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Sports

April 25, 2008

Pats need impact player at No. 7

On Pro Football

Hector Longo

FOXBORO — What kind of New England Patriots fan are you?

Do you or yours wear the "Lady Brady," football's version of the pink hat?

Answer affirmative to that, and this weekend is just another welcomed invitation to spring. You're immersed in the glow of that Opening Day rendition of "Sweet Caroline." Football remains eons away. Enjoy Jacoby Ellsbury and the repeated beatings inflicted on the Baltimore Orioles. See you in September.

True die-hard football fans struggle with insomnia this week. You can't get to bed without one last Google for the latest mock draft update.

The Pats own the seventh pick late tomorrow afternoon when this weekend's NFL Draft commences. The draft is the first major step to rehabilitating that pit in your stomach left from that ugliest of ugly first Sunday in February loss to the Giants.

Bill Belichick and Co. held serve through the early free-agent signing period. Only the expected loss of Asante Samuel affects their status atop the AFC.

The Patriots could draft the second coming of Trevor Matich with that pick tomorrow, and they'd still be the team to beat in the NFL. But this draft matters, and true Pats fans know it.

Belichick's roster, the envy of 31 other pro franchises, enters this draft in a critical state — not for this year, or even 2009, but for the future of this dynasty.

Tom Brady aside, New England's star power is waning.

Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel, Randy Moss ... the Patriots stars, their true impact performers, are old and running out of snaps.

Brady is, was and will be a superstar, currently in his prime with at least five more years to reap the benefits of greatness. He is alone in that stature, among the young.

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