FOXBORO, Mass. -- Dick Steinberg, the New England Patriots' designated draft czar, thinks at least two teams in the AFC East have improved themselves considerably for the 1981 season through the NFL draft which ended Wednesday.
The Patriots, he said, were not one of them.
Steinberg, who ran the draft show at Schaefer Stadium Tuesday and Wednesday, labeled the Patriots' draft as a '7' on a scale of 1-to-10. New England failed to get a blue chip defensive lineman but did upgrade their team at several positions, most noticeably on the offensive line.
'Miami helped themselves the most if you count (linebacker Bob) Brudzinski as a draft choice,' Steinberg said. 'Baltimore's first two picks will really help. Other than that, the Jets didn't get much beyond the first two picks and New England and Buffalo upgraded their teams.'
Was it a good draft, but not a great one?, he was asked.
'Yes,' he said.
The Patriots spent the second day doing what most teams do -- picking players who can add some backup support. They chose a punter for the third straight year -- Ken Naber of Stanford -- who promises to give Mike Hubach a battle for his job.
Their other Wednesday picks were wide receiver Ken Toler of Mississippi, tight end Lin Dawson of North Carolina State, quarterback Brian Buckley of Harvard, and Cris Crissy of Princeton, a receiver-slotback projected as a safety.
'Every player we drafted should play in the NFL, but not necessarily with the Patriots,' Steinberg said. 'The thing that really hurt us was not having a third-round choice. We filled a glaring need in the offensive line, added a running back and depth in special teams, and we strengthened our linebacking and defensive-line corps even though we didn't get a good pass-rusher.'
The two picks from Stanford (Naber and first-rounder Brian Holloway) plus two Ivy Leaguers led many to suggest that what the Patriots lacked in ability they gained in intelligence. Coach Ron Erhardt said that he thought the team he takes to camp this summer will be better than last year's -- if all the un-signed players (Horace Ivory, Rod Shoate, Don Hasselbeck are the biggies) have come to terms.
'We're going to upgrade our 45-man roster anywhere from four to six players,' Erhardt said. 'We've got a pretty good football team. Remember it's not 1974, when we were rebuilding. A lot of teams at the bottom (of the draft order) didn't get that one impact player who can step right in and make a difference.'
When asked about the team's prospects, Erhardt cracked, 'Anything over .500 is a super job of coaching.'