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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Apr 09 - 12:00 AM | Sun Apr 11 - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Cornering the market

Hi from Romania, the other country of Zoltan Mesko. My question is, what is your opinion about New England taking Morris Claiborne from Dallas and Mark Barron from Rams? Is there any chance for that to happen? Thanks for all the news. I read all your articles. Best regards from Romania!

Onea Marian

Thanks for writing in and for those nice words … now for the bad news. I'm not sure these two disappointing players would do much to help the Patriots secondary even if they were available, which as of now is not the case anyway. Dallas has said repeatedly that it plans to hold onto Claiborne despite deciding not to pick up his fifth-year option. Claiborne is dealing with many injuries and dropped a lot of weight during the offseason as a result of surgeries to his knees. So, like I said, even if Claiborne becomes available I'm not sure how much help he'd provide. Barron is a different case. He's just been a disappointment and is already on his second team. Perhaps getting into Bill Belichick's system would revitalize him a bit, but I don't see him as much of an upgrade based on his career thus far.

Paul Perillo

I took a look at the roster for the first time today, and noticed two rookies, Brandon King (whom I remember from college as unspectacular but solid) and Jimmy Jean. The reason I noticed them was they both have the frame to serve a Brandon Browner-type role this year, as well as veteran Derek Cox. I know it's hard to get a beat on the secondary this year (especially before training camp) but have you gotten any scouting on these players yet?

Phillip Norris

First, Jean is really the only one of those three with a body type similar to Brandon Browner. Browner is 6-4 and Jean is 6-3, and both are lean and lanky in terms of their physique. King is smaller at 6-2 and is listed as a safety while Cox is even smaller at 6-1. Jean and King are undrafted rookies so it's hard to make projections as to how they might operate in the NFL, and even if they'll be able to. We'll be watching all of the newcomers at training camp to see how they might fit in. As for Cox, he's looking to rebound from some down times in his career. He was cut by San Diego two years ago just one year into a free agent contract. Then he was out of football all of last year. Rather than asking him to replicate the physicality of Browner, he's probably better off trying to save his career at this point.

Paul Perillo

Greetings and salutations. Am I out of my dome or can I get you to be the first to agree with me? I think the Pats defense is going to be fine. I just don't know when in the Bill Belichick era we failed to compete, even with a lackluster defensive back crew. He has a natural ability to get the most out of every position and I don't see that changing. We might end up with the 12th ranked D. Am I as nuts as everyone is saying?

Don Blakenborough

I'm not ready to say you're nuts because I'm not really sure of what you're asking. If you're saying the Patriots will find a way to compete and win games then I agree with you. If you're saying the defense is going to be fine then I don't. The reason I make that distinction is based on history. Back in 2010-12, the Patriots won a lot of games, made it to the Super Bowl in 2011, but I wouldn't consider the defenses on those teams to be fine. Those units struggled throughout the season finishing at or near the bottom in many categories like third down, passing yards and defensive passer rating. But with Belichick coaching, as you said, and Tom Brady at quarterback the team was still able to win more than its share of games and I expect that to be the case again this year. I just don't think the defense will anywhere near as good as it was last year given all of the personnel losses the team suffered on that side of the ball. It will be good enough to win some games because the offense figures to be prolific, and because Belichick will indeed patch it together like he always does.

Paul Perillo

I want the PFW Inside Scoop! I sincerely hope you have seen enough based upon what you have witnessed so far concerning seventh-round draft pick cornerback Darryl Roberts. Can he play in the NFL? I have heard some positive feedback so far that this kid can play and that he has a combination of the same skills of former Patriot Asante Samuel and current Patriot Devin McCourty. I need to hear that from PFW if you agree or disagree. I seriously hope that the Patriots have found a diamond in the rough in this kid.

Emory Addison

I'm sorry to disappoint you but for me to make such a declaration about a player I've yet to see in pads would be grossly negligent on my part. We got to watch five workouts with the players in shorts and T-shirts. There's no way anyone could determine definitively that Roberts, or any other rookie, is set to play in the NFL based on drills and other non-contact work that is designed to teach the players the system. There's no competition in the spring and therefore it's impossible to determine a player's toughness, physicality, durability, instincts and a variety of other important elements that go into making a football player. Roberts is definitely an impressive looking athlete with speed and quickness, but that doesn't mean those attributes will translate to the field once the pads go on and the intensity ratchets up significantly. By no means am I saying Roberts can't play; instead I'm saying anyone (or than the coaches) who's made that call at this point is premature.

Paul Perillo

As a sure sign of player loyalty and for the players union to show solidarity: each player should admit they let air out of the balls once. All of them should admit to the crime. Hold a press conference where each player from each team admits this faux pas. This would be like in "Cool Hand Luke" where the men each take a spoonful of rice off his plate so that he doesn't have to spend another night in the box.

Dave Margulis

I was quite thankful that there was no Defaltegate nonsense in my mailbox this week … and then I read this post. Normally I would have deleted it and moved on but clearly the summer is here and people don't have the time to write in like they normally do because we didn't get many submissions this week. Here's the thing … why would players admit to doing something illegal if they hadn't? Where's the solidarity in that? Should the Patriots organization admit to pumping in crowd noise because the Falcons lost draft picks for doing it? Of course not. Should Bill Belichick admit that he received texts from Nick Caserio during games because the Browns got caught doing that? You see where I'm going here? I agree the punishment the Patriots received in this is ridiculous, but so too is this suggestion.

Paul Perillo

Do you think that instead of taking out one of our linebackers we would use three lineman and three linebackers on passing downs to keep Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower in at the same time?

Chris Zapata

The Patriots have frequently kept all three linebackers on the field at the same time prior to Mayo's injury last season. They also worked with a lot of two linebackers sets as well. Belichick will mix and match his personnel as he sees fit. I'd be surprised to see him using both Mayo and Hightower on every down on a regular basis early in the season with both coming off significant injuries. But there will be times when he uses all three together because of their versatility. They are all well-rounded linebackers who can contribute on all downs. I'd even expect to see more pass rushing from the group as the season wears on. But definitely your suggestion is something that Belichick has done in the past and I'd expect to see more of it in the future.

Paul Perillo

I like what we have at running back in terms of power but, in terms of talent, I don't see a whole lot. Sure we have James White, who is unproven like Tyler Gaffney, but do you see the Pats signing Ray Rice? He is incredibly talented and may come at a low price due to him missing most of last year. Have you heard anything about possible interest in the running back?

Connor H.

I very rarely answer my questions in 100 percent absolute terms when it's my turn to do the mailbag but this one is easy. There is a 0.0 percent chance of the Patriots signing Ray Rice. First, Robert Kraft is already on record saying that he would never sign him. Second, even before his legal troubles Rice was already well on the decline. That much is evidenced by the fact that no one has signed him while some of the other domestic abusers (Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald) received contract offers elsewhere. Yes, there was a gruesome video that was attached to Rice's situation but there's no doubt in my mind that if he were still producing like he was three years ago that some team would have rolled the dice and signed him by now. Someone probably will at some point – but it won't be the Patriots.

Paul Perillo