Another busy April for Boston sports

Posted 4/25/24

Thursday marks one of my favorite days on the sports calendar: The NFL Draft.

This is perhaps the most intriguing draft that the New England Patriots have faced this century as they currently …

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Another busy April for Boston sports


Thursday marks one of my favorite days on the sports calendar: The NFL Draft.

This is perhaps the most intriguing draft that the New England Patriots have faced this century as they currently hold the No. 3 overall pick and have a roster that is littered with holes.

The presumed selection in the first round is a quarterback, whether it is LSU’s Jayden Daniels, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, or Michigan’s JJ McCarthy. Although I tend to agree with most mock drafts that forecast a signal caller, the options are fascinating.

Patriot staffers have left the door open for a potential trade back in order to grab some additional picks. That is the right call considering the number of issues this team has and the concerns of the quarterbacks that will be in the conversation.

Daniels is too run-dependent, Maye is too erratic in his processing, McCarthy lacks elite physical tools. All three have enough to be considered in the first round and all three have a chance to become franchise players. However, the Pats are better off kicking the can down the road, grabbing another few picks and rebuilding the rest of the roster.

Drafting a developmental quarterback is essential. If New England drops to later in the first round, one of the aforementioned signal callers may still be available. If not, guys like Bo Nix and Michael Penix will almost certainly still be there to take. Although most scouts are lower on those two, they are not all that far off, if at all, from the other guys listed ahead of them.

New England desperately needs an offensive tackle. It needs a wide receiver, perhaps two. It needs a cornerback, a free safety. All of these needs must be addressed for this team to take a step forward.

Anything past, say, the third round is essentially a flier. No prospect is ever a sure thing, but the hit rate in rounds 1-3 is much better than 4-7. Point being, the Pats need to accumulate an additional pick or two in the first three rounds and address all of these needs. Either way, this season will be a rebuild, but if they can add some good young players at those positions, they could at least be competitive and approach a .500 record.

I understand the urgency to draft a quarterback. I understand that sometimes, you can’t mess around and you just need to get the best guy available, even if you are taking a risk.

Well, although I agree with that notion in most cases, I disagree this time around. Caleb Williams is going first overall to Chicago and is the clear-cut best at the position this season. The next five or six guys are all roughly the same. Trade back, take one of those guys, and focus on rebuilding the rest of the roster.

Staying on the national scene, Boston also has the Celtics and Bruins in the first round of their respective playoff runs. I say it all the time, but April is the best month on the professional sports calendar. The NFL Draft, NBA and NHL playoffs, the beginning of the MLB season, The Masters. It’s a lot of fun.

Well, back to the C’s and B’s. My hopes are high for one and not so much the other.

Let’s start with the Celtics.

Anything short of a championship win is a failure. The team has pushed all of it chips to the center of the table for the past two seasons and has truly developed the league’s best roster. It was reflected in its league-best record this regular season.

The Eastern Conference is weak. The best team other than Boston is Milwaukee, but the Bucks are banged up and haven’t had an answer for the Celtics all things considered. Boston should have no trouble winning the conference and reaching the finals.

The one team this season that has really been better than the Celtics has been the defending champion Nuggets in the West. Boston had the better record, but Denver won both meetings.

Denver is almost the anti-Boston. Big, strong, physical and mean. The Celtics are a finesse team that relies on speed, ball movement and sharp shooting. If the ball is not falling, then things get tough for the Celtics, especially against smash mouth opponents like Denver.

If Denver should get bounced short of the finals, then the Celtics will win it all. If they meet, that becomes a 50-50 bet. If I had to chose right here, right now, I’m going Denver. The Celtics just haven’t proven that they can beat them in a seven-game series.

As for the Bruins, I’ll be much briefer. I don’t believe in them.

Last year’s historic collapse … perhaps the biggest implosion in the history of the sport … has left a bitter taste in my mouth. Sure, this is a new team, new season, but I can’t get past what we witnessed last season. The best regular season team in history bounced in the first round.

Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark are overrated in the net and the Bruins just don’t have enough pop in the third and fourth lines to keep up with the elite teams. Although the defense is young and tough, playoff games are won with sharp goaltending and efficient offense. The Bruins will struggle with each no matter how long they last.

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