All Patriots draft picks moved to 2nd round as punishment for taping Bengals

Published: 4/1/2020 4:48:03 PM
Modified: 4/1/2020 4:46:56 PM
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Stating that the “sanctity of media credential rules is vital to the integrity of the game,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday handed down a stern punishment against the New England Patriots for videotaping the Cincinnati sideline during a Bengals’ game at Cleveland in December. As a result, the Patriots will be required to forfeit all of their original draft picks and instead must make their 13 selections in the second round of the NFL draft later this month.
 
In what has to be one of the most well-considered penalties in league history, the NFL has pushed Patriots head coach and general manager Bill Belichick toward certain doom as he tries to rebuild New England from the loss of franchise cornerstone Tom Brady. If history has taught us nothing, it is that second-round draft picks are the Bermuda Triangle of the Patriots’ team-building strategy.
 
The NFL has shrewdly put New England in position to collect more than a dozen Cyrus Joneses or Jordan Richardses this spring. Imagine an entire draft class of Jones, Richards, Ras-I Dowling, Terrance Wheatley, Chad Jackson, Duke Dawson, Aaron Dobson, Tavon Wilson, Bethel Johnson, Ron Brace, and JoeJuan Williams, plus two more busts of that caliber. Though he didn’t say so in his Wednesday press release, that had to be exactly what Goodell was thinking when he devised this punishment.
 
To the extent that anyone was thinking the Patriots might trade their second-round picks to either move up into the first round or down into later rounds (where Belichick has been able to draft guys like Brady, Julian Edelman, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, Trey Flowers, Chase Winovich, James White and Asante Samuel), you can forget that. The punishment expressly forbids the trading of picks, locking the Patriots into the dreaded second round.
 
Therefore, there will be no punting of the 2020 NFL Draft. At all.
 
What did the Patriots do to earn such a surgically crafted punishment? Technically nothing. In December, a media crew comprised of people from Kraft Sports Productions, who were not employed by the Patriots, obtained a media credential to a Cleveland Browns game to interview a Patriots advance scout while he performed his job. During the game, the crew filmed innocuous “B-roll” footage of the sideline, giving them about 8 minutes of footage of the backs of Cincinnati players and staff. This violated the terms of their media credential.
 
Despite months of investigation, the league was unable to show any connection between the media crew and Patriots football operations. But of course, Bill Belichick is an arrogant super genius who can probably steal thoughts from minds like Kylo Ren does. So, just the idea that people from a Foxborough-based organization acquired tape of coaches backs with no signals whatsoever and no information that would allow a viewer to discern one play from another is terrifying and leads fans to question the legitimacy of New England’s 34-13 victory over the 2-14 Bengals a week later.
 
Draft experts, working from couches and chaise lounges across a paralyzed nation, have dutifully updated their mock drafts to account for the punishment. The general consensus is that the Patriots will now draft 8-12 overrated defensive backs and spend the remainder of their picks on receivers who shake out to WR3s at best.
 
When asked about the fact that Belichick had drafted Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jamie Collins, Shane Vereen, Eugene Wilson, Deion Branch and Matt Light in the second round, Goodell replied: “It’s OK to admit that Belichick makes mistakes. Why do you refuse criticize him?”
 
And of course, Goodell didn’t actually say that, because this “story,” while loaded with many certifiable elements of truth, is a seasonal lark and not real news. But you knew that before you even clicked. You checked the date, “Ah, you said, April 1. Nice try, Brown, but we’re onto your little game.”
 
Well played reader. Well played.
 
Dave Brown is a freelance correspondent who covers the Patriots for the Monitor. You can follow him on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown.

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