Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. Renewals for Patriots season ticket holders are due March 31. I wonder how this latest news – the union decertifying and owners locking players out – will affect the decision-making of some fans.
2. ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi makes you think when he says the Patriots can’t make all their draft picks this year because the team risks becoming too young. If the labor situation isn’t resolved by the draft, though, trading for veteran players won’t be an option. So that would mean trading those picks into 2012.
3. The Patriots are one of the power players in this year’s draft, with six of the first 92 selections. The Chargers are also a team to watch, with five of the first 89. For teams looking to trade, Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Chargers general manager A.J. Smith will be popular.
4. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s Top 32 prospects in the NFL draft is a good read. I was especially interested in his analysis that he envisions Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan being able to play outside linebacker for 3-4 teams. Kerrigan, one of the draft's most explosive pass-rushers, would help the Patriots' 32nd-ranked third-down defense, but the question is probably how much the Patriots think he could help in the 3-4.
5. One other article that hit home came from SI.com’s Don Banks. I won’t write much on the labor situation in this space unless it directly affects the Patriots, but if I was, Banks’ piece would best reflect my thoughts on the issue.
6. When it comes to Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, I think it’s fair to question his off-field decision-making. The Patriots can't be pleased. At the same time, I think the best approach is to wait for more facts before declaring his Patriots career over. From this perspective, initial reports that Meriweather shot two people seemed rushed, an unfortunate result of today’s instant-media landscape.
7. What am I missing when it comes to the connection between the Dolphins and running back Mark Ingram, who is often slotted to Miami in mock drafts with the 15th overall pick? I’m not even sure Ingram will be there, but more than anything I think the Dolphins -- who don’t have a second-round pick after trading for Brandon Marshall -- need a quarterback. I see them reaching up for one in the first round, possibly with Jake Locker.
8. Bodog.com had some fun with veteran running back Tiki Barber announcing his plans to return to the NFL, giving him 10-to-1 odds of joining the Patriots. I’d add a few 0’s to those odds. More like 1,000,000-to-1. Don't see it happening.
9. Kudos to Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff for earning a contract extension last week. When Dimitroff left for Atlanta in January of 2008, it wasn’t viewed by many as a desirable job. But Dimitroff had the vision – starting with signing free-agent running back Michael Turner and drafting a quarterback (Matt Ryan) and left tackle (Sam Baker) in the first round – and now the Falcons are well-positioned entering the fourth season of the Dimitroff/Mike Smith regime.
10. Another week, another set of college Pro Days. After the Patriots picked three University of Florida players last year (Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez), Tuesday will give the team a closer look at this year’s crop of Gators. It won’t be a surprise if Bill Belichick, who is touring Florida on his annual scouting trip, is present Tuesday.
11. More details to come, but for those interested in the Patriots, NFL Draft or a sports media career, come join me at the Hall at Patriot Place on Thursday night, April 21. I’ll pass along the final details when available.