Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. So Bill Parcells is officially no longer associated with the Dolphins, closing another chapter in his career. Giants, Patriots, Jets, Cowboys and Dolphins – Parcells helped turn them all around. But if you ask me which one is harder – Parcells’ quick turnarounds-and-departures or Bill Belichick’s sustained success in one spot – I’m taking Belichick. No question about it.
2. While Mike Shanahan has a reputation for finding unheralded running backs, I have a hunch that he’ll have a hard time passing on Alabama’s Mark Ingram with the No. 10 pick if Ingram is available. The Redkins don’t have third- and fourth-round picks, and I could envision a first-round scenario in which that leads them to Ingram.
3. The Carolina Panthers earned the highest 2011 compensatory draft pick, at the end of the third round (97th overall). That pick was awarded as a result of them losing defensive end Julius Peppers in free agency. The Patriots got that pick once – in 2009, the year after Asante Samuel left in free agency – and selected linebacker Tyrone McKenzie (now in Tampa).
4. The Patriots’ nine draft picks rank as the third highest among NFL teams this year. Only San Francisco (12) and Philadelphia (10) have more. The Lions have the fewest picks (5).
5. Some might think it’s risky for the Eagles to trade quarterback Kevin Kolb, given that Michael Vick seems more prone to injury. But my sense is that the Eagles also like third-stringer Mike Kafka, a fourth-round draft choice out of Northwestern, and that’s contributing to their willingness to possibly deal Kolb.
6. If you’re a Patriots Hall of Fame voter, do running backs Curtis Martin and Corey Dillon get in? Tough call. You can make a strong case for Martin as the best back in franchise history, and Dillon had the best single season in team history. But both were here for just three years.
7. Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell attended this year’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference as a guest. He passed on the chance to be a panelist, instead saying the goal was to keep a low profile and make sure he was keeping an open mind to looking at sports in different ways.
8. Random thought: Given all the hype surrounding the draft, and the build-up that includes the Senior Bowl and combine, the Patriots’ selection of Sebastian Vollmer in the 2009 second round is all the more impressive. Vollmer, a second-team All-Pro selection in 2010, wasn’t invited to the combine and reflects how the Patriots do a great job staying true to their own drafting beliefs and not getting caught up in the “popular” way of thinking.
9. Defensive end/outside linebacker Aaron Maybin, the Bills’ first-round draft choice in 2009, didn’t exactly get a vote of confidence from coach Chan Gailey at last week’s NFL annual meeting. Maybin could be close to falling into Vernon Gholston territory (0 sacks in 2 seasons), and is a reminder of the seemingly higher risk in selecting “tweeners” early in the draft.
10. Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward is scheduled to work out at Ohio State’s Pro Day on March 30, and it’s a date I’ve had marked since the NFL combine. I was impressed with Heyward’s presence and think teams will want to see how his injured elbow has healed to this point.