The Patriots spent all but one of their picks in the 2008 draft on defenders, but how long before this influx of youth brings young starters to an old D. Here's a breakdown of the Patriots starters last season and how long it took them to become starters.
06/07 no defensive starters, Meriweather (round 1) the only defender from those drafts on the roster.
Ellis Hobbs (3rd round), full time starter in his 3rd season, Games started by year- 8,9,16
James Sanders (4th), starter 3rd year, GS-2,5,15
Vince Wilfork (1st), starter 2nd year, GS-6,16,13,16
Ty Warren (1st), starter 2nd year, GS-4,16,16,15,16
Eugene Wilson (2nd) starter 1st year (lost starting job in 2007), GS-15,14,16,4,6
Asante Samuel (4th) starter 3rd year, GS-1,8,15,15,14
Jarvis Green (4th), 6th season, GS-4,7,1,5,4,10
Richard Seynore (top 10), 1st season, GS-10,16......
No defenders currently on roster drafted
Tedy Bruschi, 4th season, GS-0,1,7,14,16....
Picks by other teams
Rosevelt Colvin signed by Patriots after 4th season in the league. Became a Pats starter in 3rd year on team/7th in league.
Mike Vrabel signed after 4th season. Started in 1st season with Patriots/5th in league
The only current defenders to start for the Patriots as rookies were a 6th overall pick and a safety who later lost his starting job. None of the current LBs were starters before their 4th year in the league and Colvin needed two years of experience in the Pats system in addition to 4 with the Bears before he became a starter. D-linemen find there way into the lineup the fastest with Seymore starting as a rookie and Vilfork and Warren starting in their second year. 3 of the 4 starting DBs drafted by the Pats started in their 3rd season. LBs took the longest with none of the starters seeing the majority of starting time before they had been in the league for 3 or more years.
The Patriots' future on D might have been improved, but it will like take 3-4 years before this draft has any real effect to make the Pats D younger. Mayo is a fantastic player, but the demands of Belichick's defense will likely keep him on the bench for one, two or maybe up to three years. Wheatley might be able to work his way onto the field in a secondary depleted by free agency, but he'll likely follow the path of Hobbs and Samuel before him and spend 2 years learning before he's ready. Crable is an even surer bet to take years to be ready to play LB since early round picks made their way into the Pats lineup faster (really?, who'd have guessed that). The Pats have found DBs in the 4th round so Wilhite may contribute eventually. After the fourth round the majority of Pats draft picks especially on defense are cut and disappear off the map or spend their careers on the bench.