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Ask PFW: Back to the Draft

Posted Apr 29, 2014

With the draft a little more than a week away fans are clamoring for more and more information.

We have few opportunities to follow our team from here in France and you give us a lot of information. Reading all the mock drafts it seems that everybody sees Patriots taking a QB in the draft. It’s a point that I do not understand. We have a lot of needs, and eight picks will not be enough. So we cannot use one for a second-string QB. We have Ryan Mallett for again one year, that's it. It will be time to think to another QB next year, but please fill first DE, DT, TE, SS, RB, LB, C/G, WR. Next year’s draft will be as good for QB as this one. Your opinion?
Ludovic Boisseau

I know it sounds like a cliché at this point but I do believe the draft comes down to value and how the players available are ranked. First, you can’t expect to fill eight needs in a draft even if each of the spots you mentioned could all legitimately be considered needs. The further down you go the less likely those players will be able to fill significant roles for your team. So taking a linebacker in the sixth round as an example doesn’t necessarily fill that void. Therefore, if you think a quarterback who is available at that point is a better player, then you need to think about taking the more talented individual. In my opinion it’s always good practice to take and develop quarterbacks because they can always have value. Look at how people are talking about Mallett right now. He’s been on the team for three years and hasn’t taken a meaningful snap, yet many fans are hoping a team will trade for him and give the Patriots a draft pick. It might be time to start thinking about the future at the position and if Mallett leaves next year it would help to have his replacement already familiar with the system. It’s not a necessity by any means, but if a quarterback is available in the middle rounds and Belichick feels he’s worth developing I’d take a shot.
Paul Perillo

I saw where you had Zach Mettenberger as your No. 1 QB. Does he not remind you of Mallett without the college accolades? I always thought he underachieved a little with all the talent around him. I think A.J. McCarron is a perfect fit for the pats and it will be interesting to see if we go after a QB. Thanks for keeping us entertained!
Justin Smith

Mettenberger is tall and thin like Mallett but I feel he’s a far more polished passer than Mallett was/is. Both are pocket passers and both have strong arms, but watching Mettenberger I feel he’s more accurate. Obviously time will tell if he’s able to understand the intricacies of an NFL system. As far as your McCarron comparison, I’m not sure why Mettenberger gets points subtracted for the talent he plays with but McCarron doesn’t. Alabama is and has been the most talented team in the country. LSU is certainly talented too, and I agree with your concerns in that regard. But to say Mettenberger benefitted while not saying the same about McCarron is a bit curious. McCarron strikes me as a winner but in my view doesn’t possess the same skill set that Mettenberger does. I think both will get the chance to be starters in the league some day and it may very well come down to which guy finds a situation that best suits his game.
Paul Perillo

For the first three rounds, I think the Patriots should focus on TE, SS and DT. How about Jace Amaro, Deonne Bucannon and Will Sutton respectively?
Vikam Sokotai

I think all three spots are significant needs for the Patriots and certainly picking those players would make sense. Personally I would not take Amaro that high, nor would I take any tight end in the first round. I’d rather wait and pick up C.J. Fiedorowicz or Troy Niklas later. I also would add pass rusher to the list of early needs as well. One more thing to consider would be the potential for a trade down and the addition of a Day 2 pick. But in terms of three players you mentioned, I particularly like Bucannon and Sutton.
Paul Perillo

Has the roster been expanded? If so, what is the number of players and how many will be able to suit up. Also why do they suit up less than the entire roster? Is it possible that in each weekly you would let us fans know who makes up the practice squad? What happens if another team takes one of the Patriots off the practice squad? What are the obligations to the Patriots and the players?
Ted Candiloro
Attleboro, Mass.

First the rosters have not been expanded. As of now the limit remains at 53 for the active roster plus an eight-man practice squad. On game day teams are allowed to dress 46 players. The reason for this is to account for injuries. If teams were permitted to dress all 53, there would be times when healthy teams would enter a game with more players than those that are banged up. In other words, if the Patriots only had 46 healthy bodies and the Broncos had 53, Denver would have more players at their disposal for that particular game unless New England opted to remove the injured players from the roster and replace them. As for the practice squad, the first down section of Patriots Football Weekly is usually a good place to check on the practice squad. The Patriots make are constantly changing personnel on the practice squad and we chronicle those moves in first down each week. Perhaps we’ll add the practice squad to our roster page next year as well. If a member of a team’s practice squad is signed by another team, that team needs to keep the player on its active roster for at least three weeks. Otherwise there are no obligations to the teams involved.
Paul Perillo

First of all, why is it that every year is the "deepest draft we've seen in years"? What do you think about getting Xavier Su’a-Filo in the first, C.J. Fiedorowicz or Troy Niklas in the second and Dominic Easley in the third? I think Brandon Coleman or Aaron Murray will still be available in the fourth and should be considered as well. I think one of the two tight ends will fall to us especially if Green Bay picks C.J. Mosley in the first and Seattle goes wide receiver or corner in the first.
Logan Mullins

While I agree with your premise about experts believing drafts are always deep, that was not the case last year when most felt it was a particularly weak crop. This year, however, features the largest group of underclassmen (98) in the history of the draft, and that makes this class deeper than normal. As for your picks, I like Su’a-Filo, who said he patterns himself after Logan Mankins at the Combine, but not in the first round. I also like your two tight ends. Easley is a little undersized but he can definitely play. I don’t like Coleman or Murray all that much.
Paul Perillo

Are the Patriots getting tired of Rob Gronkowski? Could New England trade Gronk and its first-round pick to let’s say the Rams or Falcons for their first- and third- or fourth-round and move up and select TE from North Carolina Eric Ebron?
Marco Silveira

I don’t think the time to cut ties with Gronkowski has arrived. Obviously there’s a growing sense of frustration stemming from his injuries but Gronkowski has been incredibly productive when he’s been on the field. To walk away from that at this stage would be premature in my opinion. It’s not like Gronkowski is injuring himself during the offseason riding motorcycles or doing some other reckless act. He’s been hurt on the field as an unfortunate byproduct of his physical playing style. I also don’t like Ebron enough to draft him at 29 so there’s no way I’d trade up to the top of the draft to take him but that’s just me.
Paul Perillo

First off, do you see a blockbuster trade between the Texans and the Pats involving the Texans first pick and Ryan Mallett, along with other future or current draft picks? I was thinking of a scenario where the Pats may trade Mallett and other draft picks (current or future) for the Texans first pick of the draft.
Bob Mark

I don’t think there’s any chance the Patriots could get the first overall pick for Mallett unless they added their entire draft class along with it (or something pretty close to that). Mallett has little to no trade value at this point; that could change during the summer if he plays well in the preseason and some team loses a quarterback to injury. But until then I’m not sure what an untested, unproven backup has to offer. If he performs well this summer, then maybe there’s a chance the Patriots could move him assuming they have another potential backup on the roster.
Paul Perillo

Thanks for your report in the offseason because man I miss football! Since this draft is supposed to be pretty deep, is there a chance the Pats could move up in the draft at a cheaper cost? Or the depth of the draft does not change the value of the picks? Again, thanks and go Pats go!
Nathanael Savard

That’s an interesting counter to the conventional thought of the depth of the draft making it more likely for Belichick to move down. If there are more quality players than normal, the urgency to move up to get one would lessen, therefore your theory of the cost perhaps dropping would make sense. Of course it all depends on how many willing trade partners emerge come draft day, and which players are the object of a particular club’s affection. Overall it seems the value of trades varies from trade to trade rather than the depth of the draft.
Paul Perillo

Everybody talks of the need of a tight end for if Gronk gets injured again, but I feel a wide receiver is more pressing for when Gronk is both healthy and injured. We have seen Tom Brady over rely on Gronk when he is on the field, and our best three receivers (arguably) all operate between the hashes. No receiver other than Gronk has double digit touchdowns since Randy Moss in 2010, a big guy on the outside would be a great addition (not Brandon LaFell). I see far more merit in picking a tight end in the later rounds and using the top picks on impact positions. Is there any merit to this idea?
Alick Meere

I agree with your overall view but I don’t see how the Patriots do much about it at this point. I believe the team is in need of an upgrade at wide receiver but they re-signed Julian Edelman so he isn’t going anywhere. They signed LaFell so he’s not going anywhere. Danny Amendola signed a big deal last year so it would be highly unlikely that he’s going anywhere. Aaron Dobson was a second-round pick last year so he’s not going anywhere. Josh Boyce was a fourth-round pick and his job isn’t a certainty, but chances are he’ll be back too. That’s five WRs that are likely to be back. If the Patriots draft another one with a high pick it would be surprising, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are lacking options if Gronk goes down again. I’m just not sure there’s room to draft another one until some moves are made.
Paul Perillo

Do you think that Patriots may draft QB Zach Mettenberger in the third, injured guard Brandon Thomas in the fourth round, and no way they’d draft TE Colt Lyerla even if he slips way down?
Seth G.

I love Mettenberger, as I’ve already stated here and elsewhere. I don’t think he’ll be available in the third round but if he is I definitely think the Patriots would think about it. Thomas is the kind of player the Patriots have taken in the past, similar to Marcus Cannon and Brandon Tate -- injured players who were drafted later than they would have been if they were healthy. And I agree about Lyerla. I don’t see the Patriots taking a guy with that kind of past so soon after the Aaron Hernandez situation.
Paul Perillo

Since it’s likely that we will not be able to grab a top-tier tight end with our first two/three picks, why isn’t anyone talking about a trade to get a known commodity in Jordan Cameron?
Andrew Robb

For starters I don’t think Cleveland would trade such a productive young player. Cameron is coming off a terrific season in which he caught 80 passes for more than 900 yards in 15 games. He’s entering the final year of his contract and the Browns are working on an extension for their young tight end. Obviously if the talks don’t go well the Browns could shop him, but that would seem to be an unlikely scenario for a rebuilding team to deal one of it talented young players. I would never say never in this league but I don’t see Cleveland wanting to deal Cameron at this stage.
Paul Perillo

Heading into his 16th draft, Bill Belichick has a bit of a reputation for trading down. My question is, how many times has he actually traded down compared to trading up, particularly in the first round? With LeGarrette Blount heading to Pittsburgh, how do you see the running back stable heading into the draft?
Alex Marr

The only thing we can generally count on with Belichick come draft time is that he will trade. Whether he moves up or down isn’t as sure a bet as most think. Belichick has pulled off at least one draft-related trade each year he’s been in charge (in 2004 he acquired Corey Dillon for a second-round pick prior to the draft but made no deals during the draft). As far as the first round goes, the Patriots have traded up in 2002, 2003 and twice in 2012 and traded down in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Clearly Belichick moves down and adds picks more often than he moves up in the first round, but fans tend to forget about the latter when discussing his strategy.

As for running backs, I’d expect the Patriots to use a mid-round pick to add one to their stable. With Blount gone and Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen heading into the final year of their contracts the Patriots could use some depth at the spot. LSU’s Jeremy Hill is a guy I like but he may not be around when the Patriots would likely be in the RB market. Still there are several versatile backs who should be available late in Day 2 and throughout Day 3.
Paul Perillo


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