|Does it matter that the Patriots drafted a lot of college captains again this year?||05.02.11 at 11:21 am ET|
In last year’s draft, five of the 12 picks the Patriots made were players were captains in college: Zoltan Mesko, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Taylor Price, and Devin McCourty.
This season, six of the nine players the Patriots selected in the draft were collegiate captains: first-rounder Nate Solder, second-round picks Ras-I Dowling and Shane Vereen, third-rounders Stevan Ridley and Ryan Mallett (the latter of whom was a two-year captain at Arkansas), as well as fifth-round pick Lee Smith (another two-year captain).
For a quarterback like Mallett, leadership comes with the territory.
“The thing I like about the position is you get to lead a group of guys during the practice, during the game, the final minute of the game, whatever it is,” he said. “You’re responsible for the 10 other guys on the field and yourself to get things done right. And that’s what I really enjoy about the position.”
The last few seasons, leadership has been a big theme in the New England locker room, and while the first-year players won’t be asked to do much when it comes to team-wide leadership, the experience of serving as a captain can be useful in many aspects when it comes to both rallying fellow rookies and learning how to communicate with veterans. We saw that last year with an extraordinary group of rookies who helped shape the new direction of the New England locker room in 2010. And while the state of leadership in the New England locker room isn’t as tenuous as it was a couple of years ago, the Patriots are always mindful of a players’ resume, and for someone to be named a college captain speaks to their character.
However, after the draft concluded, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said that while the Patriots value many of the same aspects that come with being a team captain, they don’t go into a draft looking specifically for guys who have been college captains.
“We don’t go into the draft saying, ‘We want to get four team captains.’ We don’t go into the draft saying, ‘We want so many guys over 6-foot-4 or so many guys from East of the Mississippi or so many guys that whatever.’ You just look at each situation and try to make the best decision you can on it.
“I’d say those kind of things – I wouldn’t say they are purely coincidental, because certainly we value leadership and we value some of the characteristics that normally are associated with that type of position: respect and hard work and unselfishness and things like that. But we’re drafting football players and not everybody is a team captain. There are plenty of good players that aren’t, but there is something to be said for that.”
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