Patriots end a long night of waiting with a decent pick
So, you like the National Football League Draft?
Well, we’ll let you in on a secret. It’s not exactly the most glamourous night in sports if you cover or are even a fan of the New England Patriots. Not when they are AFC Champions every year.
That means they’ll pick, with luck, just before midnight, nearly four hours after the draft begins. You watch. You wait. You watch some more, you wait some more.
But imagine what it’s like for the players waiting with family members all huddled around the TV in whatever location was chosen for the gathering. At 11:53 p.m. Thursday, the Patriots eventually picked Arizona State big (6-4) wide receiver N’Keal Harry with the 32nd choice. Harry was huddled with about 50-60 friends and relatives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and you better believe they felt the party was dying down.
“It was so surreal, especially for me, waiting that long and getting to the end of the first round,” Harry said. “I was honestly starting to think maybe I had to start getting ready for Day 2. So, when I got that call, I tried not to be emotional, but I couldn’t really hold it back at that point.”
It was a long, long haul. But for the Patriots, Harry was good enough to buck the Belichcik trend of never drafting a receiver in the first round.
“We’re not concerned about what’s happened in the past,” Patriots personnel guru Nick Caserio said. “We look at the players across this year’s board and we stack the players obviously horizontally and vertically and then we work acrosse, so it’s the same thing we did with Sony (Michel) last year.
“We drafted Sony at the bottom of the first round. So, he was a good player, a highly graded playter, so relative to the options we were looking at, that was the choice that we made. Whatever happens in the past really has no bearing because it has no relevance to this year.”
True, right? It was interesting to see the patriots.com video of Belichick staring at the board and stacks of names when it was time to make the pick and saying, “For me, it’s Harry.”
Gotta love it. Were you surprised that Belichck didn’t trade out of the first round for a second, third, and first for next year? Or whatever? To wait that long, and have that happen, well, that would have been the ultimate in frustration for all of us except Belichick.
But Harry, his family, friends, Patriot fans and media didn’t have to experience that. The Patriots needed help at receiver, and they needed someone who could go up and get the football in a crowd, the way the game is today. Sure looks like this kid can do just that, and you know one Tom Brady is thrilled.
“I would say one of the things he does well is he plays the ball in the air,” Caserio said. “I would say the coverage in this league is tight, regardless of the type of player or receiver that you are. … You get the ball in his hands and he’s been able to make some yards. We’;ll see if that translates over to us here when we get him.”
“Whenever that ball is in the air,” Harry said, “I’ll sacrifice anything to get it.”
It was funny, the Patriots took their sweet time making this pick. It used to be if you didn’t make a pick in 10 minutes you lost it, but now that’s not the case.
“If it runs out, eventually you have to pick,” Caserio said with a chuckle. “You’ve got to figure out something to do if the clock runs out. … If you do it, you could wait until tomorrow morning. Like, could we wait until seven o’clock (yesterday) to make the pick? The league probably wouldn’t like that, but at some point we’d probabaly have to do something.”
The league? There’d be a lot of others who wouldn’t have liked it. But thank goodness the Patriots saved us all and made their pick.
And it doesn’t look like a bad one, either.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.firstname.lastname@example.org