Derek: I think the first round was fairly underwhelming for Patriots fans, but that's usually the case each year as Trader Bill either moves his pick back or into next year. Nate Solder was a solid pickup with #17 when you consider he easily would have been off the board by the time pick #28 rolled around. The Patriots seem pretty high on him, so we should expect big things. He should add some stability to an offensive line that has a lot of questions at the moment.
It's tough to end the evening without any pass rush support, but the Patriots now have three picks in the 2nd round to address that area, so we'll just have to wait until tomorrow.
As far as the #28 trade goes, I don't think the Patriots missed out on much by passing on Ingram. I would have been excited if we had picked him, but there's a strong corps of backs to be had in later rounds. I like that New England has two 1st round picks again next year as it gives the team added flexibility and it will be fun to speculate again next April. It would have been nice if it were a "worse" team than New Orleans as the pick will likely be in the late 20's again, but picking up a future 1st and a 2nd this year is good value for that pick, especially considering that the Pats will lead off with pick #33 tomorrow.
Overall, I expect to hear some disappointment from fans, but I think that when the dust settles on the 2nd and 3rd rounds, we will see a lot of needs filled.
Stephen: Nate Solder at 17 was definitely a surprise with Cameron Jordan still on the board. I think he would have been a great fit in our defense
because of his versatility and intelligence. That being said, Solder has the most upside of any tackle in the draft due to his incredible size and
athleticism. I can't fault the Pats for drafting the left tackle of the future to protect Brady.
While I would have loved to see Ingram in a Patriots uniform, the depth of the running back class in rounds two and three are too good to invest another first-rounder on offense. The Saints' 2012 first-round pick won't be very high, but it helps to have another piece to work with. The Pats did well to pick up a second-rounder and will be major players Friday with three picks in the round.
However, I think it hurt that the Jets and Steelers took Muhammad Wilkerson and Cameron Heyward with two of the last three picks in round one because there aren't any other viable five-technique options left. Perhaps Belichick doesn't feel this is as big of a need as fans think, but the Pats will have to hit on an outside linebacker (Brooks Reed, Jabaal Sheard, Akeem Ayers) with No. 33.
If they don't address the front seven with at least one impact player, this draft will be very disappointing.
Jason: I think Stephen hit the nail on the head. Wilkerson and Heyward going to two of the top AFC teams was a tough pill to swallow. I don't like any of the remaining five-techniques, and the pass-rushers who are still out there do not inspire a whole lot of confidence. Missing out on Ingram didn't bother me in the least, but watching the top two remaining DEs get snatched by bitter rivals was painful to watch. The return on the trade with New Orleans was a great value, but at some point, the Pats are going to have so start placing a greater priority on getting quality instead of quantity.
I loved the pick of Solder from a talent perspective. If he adds strength and refines his technique, the sky is the limit. It makes me wonder a bit about Matt Light's future with the team though. If you're taking a player at 17, you're not going to sit him for a year. Neither players seems to have the ideal skill set to move inside to guard for a year or two, so the Pats will still have to address that position in the second round. It's hard to argue with taking a potential Pro Bowl tackle in the first round, but after seeing how the rest of the first round played out, I'm not sure if he was the best pick in hindsight.
Tomorrow's picks should be interesting. There aren't a whole lot of sure-fire impact players in the front 7 left on the board. I won't be terribly surprised to see the Pats focus on the offensive line and maybe look at cornerbacks before the sun sets tomorrow. The pass rush may have to wait. Again.
Rick: I have to agree that it hurt watching guys like Cameron Jordan, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Mark Ingram leave when New England had a great chance to take them and two of them going to AFC rivals. But, despite missing that impact player, I liked what the Patriots did at pick 17. They got a solid left tackle in Nate Solder who can make an impact right away. Matt Light's contract leverage just went away, so the Patriots could get him at the right price or let him walk and focus on another position of need in free agency. The Pats now get 2 first round picks in 2012, which is okay, but I can't wait for them to get an impact player sooner or later. However, I said that last year when they passed up Dez Bryant for Devin McCourty.
Day 2 is where I have the feeling they will make a big move. There is a small chance that after 8 AM the NFL will allow trades to be made for players. This is where New England can use the 5 picks on Day 2 to trade for an impact skill player or a pass rusher. Guys like Steve Smith of the Panthers and Sidney Rice of the Vikings come to mind. I don't think they will take Mikel LeShoure, but keep an eye late in Round 2 on Ryan Williams. This kid is a physical running back with good speed at Virginia Tech.
I give New England a B- for the first round, but New Orleans made the moves we all thought the Patriots would make. However, in Belichick we trust, right?