Patriots Mailbag: Dominique Easley Is Bill Belichick’s Biggest First-Round Bust

There was some blowback from New England diehards when I labeled Dominique Easley as Bill Belichick’s biggest Patriots first-round draft bust.

There were some who didn’t fully read my tweet and thought I said biggest draft bust, not first-round bust, and answered with the likes of Ras-I Dowling and Chad Jackson. That would be fair. They were bigger busts, but they were drafted in the second round.

The competition with Easley as first-round busts are Laurence Maroney and Brandon Meriweather. And while neither player proved worthy of a first-round pick, they also made it past Year 2 with the Patriots. That the Patriots were willing to take a cap hit to release Easley shows it wasn’t only injuries that forced the shocking divorce.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag.

@DougKyed Is there any reason I shouldn’t be frustrated with Easley’s release? Just seems like a terrible move all around.
— @tony_yassa95
I think there’s more reason for Patriots fans to be frustrated with the pick than with the release. Based on reports, it seems the Patriots should have known he wasn’t going to be a great fit for the locker room.

Picking Easley in the first round already was a big risk because of his torn ACLs in college. While taking that risk, a player should otherwise be a perfect fit for the team, or it isn’t worth the added uncertainty.

There’s also the issue that Easley was only an ideal fit as a third-down interior rusher for the Patriots, and that’s not typically what a team selects in the first round. A first-round pick should be a near-every-down player, not a part-timer.

As for the release, it’s telling that no other team claimed Easley off waivers. I believe the Patriots tried to shop him before cutting him, and clearly no one was even interested in acquiring him for no compensation through waivers.

@DougKyed To what extent did NE beat reporters suspect Pats were unhappy w/Easley from the jump? Or ever? Was it as big a surprise as2 fans?
— @Grendel_the_Dog
I knew his personality was a little different than most Patriots players, but the release still completely caught me off guard. I didn’t think he was a guarantee to make the 2016 roster, however. I just didn’t expect the cut to come before training camp.

@DougKyed with Blount signing do the Pats still take a RB early in the draft?
— @jack_roos86
They should. They lack a player with high upside in the “big back” role. I think it’s a mistake if they keep ignoring the position and try to get by with veterans.

@DougKyed do you answer non-pats draft questions? If so, Wentz or Goff at 1 if you’re the Rams?
— @patsfan120
I guess Wentz, though I think it’s a bit of a risk to take an FCS quarterback who started seven games in 2015 with the first overall pick. It’s also a bit of a red flag that he didn’t even start in his first two seasons at North Dakota State. He certainly has upside, though.

Goff comes with a higher pedigree, but I’m having a hard time forgetting his game against Utah, when he threw five interceptions.

The Rams were desperate for a quarterback, and they’re ready to compete now, so I understand why they did the trade. I’m just not sure either one of those quarterbacks was worth the haul needed to trade up.

@DougKyed Sup?
— @June__NYC
Watching NJPW Invasion Attack, writing a mailbag.

@DougKyed do you have a favorite story or article you wrote in your career? Maybe one that’s stuck with you a bit more than the others.
— @Keltenkoehler
Probably my story about Julian Edelman and Tom Brady training last offseason in Montana.

@DougKyed Are the Pats going back to a 3-4 front after releasing Easley? They need to draft a linebacker if thats the case imo.
— @TimDan90
I would guess they’ll stay in a 4-3, but it’s possible they move to a 3-4.

Here’s how both alignments would look in the base defense:

4-3: DE Rob Ninkovich, DE Jabaal Sheard, DT Malcom Brown, DT Alan Branch/Terrance Knighton, LB Jamie Collins, LB Dont’a Hightower, LB Shea McClellin

3-4: DL Malcom Brown, DL Terrance Knighton, DL Alan Branch, OLB Rob Ninkovich, OLB Jabaal Sheard, ILB Dont’a Hightower, ILB Jamie Collins

There are a few issues with the 3-4:

— The Patriots don’t have an ideal five-technique defensive end other than Branch. Sheard and Ninkovich are too small, and Brown and Knighton aren’t long enough.

— Sheard and Ninkovich both would be better suited as weak-side OLBs in a 3-4, and you’d rather have either one of those players in the base defense over Shea McClellin. Chris Long also isn’t an ideal fit for a 3-4, because he’s stuck between a five-technique defensive end and outside linebacker.

@DougKyed favorite full house character?
— @DANNYTAGE
The Beach Boys.

I watched “Fuller House,” by the way. It was OK. C+.

@DougKyed what do you see the patriots finishing the season at? With a relatively tough schedule and qb questions is 13-3 too generous?
— @tearsnwaterfall
I’ll go chalk with 12-4.

@DougKyed Will the patriots draft a wideout in the 2nd round
— @Teen_Titans23
I know there’s a certain faction of the Patriots’ fanbase that will freak out if they do.

It’s possible. The Patriots’ biggest draft needs are offensive tackle, running back, defensive tackle, cornerback and wide receiver in some order.

@DougKyed Will the Thursday night game against Houston feature color rush jerseys? If so, any guess as to what the Pats one might look like?
— @brentustick
I hope so. And if last year is any indication, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll look like crap.

The Texans could either wear all red or all blue color rush jerseys. I would guess they’ll go with all red.

That leaves either navy or silver for the Patriots. I’ll bet they go with silver, which will basically just look like kind of dirty white uniforms.

@DougKyed Does the Easley release change the Draft strategy and the requirement for defensive line depth?
— @JimGilhooly1957
I think they should draft another defensive lineman in the first three rounds, but it’s not absolutely required. The Patriots can get by with Brown, Branch, Knighton, Markus Kuhn, Chris Jones, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Frank Kearse and Joe Vellano. They would be better with some added depth and competition, but that’s a pretty solid group.

@DougKyed What way should WWE go with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson?
— @AirLarsen
Selfishly, I hope they keep teasing the Balor Club until after April 22 by having Gallows and Anderson attacking other teams, because I want Finn Balor to be at NXT in Lowell, Mass., and Kingston, R.I., because I’ll be there, and I want to see him.

Eventually, Finn should debut, and the Balor Club should be an nWo-esque stable.

@DougKyed New Day or Bullet Club?
— @JMetal_PhD
The New Day.

Why?

New. Day. Rocks.

New. Day. Rocks.

New. Day. Rocks.

New. Day. Rocks.

@DougKyed is Roman Reigns a good guy, a bad guy, or the guy?
— @bobbyg_81
He’s a guy.

I like that WWE is finally embracing Reigns as a tweener, but I wish they had done so before he headlined WrestleMania against who should be the biggest heel in the company. That’s WWE’s bad.

Thumbnail photo via Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY Sports Images

Filed under: Doug Kyed, New England Patriots, Top Stories

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