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Ask PFW: Crawling toward the draft

Posted Apr 15, 2014

With things pushed back to May, Patriots fans have a few extra weeks to break down what they think New England should do in this year’s NFL Draft.

Focusing on next month’s draft, how many additional picks do you think we can acquire if we trade out of the 29th spot? Also what TEs & LBs do you think will be available and of most value in later rounds?
Jeremy Roberts

Using the well-circulated draft trade value chart, the 29th pick is worth 640 points. If New England simply traded down in this year’s draft, the return would potentially be in that range. For example, say the 42nd pick is worth 480 points and the rest of the deal with maybe a fourth-round pick would total in the range of 160 points (the actual value of the 86th overall pick) via some combination of picks. Now, the Patriots could also trade into next year. For example the team traded the 28th pick in the first round in 2011 for the Saints first rounder in 2012 as well as a second-round pick in 2011, No. 56 overall. While the trade value chart is a gauge to go by, the specific nature of each draft, as well as the players available when a pick is coming up, can very much play into the trade value of that pick. If one of the so-called marquee quarterbacks is on the board at No. 29 that might help the Patriots maximize a trade at that point. I really like some of the tight ends that should be around later in the draft. My favorite, given a personal bias, is Georgia’s Arthur Lynch. He’s a true all-around tight end with the ability to block and catch. He’s also a fellow grad of Dartmouth (Mass.) High School. I also think that Cal’s Richard Rodgers is interesting. He’s another Massachusetts native who worked as both a blocker and pass catcher in his time on the left coast. Utah’s Jake Murphy, son of former Brave’s star Dale Murphy, is a bit older but another well-rounded depth option at the position. I’m actually finishing up my work on the linebackers today, so check back on the PFW blog for my breakdown of some of the options at that position.
Andy Hart

Do you think that the Patriots should draft a defensive end or try and get someone in free agency. And who should they be looking for in the further rounds.
Aron Moore

I was very strong on the idea that the Patriots should have gone after a higher-level free agent defensive end. But that never seemed to materialize and the options have dried up. While reports have indicated the team is still likely to sign Will Smith, I’m not sure he’s a lock to be a major contributor coming off a season missed to a torn ACL. So, even if they sign Smith and think that Michael Buchanan is set for a big Year 2 Jump, I still believe they need to address the end spot in one of the first few picks come May. While I think the Patriots need to look at tight end, safety and pass rush early in the draft, they also could very well be in the market at some point for a backup quarterback, guard, defensive tackle or almost any other spot on the roster. For a team that’s been to three straight AFC title games and had a very young roster last fall, New England could very easily be in consideration to draft a player at almost any position.
Andy Hart

The Patriots have an influx of corners with Revis, Browner, Dennard, Ryan and Arrington. I wanted to know you're opinion: with a lack of quality safety options out there and currently on the roster, what about taking Arrington (awful corner but has good football IQ and can hit hard) and putting him at SS? I think it's worth a shot since he's highly overpaid at $4 million per year and 5th on the CB depth chart. I wish I could send this idea to Belichick directly! Thanks for the insight.
David Sarro

Do you see an Arrington re-structure coming soon? He is making a significant cap hit while being 5th on the depth chart at corner. While he can still play in sub packages, I don't see that as enough to make his contract worth it.
Vince Parrella

Arrington is and seemingly always will be a lightning rod for criticism among fans. Part of that is his contract and part of that comes with his occasional struggles, especially on the outside. But I’m not sure the team sees him as the fifth corner at this point. Remember, Browner will miss the first four games to suspension. Ryan is entering his second year and some reports have indicated he may actually be considered for some time at the safety position. I wouldn’t be stunned to find that the coaches still see Arrington as a No. 3 corner, and top guy in the slot. Plus, at 5-10, 190 pounds I don’t see him as a good fit as a strong safety type. (Nor is Ryan, at 5-11, 195.) He’s got a decent build and strength, but he’s not a true fit for that job. So you might be going from one poor fit in Steve Gregory to another in Arrington. I also questioned Arrington’s contract when he re-signed, but he was paid to be a borderline starter, playing in the slot in sub packages. If he isn’t penciled into that role anymore, then he may find himself in a battle for a roster spot and his pay.
Andy Hart

Hey huge fan! Love what you guys do, makes the offseason a lot better. Question is: with pass rush still being a big need to complete this defense, what are the odds BB takes a LB in the first like C.J. Mosley who’s good in coverage and move either Hightower or Collins down to DE in passing situations? Both had work as pass rushers in college, maybe give them more opportunities as a pure DE?
Dylan Henderson

I won’t disregard drafting a linebacker, because right now the depth chart includes three starters and not much depth. Even with that, Jerod Mayo is coming off an injury and Collins remains unproven over a full season. But I wouldn’t be looking for an inside linebacker like Mosley and I stand pat in my belief that few if any inside linebackers are really coverage linebackers. It’s just a difficult job than nearly no one is suited to in the NFL. I also haven’t really seen anything that leads me to believe that Hightower needs more chances on the outside. I think he will fall in nicely to his middle linebacker job in the wake of Brandon Spikes’ departure. Collins is indeed an intriguing athlete who I’d like to see more of as a pass rusher, but he’ll get those chances either way this season. I’d be looking for more of a true defensive end who could give Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones a breather on almost any down, not purely a situational addition to the defense.
Andy Hart

If coach BB stays with Patriots for another 4-5 years, at the current winning pace he will move into 3rd spot on the NFL coaches all-time list and also assure himself Hall of Fame. Can this logic give any indication how long he may stay on till retirement?
Stan C.

Short answer? No. Belichick is already a lock to make the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. He’s already considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game. While it’s true that he has a lot of respect for the history of the game, I don’t think that can necessarily be used to infer that he’ll stick around for statistical reasons or his own place in the record books. He has said he likes what he’s doing and can’t see himself doing anything else at this point. When that changes, he will probably walk away. When that is, I don’t know. I’m not sure he knows at this point, either.
Andy Hart

Why the Patriot fascination with Rutgers? Last year we drafted 3 players from the school of the 7 drafted. Also do you think the Patriots will draft a backup QB in the 2nd or 3rd round?
Steven Robert Heine

Belichick has always had a lot of respect for former Rutgers (and Bucs) coach Greg Schiano and the program he put in place in New Jersey. Belichick’s son played lacrosse at Rutgers and later walked on with the football team. Belichick has talked about how prepared and pro-ready Rutgers players were. I think that played a lot into the influx of Rutgers players. Belichick also clearly had a good working relationship with Schiano, who was notoriously hard on scouts looking at his players, and therefore the Patriots probably had a better information pipeline with the school than with some others. Yes, I do think the Patriots will take a quarterback in the middle of the draft. It’s quite likely that Ryan Mallett is playing out the final year of his career in New England as he plays out the final year of his rookie contract. Therefore, at the very least, the Patriots will need a new backup quarterback in 2015. Taking one now would allow him to develop in the background for a year, maybe even on PUP/IR, before taking over the No. 2 job. I would love to see LSU’s Zach Mettenberger in that role. But that seems less likely by the day as the big passer rises up the draft boards.
Andy Hart

My question is about the first-round hype. With everybody saying we need DT, DE/LB hybrid and TE, I'm thinking that all those need to be address in this draft, but I'm wanting to know, if you think getting a "downhill hard hitting safety" would be more beneficial to where this defense seems to be going with the signing of Revis and Browner? Considering we’re one hard hitting safety from truly being a great secondary I'm really hoping so cause I think a lot of people fail to realize that when they’re worrying about are pass rush so much. Having a great secondary will vastly improve our pass rush. Do you know who in the draft fits that type of safety that we could get? Thanks!
Robert Snell

My list of Patriots top needs includes tight end, safety and pass rusher. I think you could argue that the team needs a starting-caliber player at each of the first two and a significant rotational option at the third. With the potential upgrade at cornerback, you are correct in the idea that the safety spot next to Devin McCourty remains the biggest hole in the New England pass defense. And certainly improved pass coverage can give the pass rush a boost, although that doesn’t necessarily remove the need for a guy to rotate through and give Jones/Ninkovich a breather. Some names at safety that I would keep an eye on, guys who sort of fill the bill in terms of a stronger safety type, would include Calvin Pryor, Deone Bucannon, Dion Bailey, Ahmad Dixon and Craig Loston. I really like Bucannon’s mix of size, speed and playing style as a possible second-round selection. But any of those names would certainly have a chance, to varying degrees, to upgrade the position for New England.
Andy Hart

You do a fantastic job and it’s always a pleasure to read you from France. Looking back to games lost last year season, it’s obvious that when TB got time we won games. So I do not understand why OL is not much more important in mock drafts we can see on different internet sites. Our line is weak, two guys are undersized at the minimum and Brady blindside is not enough solid.
Ludovic Boisseau

I agree that the offensive line didn’t have a great year in 2013. I also agree that giving Brady time -- along with giving him a healthy Rob Gronkowski on the field -- is key to success on the New England offense. But the offensive line is pretty well set at three spots, including two that protect his blindside. Nate Solder is a first-round pick and thought of very highly by the coaching staff. Logan Mankins is a Pro Bowl guard who is in the middle of a $50 million contract. On the right side, Sebastian Vollmer is a second-team All-Pro when healthy. Sure, an argument could be made for an upgrade at either center or right guard. But I’m not sure the line is the major problem area that you think it is, or near the top of the draft-day list of needs.
Andy Hart

Since Revis was sign to basically a one-year contract. Could the Pats have re- signed Talib with a deal similar to what the Broncos offered and have them both for 2014?
Vinny Herrera

Yes, that is certainly possible under the cap although it would have taken some maneuvering and concessions elsewhere. But very few things are impossible if a team wants to make a move, or series of moves, badly enough. Unlikely, but possible.
Andy Hart

Hey, I have been watching a lot of players in this draft, and seeing which guy would be a good fit for the Patriots. I think that we don't have an explosive, great WR. Last year Brady and his WRs were off on timing and routes, plus jump ball situations were not a great option. With Gronk going to be out, and who knows when and if he gets back, and even if he gets back to his full self, I think a tall, fast WR like Mike Evans would be a great fit. Brady isn't getting younger and we need a SB win. I am sick of losing late in the season. (SB and AFC games) What are the chances of them trading up for a guy like Evans?
Sean Bettencourt

Evans is a very highly regarded prospect in this draft. I think he could end up as the best wide receiver in this draft and I think he’s a safer high pick than even Sammy Watkins given his size. He’s likely to be a top-15 pick, maybe even a top-10 selection. I just don’t really see a way that Belichick would trade up that high, giving up that much to get there, for a wide receiver a year after taking Aaron Dobson in the second round. I like Evans. Belichick may like Evans. Probably just not enough to trade up as many as 20-ish spots to get him. Very, very unlikely.
Andy Hart

Hi from France! Do you see BB drafting a QB this year? This class seems quite deep and though I don't trust at all Manziel or Bridgewater landing after that tourism visit, I’d really like the Pats to draft a guy like Derek Carr (could be difficult as he's projected high) or Jimmy Garoppolo, who seems to be available in the late 1st mid 2nd. The Garoppolo man has everything in terms of throwing mechanics and could develop well under Brady’s final years. This year's deep class could be the occasion to draft a quality replacement for Brady cause our usual draft rank don't allow us to get a shot at good quality at the position (let alone the 6 rounder who won 3 rings).
William Lefevre

As I said earlier, I do think the Patriots could and probably should draft a quarterback this year. That guy would be the answer as a backup in 2015, after Mallett leaves, and beyond that maybe could be the guy to develop as Brady’s replacement. But I don’t like either Carr or Garoppolo. Both are a little shorter than ideal at 6-2. Carr took too many throws out of the shotgun for my liking and seems to struggle under pressure. (Which could be a family trait!) I thought Garoppolo made a lot of quick, easy throws in college and I have questions about his progressions and reads at the next level. My pick would be Mettenberger, who I think has all the tools to be great and could end up being the best overall quarterback in this year’s class when it’s all said and done. Looking later in the draft, I’m also very intrigued by Jeff Matthews out of Cornell, though he’s obviously making a big jump in competition.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, how's it going? Just wondering if you feel the Pats have done enough in FA to finally get over the hump. I love the additions of Revis, Browner and LaFell, but feel that they missed on some other key free agents. I realize there is a cap and they can't sign everyone, but why did they wait to release guys and work on extensions? Still need someone to help Jones and Nink rush the QB, Safety, LB depth, etc. Now it's just value picks. I think this will eventually show up in playoffs against Denver. Thoughts? Thanks.
Steven MacClintock

Yes, the Patriots clearly still have holes to fill and positions to strengthen. But they clearly improved in the back end this spring by adding the best cornerback in the game to shut down opponents’ top target each week. We all know how much better Talib made the defense when healthy, well Revis is better and more durable. That’s huge. That said, the “arms race” with the Broncos remains quite competitive. Given the way Denver dismissed New England last January, I’m not sure New England has done quite enough to close the gap at this point. I think the Patriots have gotten better and the Broncos may have actually taken a minor step back overall. I’d still give Manning’s troops the slight edge, but if that game were to be played in the playoffs in Foxborough it would be a huge swing. But that’s no lock to happen with Manning’s history of regular season success over his career, even with his team facing tough tests like the 49ers and at the Seahawks and Bengals.
Andy Hart

Hey, just wondering with Brandon Spikes recent Twitter comments if there was plans to give exchanges for fans who have his jersey? I was excited when they drafted him and was even gonna still wear his jersey even though they didn't resign him but after today...not quite sure what to do.
Phil Law

I am not aware of any plans to do anything in regards to fans with Spikes’ old Patriots jersey. I don’t really think anything should be done. He got fans worked up on Twitter with some pretty questionable comments and certainly burned his bridges if any were left to Foxborough. But he didn’t exactly do anything illegal. Given his history even in New England, you just have to ring it up as Spikes being Spikes.
Andy Hart

Two questions -- 1. How do you see the Patriots WR corps shaking out, as in who will be the starters or seen an abundance of playing time. 2. With Gronk being out do you think we will see more 3-4 wide sets like in 2007?
Paul Carrell

Second question first, I do think we will see a lot of three and four receiver looks in 2014, especially if/when Gronkowski isn’t available. There are a lot of returning bodies in the mix at that position and the addition of LaFell. You’d have to say that Julian Edelman is the top target coming off a 100-catch season. Next, assuming he comes back from offseason foot surgery, I think that Aaron Dobson could be in line as the No. 2 guy and a bigger part of the offense on the outside. Then I think that Danny Amendola will be in the regular mix. I still have my doubts as to what roles LaFell and Josh Boyce will fill out, while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kenbrell Thompkins in a fight for a roster spot. And this doesn’t even really take into account the possibility to adding another pass catcher in May’s upcoming draft. In the end, though, if Edelman and Dobson are not two of the more productive wide receivers for Brady this fall then I think there may be problems with the passing attack overall.
Andy Hart

Hello from Ft Valley, GA I want to get straight to the point. Would it be possible that the Pats bring back Adrian Wilson to train with the linebackers? He would still have his presence felt closer to the line of scrimmage and help with stopping the run.
Marquis Collins

That’s possible, but very unlikely. Wilson was seemingly coming to the end physically last summer and given his torn Achilles is even a step closer to being non-competitive at the end of his career. He may catch on elsewhere, but I’m not even sure of that at this point. He had a great career and may be a borderline Hall of Famer, but it’s pretty close to over at this point.
Andy Hart

Hey guys I have a question. The Patriots have been to the AFC Championship 3 times and only been to the Super Bowl once and lost. I strongly believe if Brady gets one more Super Bowl ring he will be the best QB in NFL history over Montana. With the upgraded signings of Revis, Lafell, Browner, re-signings of Wilfork and Edelman, and key players like Mayo, Gronkowski, and Dobson back from injury, are the Patriots winning the Super Bowl this year?
Dylan Damewood

Yes. Hey, if you can’t be optimistic at this point in the offseason, then when can you. Be positive. Arizona here we come!
Andy Hart

Why can't Calvin Johnson leave Detroit and sign with the Pats and then Calvin can break all major season receiving records? Another Randy Moss if you will.
Jason Isdell

This came in eight days after April Fool’s, so I’ll assume it’s a real question and answer it as such. Johnson is under a very lucrative contract with the Lions.
Andy Hart

Hi guys. What do you guys think of trading down? I feel that it's time to get first-round talent in New England. Who would you rather have, Eric Ebron or Jace Amaro?
Vikram Sakotai

I don’t hate the idea of trading down in this specific draft. It’s supposedly a pretty deep, talented class overall. It wouldn’t be terrible to have extra picks in the second or third rounds. I could easily fill out a few picks in those rounds at spots like safety and tight end. But if you made me pick one of the two tight ends you specified, I’d probably go with Amaro. Ebron is a freak athlete and elite tease, but I just don’t feel confident he’s going to pan out as a consistent force in the NFL. If he fell to 29, I’d have to consider it. But really, I’d feel better drafting a guy with Amaro’s production and skill set rather than Ebron’s freak physical tools.
Andy Hart

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