A couple of thoughts which I would appreciate your comments on. First, Pats 3-4 defense was designed to incorporate a big stout defensive line with big set-the-edge OLBs - all designed to stop the run first. The league has transitioned from run first to a QB driven pass first approach to offense; and big OLBs who can do all that is required in this defense are hard to find. Is it possible the Pats might alter their 3-4 schemes to accommodate the trend and available talent. Second, my sense is the Pats need people who can rush the passer, not a pass rusher. Pats defense looks for sacks from multiple people versus a 12-sack guy who the offense can scheme against.
The first part of this email is an interesting topic, and one that I posed to a number of football people last year at the Combine. Michael Lombardi sort of agreed with the idea that the big OLBs required for this scheme might be a little outdated. He said the sport today is more like basketball on grass and needed more athletic players on the edge. Scott Pioli, on the other hand, pooh-poohed talk of the defense being dated. He told me that people thought this type of 3-4 was dead in the 80s, 90s and 2000s, but that teams like the Giants and Patriots have won throughout those decades at various points using the defense. So he basically laughed off the theory, and referenced it again this year in Indy when pointing to the fact that the Patriots went 14-2 with a defense that might be out of date. Of course, he failed to point out that the Patriots won all those games thanks to a high-scoring offense and a playmaking secondary, not in any way because of the play of the defensive front seven.
Understanding all that, I think Bill Belichick and the Patriots might tweak what they do up front defensively – and as such tweak the requirements of some of the positions like OLB – but will not make dramatic changes to the scheme. It makes it hard to find the right players sometimes, but when you do the defense can still be very good.
In terms of the second part of the email, I couldn't disagree more. I think the Patriot shave plenty of players that can rush the passer on the roster including Tully Banta-Cain, Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham, Gary Guyton and others. What the team lacks is a true pass rusher. That's what I think they need to find/draft – aka Robert Quinn. When you have a guy like that, even if an opponent schemes to take him away, he immediately makes everyone else on the defense better.
I am wondering why you guys feel OT is such a big need for the Pats. With Stephen Neal retiring and not too much depth at guard I feel that guard is a much bigger need for the Pats. More than likely Mike Pouncey will be there at 17 and possibly 28. Belichick loves Gators and they held a private work out with him. Not to mention the enormous depth at OT in this year's draft. My next question is when do you think [Jordan] Todman form UCONN will come off the board because he seems like BB type of RB. He can catch, run and watching him at the college football skills challenge a few months ago, I noticed he has incredible acceleration. Thanks.
The needs on the line are pretty easy to break down. Right now the Patriots return one starter from last season at tackle (Sebastian Vollmer) and two at guard (franchised Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly). Nick Kaczur is a former starting tackle, but is a major question mark due to last year's back surgery and his large salary. There doesn't seem to be a ton more on the depth chart with the hopes of developing, save for maybe a longer term project in Steve Maneri. On the inside, both Rich Ohrnberger and Ryan Wendell could be in line to see reps. So while I think the team may actually need to draft a player at both positions relatively early, I think the bigger need is at tackle. I also think that it's easier to find a guard to fill-in capably than it is to do the same with a tackle. There is good depth at the top of the tackle crop in the draft, with plenty of players who could go in the Patriots sweat spot late in the first round or early in the second. But I wouldn't be surprised to see the team take a guard in that area, or a guard/tackle combo like Danny Watkins, either.
Todman is actually my favorite prospect. He's from my high school and is a good kid. I'm pulling for him to go as high as possible, hopefully to a system that's a good fit. My guess is that he'll get picked sometime late in the second round or early in the third. I think he has chance to be a very good committee back in the NFL, with the outside shot to be an every down back. The only question I have about his skills is his pass catching and pass protection, as he didn't do a ton of either at UConn. But he clearly has the speed and playmaking ability for the NFL.
How far are the Pats willing to trade up to get a 3-down pass rusher like JJ Watt or Robert Quinn? It seems Dallas or Washington is an ideal spot to trade.
I think you have a good area targeted for the team to trade up, as I'd put those two teams very high on the possible trade list. But I don't think you should lump Watt and Quinn together. That's like saying Richard Seymour and Willie McGinest were the same type of player. In the Patriots system one is a pocket collapsing 5-technique end, the other is a big outside linebacker.
Hey guys, wondering what your read is on Brooks Reed? I'm seeing that he's gunna be available around the bottom of the first/top of the second. Heard that he's been in NE for a meeting. Seems like a Patriot type of fit -- versatile, experienced 3-year starter, special teams contributor and has a high football IQ. I like what I read of him but I've seen only basic YouTube highlights. Hoping you guys can shed more light on him.Charles Matthew
Reed has been a rising prospect in a lot of mock drafts of late, including some as high as to the Patriots at No. 17. He's a pretty impressive pass rusher with a very nice spin move and good motor. But I wouldn't necessarily describe him as a versatile defender or a guy with a high football IQ. He was basically asked only to put his hand down and rush the passer in what he himself described as a pretty simple scheme at Arizona. I think he'd take a while to develop in a complex scheme like the Patriots. I also don't think he has the ability to play much in space on two feet. If you just want a guy to rush the passer, I think Reed is an option. But I don't think his talents and limited versatility warrant a first-round pick.
I was wondering what you guys thought about the Pats bringing in Vernon Gholston? I know he didn't do anything for the Jets but maybe he would be better off in Bill's defense than he was in Rex's.
Well, Nick, even though Gholston has been in a pass rush Hayes for a few years in New York I'd still take a chance on him. It's doubtful he's ever going to be anything in the NFL. To mix a couple Bill Parcells metaphor he's a puppy lost in tall grass who doesn't bite. And Ryan's scheme would seem to be a more aggressive one. So Gholston should have, you know, at least a sack. He doesn't. He's one of the draft's all-time biggest busts. (I like to refer to them as Dolly Partons.) But why not take a flier on him even if just for training camp?
I'm still wandering what you guys think of bringing in T.O. And Moss for a year or 2 to try and get a couple Super Bowls before Brady retires? I know they both bring a lot of baggage but they both must know their chances of getting rings is running out.
Nick followed a good question with a questionable one. Hey, picking questions for Ask PFW, like the draft, is an inexact science. Moss and T.O.? That's a terrible idea at this point. Both have lost a few things physically. Neither is exactly stable. Trying to get them to coexist would be quite a trick. Plus, if you sign them both you might negate the chance to win Super Bowls because Brady might just retire immediately. Sorry, Nick, not going to happen. And we should all be thankful for that.
Thank you guys for all of your insight into the upcoming draft and keeping the offseason moving. My question is in regards to the tackle position. What do you guys think about drafting Ben Ijalana from Villanova in the second, third or maybe even fourth round? The Patriots have a history in acquiring players from Villanova, such as the Ventrones. Also, Mike Mayock has a good rating on Ijalana, who didn't participate at the Combine, and I think that a lot of teams will over look him, leaving him ripe for the picking in the later rounds giving us the most bang for our buck.
Not sure if Ijalana is going to be quite the sleeper prospect you think. Our friends over at NFLDraftScout.com have him rated as a possible second-round pick. I think he's a solid prospect, although he doesn't have the elite height (a little under 6-4) that most teams like at tackle. He'll likely end up a guard in the NFL. He wasn't really challenged physically in college, but certainly was a very good, durable, productive player. Another smaller school prospect I liked even more, and who might be even more of a steal, is Lehigh's Will Rackley. He was a true man among boys and absolutely killed people at that level. He's also a tackle who will likely play guard in the NFL and could go in the middle of the draft.
Do u think we have a future QB on the roster or will the Pats pick one up in a few years. Tom Brady has been a stud and seems to have a few more years left but we all know that injuries do happen and sooner or later they will need to think about this.
I don't think the Patriots have their future starting quarterback on the roster. Brian Hoyer is OK as a backup, but I don't see him as a starter. Of course I never saw Matt Cassel as a starter either. And if Brady plays his four more seasons under contract, Hoyer would be in his seventh year when taking over. Not exactly ideal. I think the team could once again look to draft a passer in the middle or later rounds with an eye on development. At the very high end of that list would be a guy like FSU'sChristian Ponder, who I think would look good in a Patriots uniform and system. A lot of people have thrown around the likes of Alabama's Greg McElroy (who I think will be only a backup in the NFL) and Iowa's Ricky Stanzi. Two guys I'd keep an eye on are Delaware's Pat Devlin, who has very good accuracy, and, as a possible undrafted steal, Kentucky's Mike Hartline.
Hello there, I believe if CB Patrick Peterson falls to the seventh slot in the 2011 Draft you will see the Patriots trade up to it and select him. The Patriots are not going to stay at 17 and they're not trading down but up this year. Look to see the Patriots to draft someone you would not expect. My guess is Patrick Peterson. Thank you.
I, too, think there is a very good chance that the Patriots trade up this year. But I don't think it would be for LSU's Peterson. That would be a huge investment for a cornerback. I don't think Peterson is going to be an elite NFL corner. To me he'll likely end up more as a very good big cornerback, maybe in the Antonio Cromartie mold, but not as an elite guy like Darrelle Revis or Champ Bailey. Peterson is a dynamic return man, and he probably will have a bigger impact in that role as a rookie. The Patriots may very well trade up, but I don't think it will be for Peterson. I just don't see the pressing need or think he'd live up to such a high investment.
It seems to me that there are six or seven outstanding outside pass rusher types who on the Patriots would play outside linebacker in this draft. On the other hand, since the trade of Richard Seymour, right end has not been fully satisfactory. Jarvis Green proved to be washed up; Mike Wright was OK, but only that, and then got hurt. Nobody's been another Seymour. This year's draft has only one player who looks like he's in that mold. That's J.J. Watt of Wisconsin, a big DE with some quickness. He looks like someone who can set the edge and keep runners from getting loose.
I don't think there are as many elite rushers in this draft as you do. Or, that there is a huge lack of talent at the end spot. I think both spots have a small handful of high-end players. Beyond Von Miller and Robert Quinn, I think there is a fall-off with the pass rushers for outside linebacker. On the flipside, I think Cameron Jordan and Cam Heyward are both options, like Watt, for the end spot. The question is more about what the bigger need is? To me the answer is simple – pass rusher.
G'day fellas! Talking about the Draft, (and being the biggest Idaho patriot fan) what do we think about Boise State's Austin Pettis? He will be a later round selection (4th or 5th projected) he is tall, aggressive, an end zone threat, pretty much what we want for not too high of a pick. And plus he has been a part of some outstanding years at Boise, telling you the man can win games and play under pressure! Welker for President!!
G'day back at you, mate! I actually really like Pettis. As you know, he was hugely productive for Boise. He's a great red zone guy. He has great size, even if not elite speed to get down the field. He has great hands and playmaking ability, making up for his inability to create separation at times. As late round picks go, I think you could do much worse. And if he develops, he could be a nice bigger bodied option for Brady.
I'm wondering why everyone is talking mostly about trading up to get 1 pass rusher. I think the need may be greater for quality OLs. Protecting Brady is key. The Jets were getting to him at times rushing only 3 guys. That should never happen regardless of the coverage! Am I the only one with this thought, or do you all think that potentially great OLs are going to be there in the 2nd round? I say take Castonzo and Solder in the 1st, a running back at 33, then go after an edge rusher in free agency. Maybe trade Mankins for DeMarcus Ware. Your thoughts?J.P. Galasso
I think the offensive line has become the second biggest need on the team, but I still think it lags well behind pass rusher. We've seen how much the Patriots have struggled to cobble together pass rushers and outside linebacker depth in recent year. But I still have great faith in offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to make good on the line with whatever talent he has to work with. So if the Patriots don't take a high-end pass rusher in the first three picks, I'll be both surprised and unhappy. I also like Logan Mankins as much as anyone. I hope he is a Patriots lineman for a long time. He's a great player and good guy to talk to. But I'd make that trade in a nanoheartbeat. Pretty sure that the Cowboys would not.
Hey guys do you think the Patriots would trade one of their first round picks for a WR if the CBA mess is figured out?
That would depend on the receiver. Larry Fitzgerald is a name that gets thrown around. I think the Patriots would trade a first rounder for him. I don't think they'd even hesitate. But not sure there are too many other supposedly available receivers that would also fit that scenario.
I was wondering back during the Patriots championship years, when they were able to get pressure and able to sack or make plays on the defense was because of the D-Line when they had Seymour, Washington, Wilfork and Warren. Also when they were using McGinest and Vrabel on the line who could play DE on a 4-3 defense. So I was wondering what you thought about my facts, also what you think about my draft picks. Use their 17th pick to select Cameron Jordan or Cameron Hayward to play one of the DE positions and then use their 28th pick on maybe Aldon Smith to play maybe a McGinest and Vrabel role then use the other picks on other needs.
While it may not be my ideal scenario, if the Patriots leave the first round of the draft with Smith and one of the Camerons I'll be very much intrigued with the potential on defense. Jordan would seem to be a good fit for the end spot with some versatility to move around on various downs. And many people, including FOBB (Friend of Bill Belichick) Michael Lombardi, have compared Smith to McGinest. He certainly has potential and his best football should be ahead of him. Not a bad haul for a team looking to add playmakers to the front of its defense.
Hey, been following all your reviews and would love to know about what the Pats can do this year and the prospects. I have 3 quick questions, who will u prefer and why? A) J.J. Watt or Ryan Kerrigan , B) Akeem Ayers or Justin Houston C) Pats have been working out with lots of defensive back this year (Prince Amukamara being part of it) do u think they're gonna address this position in first two round or go with DE ,OLB, OL and a wideout.Taha Mufti
A) Kerrigan. He's a proven pass rusher and playmaker, seems like a Patriots type player. B) Houston. He's also a proven pass rusher and has experienced at OLB in the 3-4. He might be more game ready than most. C) I don't think the Patriots will take a cornerback early in the draft. I think there are too many other positions of need, many of which you list. I would also add running back to that list.
I was wondering, when there is a new CBA, do you think the Patriots could trade Darius Butler to Tampa given the situation with Aquib Talib? And what do you think they could get for him if they did trade him to Tampa?
At whatever point trades are allowed again, I wouldn't be shocked if the Patriots looked to trade one or a couple defensive backs. Obviously Brandon Meriweather could be a candidate as he heads into the final year of his contract. Butler, who went from opening day starter to the bench last year, could also be an option. Not sure if the team is ready to give up on the former second-round pick after just two seasons, but with Devin McCourty and Leigh Bodden to start Butler's future isn't exactly bright at this point. And Tampa might be a team, as you mention, looking to add a cornerback. But it certainly would be the only potential trade partner.
I know about the collective bargaining agreement but let say that it gets fixed, which player that is still under contract will be most likely let go of??? What are the chances that Benny (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) gets signed long-term?? This is my first time writing but I am a big FAN!!!
Based on the reports we've already seen published, Nick Kaczur might be the most likely guy to get cut. He has a pretty high salary ($3.4 million) for a guy who missed all of last season with a back injury and didn't sound, in those reports, like he's interested in taking a pay cut. Green-Ellis obviously won't be signed until after the CBA gets worked out. Even then I'm not sure the team would be looking to do a long deal, unless it came at very low money. I would think they'd like to see him produce for another year before committing. Of course if he does that, his value on the open market would only increase. I'd be willing to wait and see, though.
As half our roster is in its first or second season would it not be better to move up as far as possible with all our picks and get 4 or 5 real quality players instead of picking up another 10 or 12 rookies and discarding half of them. Picking up 5/6 quality players as early as possible and allowing the last 2 draft classes to mature would leave us in a very strong position going into the new season.
Your preaching to the choir my friend. I'm all for trading up and getting quality not quantity in this draft. Twenty four players over the last two drafts has turned the roster over and injected youth. Now it's time to get impact players that can push the team back over the playoff and championship hump. Generally those players don't come in the late rounds of the draft.
As we know every year Bill [Belichick] passes on the players that everyone is talking about and selects someone almost completely off the radar. I could see Bill moving back a few picks or just at 17 selecting Martez Wilson with our first pick. I know it is too early for Martez, but you could say the same for Mayo and Mankins. Do you think I am completely off my rocker or do you see this as a possibility and what do you think of Martez, do you believe he could play OLB in our system?
First, I don't think Belichick takes guys that are off the radar that often. Maybe that was the case with Sebastian Vollmer, but other than that most guys are very much in the pre-draft mix. By all accounts Mankins was expected to go one pick later to the 49ers. Mayo was a top prospect. And last year McCourty was considered a top 25 prospect by many people, including yours truly. Second, I don't think Wilson would be a good OLB for the Patriots. He certainly wouldn't be the elite pass rusher that the team so desperately needs. He may be a jack-of-all-trades, but that's not was this team needs right now. It needs a pure pass rusher.
What is the fascination with Quinn and picking a DE with the first pick or even moving up to pick a DE/OLB. There are numerous busts at the top of the draft ( this is in comparison to where they are picked), Jamaal Anderson, Gaines Adams, Aaron Curry and Vernon Gholston to name a few, all where supposed to be great pass rushers. You are saying that Aaron Curry coming out did not have as much hype as Quinn and look what happened. Historically an OT or an elite guard is more of a safer pick and guess what an area of major need. I say pick Soder/Carimi or Castonzo whomever BB likes or is available. OLB/DE can be addressed later.
This is what I like to call the loser draft mentality. Basically it goes with the idea that just because other people drafted busts we should avoid those positions. What a terrible theory. There are busts (or Dolly Partons) and stars at all positions. The further you get from the top of the draft the less choices you have and the worse chances you have of selecting an elite player. That's just the way it is. Curry had huge hype coming into the draft, but I never thought he did anything at an elite level. He hasn't lived up to it. Derrick Johnson was the same way, not doing any one thing at the highest level. I want a guy that rushes the passer at an elite level. I trust Belichick's eye for talent, although like all personnel guys he has his share of busts in the closet. I want Belichick to take the best player he sees, preferably a pass rusher. If he doesn't like Quinn, then he shouldn't take him. But I would.
I am always confused as to why you guys are opposed to taking Ingram in the first round if he were available. From what he displayed in college, he has speed, lateral quickness, strength and patience as a runner, he reminds me a lot of Fred Taylor and I see upside and potential in him, why don't you guys like him?
I think Ingram is destined to be an average NFL running back, at best. I don't see anything about him that's special or leads me to believe he'll be an elite runner with a huge upside at the next level. I don't love his speed or quickness. I think he'll be surprised by the speed of NFL defenses. I don't think he does any one thing at an elite level. I don't think he has nearly the burst or power that Fred Taylor had in his best of times. Ingram will probably have a nice career averaging about 600 or 800 yards a season for a while. I don't think that's worthy of a first-round pick. I don't think he can change an NFL offense. Sorry we have to disagree.
I know you guys are in love with Robert Quinn but could you guys be too in love with him? His sack totals were padded against lesser competition, he has a ton of off the field issues, and may not be able to hold up against the run. That sounds like too much risk-reward.
That's a real possibility, the fact that I may be too much in love with his potential. As I've said, he could be the next Gholston. But he could also be the next Ware, a guy who FOBB Mike Mayock compared him to. I'm just willing to take the chance. Let's be honest, all these picks come with some risk. Generally the ones that come with more risk also come with the bigger upside. That's Quinn. I think. I'd probably even be willing to bet Bill Belichick's salary on it, which is essentially what he and other top decision makers do every time they make a first-round selection.
What are your thoughts on the Patriots drafting Will Yeatman from Maryland with their last draft pick? Yeatman is a former All-American lacrosse player. He possesses unheard of athleticism at 6-7 275 pounds 34 ¾ inch arms. He also ran in the 4.7 range at Maryland's pro day and posted a 28.5-inch vertical. It seems like Yeatman has potential to be extremely good. He could be the gem of this years draft. If he comes to New England, Belichick could mold him into a good OL or DL prospect like he did with Steve Neal.
As soon as I saw something about Yeatman, I thought he'd be the perfect Belichick pick. He marries the coach's three favorite loves: football, lacrosse and developing players. I don't know much about Yeatman, but I'm intrigued in the story and his measurable numbers. I'd take the chance on a seventh-round pick or rookie free agent deal. At the very least it would be a good feature story for Patriots Football Weekly. (It would add also another two-sport star to Patriots history, like your namesake.)
Even though Robert Quinn is a fantastic edge rusher, I don't think Bill Belichick will select him. From what I've read and heard he has trouble setting the edge/gets pushed around on running plays, and nobody knows if he can play in space. It doesn't seem to be in Belichick's nature to take a top 10 player with so many possible negatives. This may all be a moot point after Quinn's great pro day. He may be gone before pick #9. My questions are: Would it be worth taking Quinn if he would just be used in passing situations? Is there any quality edge rusher out there that meets BB's standards (6'5 with a 4.6 40). Thank you.
There is a perfect candidate who fits Belichick standards. He's 6-5, 260 pounds and runs a 4.59 40. His name is Robert Quinn. Of course another guy who also fits the mold in terms of numbers, at least, is Ryan Kerrigan. I'd take Quinn anywhere I could get him. But if he's gone, then I'm interested in Kerrigan to see if he could also get the job done.
I don't really see BB trading any of his picks to move up in the first round. He has only done it once in his tenure with the Patriots (for Ty Warren in '03). I think he will either stay put or trade the 17th pick for a late first round choice and a second rounder. Your thoughts?
For the record Belichick also traded up to get Daniel Graham with the 21st pick of the 2002 draft. I will not be a happy camper if Belichick trades down yet again. As I said above, I think this draft should be about getting as many top impact prospects as possible. Quality over quantity. Generally quality is closer to the top of the draft. The future is now, while Brady is still around to enjoy it.
I don't see a need to draft a running back this draft at all. I believe Woodhead did great this season as well as Green Ellis. There is no need at all to draft a running back. Pass rushers and an elite wide receiver would be great high draft picks. An OL can be taken off waivers and free agency this season. What's your opinion on this?
I do think the Patriots need to and will draft a running back, probably in the second or third round. Woodhead was a nice surprise and Green-Ellis was solid but not spectacular. The rest of the committee – Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk – may not be back, as all are free agents at this point. Even if you think the two remaining young players are proven playmakers in their respective roles, some depth needs to be added. I actually think the team needs to add a developmental player who could end up as the featured back in the future. As much as there is to like about Green-Ellis, I'm not sold that he's the answer at the position for the long term. I kind of feel the same way about Woodhead in the third down/change-of-pace role. I'd actually be looking to add a couple running backs through either the draft or free agency.
Do you think that the Patriots will take a RB or OLB with the 17th round pick in the draft or neither?
John Vespo III
The chances are much greater that they take an OLB at 17. I'd be stunned if New England took a running back in that early slot. The strength of the running back class this year is in the second and third rounds, with no truly elite talent in the mix early.
Hey guys, love the show. First time sending a comment. I think that the Pats need to get Robert Quinn, by any means necessary. I've wondered for some years now how good Pats defense would be with a dominant pass rusher. After hearing Mike Mayock compare Quinn to Demarcus Ware, I'm sold. I know that Belichick never drafts an OLB that high, but after watching the past few years, we need a playmaker. A couple of years ago, I was one of those guys that wanted the Pats to draft Gholston. I'm glad I was wrong, and the Jets got him. But this time, they need to take a chance. And that chance is Robert Quinn! Thought?
Apparently I have an alter ego named Eddie Rodriquez. Well said. And remember when we used to say that Belichick wouldn't take a guard or an inside linebacker high in the draft. He did, end Patriots fans ended up with a couple All-Pro players named Logan Mankins and Jerod Mayo. Let's do it again with Quinn! Wanna win, go get Quinn! Quinning! (Please send any other Quinn-related draft slogans in to Ask PFW for next week's mailbag. Erik Scalavino will be happy to post them."