Patriots Draft Wrap: The Next Vrabel?

I’m happy that the Patriots drafted two offensive lineman, Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon. Mostly because it’s sort of what I predicted. (If I were smart, I’d have continued with my age/experience theme and predicted they’d draft a couple running backs, too. Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, and Fred Taylor are a combined 104 years old.)

But I really wanted the Patriots to draft an outside linebacker, and they did in the sixth round. My first impression of their pick, Markell Carter? He looks and sounds like a sharp kid. He played defensive end in college, common enough for guys transitioning to OLB in 3-4 NFL defenses. Carter also played TE in high school, which speaks to his versatility. With his experience as a receiver, we may even see him lining up as an eligible receiver in short yardage situations, as Mike Vrabel did. (I’ll never forget Vrabel catching that touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXXVIII.)

Assuming Carter works hard and stays healthy, I could easily see him developing into a consistent edge rusher. I haven’t watched all of his tape from Central Arkansas, obviously, but from what I can tell, he can get to the quarterback in about three seconds or less, which is good. While he doesn’t appear to be as strong as he probably needs to be, he’s most effective when sliding or spinning around protection, which is the technique that Vrabel would often employ to great success. Certainly a speeding, sliding, spinning edge rusher is exactly the kind of pressure the Patriots need to be able to bring consistently. After all the comparisons I’ve made already, is it too soon to say Markell Carter could be the next Mike Vrabel? (Fine, fine, it’s too soon.)

As for their other picks, I’m glad they picked up two offensive lineman, and their running back selections seem to be pretty good. Ryan Mallet could turn out to be a really smart long-term pick, either as a quality backup, or as trade bait after a year or two in the Patriots system. Also, after reading and listening to all of their interviews and conference calls, I couldn’t help but think that these kids have already gotten a crash course from Belichick on how to handle reporters in trademark Patriots fashion.

Smith: It was just so humbling and so rewarding.

Dowling: Just try to perform to the best of my abilities.

Vereen: I just see myself coming in as a player looking for an opportunity to play.

Spoken like true ten-year veterans of the Pats.

Moving on to more important things, I’m not sure I’m all that comfortable with the Patriots-hating that’s been going on around here. I won’t respond in kind, as easy as that would be.

Plus, I can think of a few reasons to root the Giants:

  1. Belichick had his first real success in the NFL with the Giants. If it weren’t for them, he probably wouldn’t be who he is today. The history between the two organizations runs deep. So if my second-favorite team is Belichick’s second-favorite team, that’s OK by me.

  2. The Giants are New York’s non-Jets team.

  3. The Giants are rarely a direct threat to the Patriots (except when they are — sigh).

Nathan Goulding — Nathan Goulding is the Chief Technology Officer of National Review. He often goes by “Chaka” in NRO’s popular blog The Corner. While having never attended a class in computer science, ...

Most Popular


The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More