensity to work progressions, check down when needed, and spread the ball around, all'f which speaks to Processing Speed. And, unlike the vast majority of my beloved Processing Speed Binkies with noodle arms, White can actually sling it!! There is serious potential, here.
178 ~ YT Foley Fatukasi
Raw, but with top shelf Power, some Agility, an absolutely awesome Frame, and a tremendous Motor.
212 ~ Binkie To Be Named Later
215 ~ Binkie To Be Named Later
219 ~ Binkie To Be Named Later
225 ~ Binkie To Be Named Later
226 ~ Binkie To Be Named Later
243 ~ Binkie To Be Named Later
248 ~ Binkie To Be Named Later
Assorted Potential Binkies
QB Luis Perez
OT Desmond Harrison ~ he's a definite. Supremely talented, potential All Pro Left Tackle. Oh...There may be some concerns.
MF Tegray Scales
GB Asantay Brown
CB Keion Crossen
CB Grant Haley
XB Riley McCarron
XB Braxton Berrios
And I wasn't aiming for 2004 levels of Patriots Defenses.
I was aiming far higher.
Tom Brady ~ Greatest Of All Time. That fanatically focused QuarterBack, improving every Year, a dedicated and appreciative teammate, and one who torches about $15,000,000 or so a Year ~ what do you think that Brady would haul in, if he were a Free Agent?? ~ just to create Cap Space and give his team a better chance to win the Super Bowl. He'll do.
Michael White ~ Raw, but with All Pro Potential.
Luis Perez ~ Raw, unknown Potential.
Brian Hoyer ~ Solid Auxiliary.
David Andrews ~ Solid Starter.
Right Guard ~ Shaq Mason ~ Young, Impressive, and improving as he approaches his prime.
Left Guard ~ Joseph Tuney ~ Young, Effective, and improving.
Guard ~ Xavier SauFilo ~ Young, with a lousy resume as a Starter, but highly talented. Dante.
Guard ~ Kevin Pamphile ~ Young and raw, but highly talented. Dante.
Tremendous Depth of Talent.
Left Tackle ~ Trent Brown ~ Young, decent skills, phenomenal WingSpan, solid Starter, approaching his Prime.
Right Tackle ~ Marcus Cannon ~ Young, Impressive, and in his Prime.
Tackle ~ Desmond Harrison ~ Haven't written'm up, yet, but supremely talented despite his long list of Red Flags. By drafting him rather'n bidding against 31 team in UFA Land, we get First Dibs. If he's an irretrievable Ass, then by all means: Let's cut'm loose with no material cost...But if he's salvageable, he could become one'f the all-time Draft Steals.
Tackle ~ Luke Joeckel ~ Young, with a lousy resume as a Starter, but highly talented. Dante.
Tackle ~ Ulrick John ~ Young and raw, but highly talented. Dante.
With a very young Line getting better as they develop, despite the loss of Solder, for whom Brown should be a very sufficient replacement, and with vastly improved Depth of Talent, this could become an enormous Asset.
Rob Gronkowski ~ The Best Ever, and now that he's all pliable and stuff, he might be around in January!!
Austin Sefarian Jenkins ~ Actually the most potentially dynamic #2 Power End we've had.
Troy Niklas ~ A moderately talented, young Reserve.
Will Tye ~ Ditto. He's seasoned, as well.
This should be a seismic Asset. Being able to send both'f'm out there on any Snap would give us unprecedented Hybrid Possibilities ~ Run/Pass Options ~ where we can dominate in Blocking or be unmatchable as Receivers.
Matthew Jones ~ A very variable X Factor who can Run Block, Run, or Receive effectively.
Jordan Matthews ~ Good, young, smart, and talented.
Cody Latimer ~ Raw, but with top shelf Talent.
Julian Edelman ~ The best in the business, but he shouldn't really be 100% until 2019.
Christopher Hogan ~ Ascending Warrior, approaching his Prime.
Malcolm Mitchell ~ Young, effective, and improving.
Kenny Bell ~ Young, talented, and unproven.
Bruce Ellington ~ Young, talented, and unproven.
With Power End fielding 2 Starters, WideOuts needs only 2, as well.
That being the case, we have terrific Depth of Talent.
Cortrelle Anderson ~ An excellent PowerBack, in his Prime, with 3 or 4 strong Years left in'm at a minimum, as he's seen a minimum of wear and tear. He Runs, Blocks, and Receives well. An outstanding weapon to have.
Brandon Bolden ~ Allegedly the most average PowerBack in all the land...but scrappy and reliable at all times.
Dion Lewis ~ Short, but powerful. Explosive outside, strong inside, a solid Blocker and exceptional Receiver. One of the best.
Rex Burkhead ~ Dangerous in all 4 aspects of the Game, young, improving, and approaching his Prime!!
James White ~ An impressive Runner and an awesome Receiver. Sensational in The Clutch.
Benny Cunningham ~ Young, runs well, catches well, blocks OK. Talented & versatile.
Awesome Depth of Talent at this crucial position.
Core Defensive Line ~ Bears, Wolves, Lions, and Yetti
YT ~ Dontari Poe ~ SuperBeast, in his Prime.
BT ~ Malcom Brown ~ Warrior, approaching his Prime.
WT ~ Patrick Hall ~ Rookie. Potential SuperBeast.
YT ~ Harrison Phillips ~ Rookie. Potential Beast.
WT ~ Maurice Hurst ~ Rookie. Potential SuperBeast.
YT ~ Foley Fatukasi ~ Rookie. Potential Beast.
BT ~ Timothy Settle ~ Rookie. Potential Beast.
LE ~ Henry Anderson ~ Ascending Warrior.
Options!! I want...options.
Needless to say, this is where the focus of my Master Plan is: Overload the defensive Front Lines with an overwhelming level of talent ~ with an searing emphasis on Prospects who are absolutely loaded with Intelligence and Drive ~ hire all the best Defensive Coaches in all the land who don't mind getting paid exorbitantly bloated salaries in return for their considerable expertise and hard work, and develop 2, 3, and 4 man Fronts of various configurations to terrify and annihilate our Foes.
The idea would be that Poe, Brown, and Anderson get most of the Snaps at the beginning of the Year, but that the others are expected to develop...and that by December, we would expect to have 8 Warrior Savages rotating in and out, playing at increasingly effective and disruptive levels, and mauling their way to Glory as the rest of the Defense benefits!!
Hybrids ~ Dragons
Trey Flowers ~ Ascending Star.
Deatrich Wise ~ Young, Effective, and rapidly improving.
Jovais Gallette ~ X Factor who could certainly flame right out, but poised for a potentially extraordinary 2 or 3 Years.
Samuel Hubbard ~ Rookie, but with tremendous Potential as a Player and as a Leader.
Bandits & MidFielders
BX ~ Donta HighTower ~ Brittle but brilliant, a Beast in'is Prime.
BX ~ Leighton Vander Esch ~ Rookie, but with the Potential for historic Greatness.
BX ~ Kyle Van Noy ~ Young, Effective, and improving.
BX ~ Marquis Flowers ~ Young, raw, but with Potential.
MF ~ Navarro Bowman ~ SuperStar, recovered from injuries, possibly past his peak...but possibly not.
Gryphons & RoverBacks
GB ~ Shaquem Griffin ~ Rookie, but with exceptional Potential.
RB ~ Patrick Chung ~ Impressive and still in his Prime, though poised to pass it.
Devin McCourty ~ Warrior in his Prime.
Duron Harmon ~ Solid Starter in his Prime.
Stephon Gilmore ~ Beast in his Prime.
Aaron Colvin ~ Ascending Warrior with Beast Potential, approaching his Prime.
Jamar Taylor ~ Effective Starter. Warrior Potential. Young and improving.
Jason McCourty ~ Effective Veteran, still near his Prime.
Devlin Breax ~ Beast level talent. Is he healthy?
Strong Depth of Talent at every position, Greatness at QuarterBack, Power End, and HalfBack, plenty of Talent and Depth at WideOut, and despite one question ~ Left Tackle ~ on the Offensive Line, an ascending Line.
All in all: Poised, once again, to terrorize. If Left Tackle is good, we're virtually unstoppable.
The Plan is simple: Develop the best Coaching Staff, by far, that anyone's ever seen, by getting all the best coaching talent in the world who value being part of something extraordinary, paying them what they're actually worth ~ that is: far more than Coaches tend to get paid ~ and set them to work in developing this historically deep and talented crew.
Between Talent, Intelligence, Drive, incredible Depth of Talent, and historically unprecedented Depth of Coaching, develop not the best Defense of the Salary Cap Era, but of any Era: A Front 6 ~ or 5, or 7, or 4, depending on things!! ~ of such unprecedented Depth of Talent and Depth of Coaching as to wreak Havoc at an historic level.
A Secondary locked and loaded to take full advantage and shut all Offenses down.
The Idea would be to take the World by storm in 2018, finishing in a frenetic frenzy that annihilates all Offenses.
The Defense thence to develop further, to an unprecedented level of Mayhem in 2019, while the world shakes and quakes.
Ascending towards its peak in 2020, the D would lead the way to the world's first Super Bowl 3 Peat.
And then...it would hit its prime.
Big Picture ~ Long Term Plan
Meanwhile, we've got Tom Brady...and if he ever ages?
I'm sure we'll come up with something.