The New England Patriots next offseason step will be training camp next month. But, per usual, the hype train is in high gear as Patriots rookies are being ticketed to the Hall-of-Fame before ever playing a snap in anger.
OK, that’s an exaggeration, but the hype train is in full throttle for certain on a couple of rookies. One is third-round draft pick, Marte Mapu, a hybrid safety/linebacker from Sacramento State.
Hyper excitement about rookies is the norm for Boston sports fans and sometimes media folks in pre-season. They’re all great and exceeding expectations. In Mapu’s case, those expectations are in orbit.
Why the hype and why are these expectations to be tempered? Let’s take a look.
New England Patriots rookies are all always All-Pro ready
Hope springs eternal for all New England Patriots draft picks and most are dashed against the rocks on the Rockport jetty. But when you hear really qualified pundits like Greg Bedard absolutely gushing about a rookie like Mapu, it takes the genre to a whole new level.
According to Bedard, Mapu is the next best thing since sliced bread (author’s words). And all this before the pads have even come on in any meaningful practice, never mind a game.
Here’s a quote from Bedard thanks to CLNS media:
"“Marte Mapu, extremely impressed with him,” Bedard said after Monday’s minicamp practice. “You could tell that he is extremely smart. That is part of the reason why they’re giving him so much to do.”"
Now Bedard may very well be right. Mapu may indeed be the next Troy Polamalu. Hope he is and more power to the New England Patriots lackluster personnel operation, the team, and the fans if he is. But just hold your horses on this.
As noted, he hasn’t played a down yet in anger, and coming from Sacramento State isn’t exactly a top-flight recommendation.
Patriots’ Marte Mapu is a work in progress like all rookies
New England Patriots Marte Mapu gained some nice kudos at the Senior Bowl where he was added as a late addition.
Sport.yahoo.com cited Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy saying this:
"“And now that the draft is already over, I’ll say I was standing on the field with (Steelers coach) Mike Tomlin during one of the 9-on-7 periods, and I’ve posted this clip online, Mapu came down and just buckled this fullback behind the line of scrimmage,” Nagy told the Boston Herald’s Andrew Callahan, via the Hartford Courant. “And Mike looks at me with wide eyes, and we look at each other like that, holy (expletive) look. And he was like, ‘This boy’s making some money right now.’ So he definitely stood out.”"
That’s nice to see but it doesn’t alter the fact that at least one respected draft publication had the player as a seventh-round pick or so. In addition, he’s coming off a torn pectoral muscle.
So let’s get this straight. a team that desperately needs offensive tackles, aka the New England Patriots, uses a premium draft pick, a third-rounder, on an injured player from a small school at a position at which they are relatively sound. Brilliant.
Hopefully, Mapu is as they positively ebullient Patriots beat writers surmise. But don’t bet on it. Not even a down has been played with pads on.
The suggestion here is this, keep your cool and wait until he not only excels in summer camp when the big boys play for real, and in the preseason games before going all giddy about this rookie. It may be good copy, but it ain’t realistic.