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Ask PFW: "Do you think we should trade up?"

The NFL Draft and free agency remain the focus of fans' questions in this week's PFW mailbag.


First and foremost I would like to thank you guys for the awesome work you do. I have few questions for you to answer. Do you think the Patriots will trade their 29 pick of the [2014 NFL] Draft to the Cardinals for Larry Fitzgerald? I expect the Patriots to trade their 29 pick plus future picks to select more players on the 2nd and 3rd round. Do you see this scenario happening? Patriots will be stealing the show on day 2 of the draft. I see BB make a move on acquiring couple elite players plus landing Adrian Peterson. Do you see Adrian Peterson on Pats uniform?
Mike Sanchez from Santa Rosa, California

First and foremost, I would like to say I've been to Santa Rosa, to visit the Charles Schulz Musuem. Lovely place!

Secondly, while I would love for the Patriots to acquire Larry Fitzgerald – I've been saying it for the past few years – I've given up hope of it ever happening while he is in his prime and while Tom Brady is still the QB here. And no, I harbor no illusions of New England somehow swinging a deal for the league's best running back.

Those two ideas, though wonderful to ponder, are about as likely to happen as poor ol' Charlie Brown ever getting to kick that football.*
Erik Scalavino*


The Patriots are making some waves in the media this week by hosting Johnny "Football" Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. Is it possible the Patriots have no interest in either? It seems to me like the patriots never pick the people they host anyways because they don't want to tip their hand. That being the case, both those guys will be drafted and be starters, doesn't it make sense to get an up close look of how they operate, what schemes they understand, what their weaknesses are, etc.*
*Matt S.

I wouldn't get too excited about these reported visits. The Patriots, like every other team in the league, are just doing their due diligence on the top prospects in the draft. They'd be remiss if, for instance, one or both of these QBs took an unexpected tumble in the first round and suddenly wound up on the board for New England at 29. Might the team have found Tom Brady's heir apparent plopped in their lap? They won't know unless they've done all their homework.

That said, it's unusual for this team to bring in such big-name players at the QB position since Brady's been the starter. It's possible they're considering moving up to grab one of them, but more likely, they're just collecting as much info as possible to get a better idea of just how good this overall draft class is.*
Erik Scalavino*

Hi, love reading this every time. My question is, do you think we should trade up? There is some good talent near the top 10 and I feel like we could use them to work towards the future. I know we can make the Super Bowl and win it this year if we don't get too many injuries again. Go Pats!
David Contrersfas

David, I always think the Patriots should trade up. The best chance of picking a star player comes from having as early a selection as possible. In any draft, not just this one, there's always more talent available at the top than in the middle or at the bottom. Sadly, I don't run this team's war room. If I did, the philosophy would be to focus more on acquiring proven veteran free agents and drafting fewer, but more talented, rookies. Rarely would I keep picks in rounds four or later. I'd move up to take players in the first three rounds and be done with it.
Erik Scalavino

When are we going to make Hightower a MLB? The guy has not lived up to his athletic hype and Jamie Collins has already shown more ability on the outside. A lot of people are saying that we need help at WR, TE, and DL, but honestly we need some bodies at linebacker, too. Losing [Brandon] Spikes and [Dane] Fletcher was a big blow and we're really hurting for depth right now, I don't think that group could survive another injury to a starter. Are there any guys in the draft or left in FA that you think would fit in our system?
Logan Mullins

Now that Spikes is suiting up in Buffalo and Fletcher's in Tampa, I think you'll see Hightower spend more time on the inside in 2014. I agree that he hasn't lived up completely to his pre-draft billing as a versatile, athletic playmaker. You might see a lot of switching between Hightower and Jerod Mayo during the spring and summer practices and preseason contests, to determine which of the two is more suited for a full-time spot at middle linebacker. My instincts tell me it's going to be Hightower who eventually gets the nod, with Mayo taking up a more frequent role on the outside. Collins, as you mentioned, will be the starter on the other side. The Patriots might also get a young player or two in the draft or as undrafted free agents this spring to fill out the roster depth, but I don't see that being a high priority at the moment.
Erik Scalavino

I've had a problem with the Patriot's pass rush since 2006. It's been inadequate even with Chandler Jones. I'm not high on Ninkovich, he's not very good. What are the chances the Patriots give Shaun Phillips a shot? He's still available as far as I know and as a situational guy, he could do some damage to the pocket. What is your opinion on Phillips? Thanks again for the insight!
David Sarro

I couldn't agree with you more, David. Pass rush is still an issue this team needs to address. They should've gotten one of the many premier players at that position who were on the market this offseason, but they failed to do so. However, Phillips is no longer an option, having signed with Tennessee recently. That leaves the Patriots with only last-resort options like Will Smith. I would Smith, however, just to have a veteran who can be an adequate third player in the pass rush rotation. New England desperately needs that right now.
Erik Scalavino


The Patriots biggest need is for a tall (6'4" or taller) and fast receiver who can get past defenders and catch balls on the backside of the end zone. Does anyone else agree?*
*Rusty Tuney

It's not their biggest need, but it certainly is one of them. I could very easily see the Patriots picking such a player early in the draft, if any are still available.
Erik Scalavino

Why are you so opposed to Kenbrell Thompkins? You guys are always saying something about Josh Boyce's potential, but look at last season. Thompkins had a lot more production than Boyce.
Ted McCarroll

Are you asking us at PFW, Ted, or the Patriots' coaching staff? Because it's the latter who relegated Thompkins to the bench in the middle and end of the season and allowed Boyce to take on more of a roll during that same stretch. Thompkins was thrust into a starting role very early in the year due to a rash of injuries at wide receiver, or else he'd not have been such a major contributor, which led to his being more productive than Boyce. Let's not forget, either, that Boyce was recovering from foot surgery for much of last year, and as a result, was playing catch-up to the other guys at his position. Boyce's and Thompkins' trajectories right now seem to be heading in entirely different directions, so, we're putting more faith in the guy who's stock appears to be rising, and that's Boyce.
Erik Scalavino


Hey guys! Lifetime Pats fan here. I'm so excited for what we now have on defense. I just wanted to touch on the Adrian Wilson situation. From my understanding, when we signed him last year, it was for a relatively inexpensive veteran deal. I know he spent last season on the couch, but, he's still a veteran safety with an impressive career behind him. Also, apparently there are a number of Patriots players who worked out with him in the offseason, and they fully expect to see him return. I'm wondering, why is everyone jumping on the idea of grabbing a safety in the early rounds of the draft? Not to mention, we also took Duron Harmon last year. Most of the team seems to think he's ready to take a bigger role on defense. Thank you guys so much for all your info, and as always, I can't wait to read your next Ask PFW.*
*Mike in Revere!

Thanks, Mike. We appreciate your loyalty. You may have answered your own question when you described Wilson as "a veteran safety with an impressive career behind him." The crucial word in that sentence fragment is "behind." Wilson had a less than memorable preseason last summer – one worthy of being cut altogether, in fact. The team seems to have done him a veteran favor by stashing him on injured reserve and allowing him to continue cashing a paycheck. Later in the year, Wilson tweeted a picture of himself rehabbing an Achilles injury, which he appeared to suffer long after being placed on IR. Wilson's release last week most likely stemmed from what I and many others saw last year, coupled with this recent injury.

That's one reason why there's been so much debate about the Patriots needing to upgrade the safety position. The other is another one that you mentioned: Harmon. I wasn't exactly wowed by what I saw out of him a year ago. Granted, he was a rookie (over-drafted, at that) who was thrust into a significant role far ahead of schedule, and it's possible he'll make great strides in this, his second year (we all know about the famous "year-two jump" in the NFL).

Count me, however, among those not holding my breath. What's more, the recent re-signing of Patrick Chung does little to address the gaping need for a viable starting safety alongside Devin McCourty. I agree with all the pundits you've heard and referenced who want the Patriots to acquire a talented young player at safety via the draft.
Erik Scalavino

There are many questions, articles, theories about the Pat's need for safety position. Usually, these questions are about Adrian Wilson, the potential shift of Logan Ryan or about the draft. However, Tavon Wilson is also in the roster. So what about his role in Pats uniform? He was a second-round pick, so I thought, that he'll have a brighter future. Now, I also believe in the draft, and not the current squad.
Jozsef Bakk

Tavon Wilson, I predict, will be 2014's Jermaine Cunningham: a player who never should have been drafted (he would've been a nice little free agent rookie signing, though) and whose inability to perform sufficiently at the NFL level will finally catch up with him. As I said earlier, the draft is your best hope for finding an adequate solution to the starter/depth problem the Patriots currently have at safety.
Erik Scalavino

Has any "respectable" (NFL or ESPN) analyst predicted who the Pats would take in the first round of any year in the BB era? It seems every year we see many names listed for the Pats potential overall pick, but no one even comes close. Jerod Mayo, Laurence Maroney, Rob Gronkowski... none of these was predicted as a first-rounder for the Pats, as I recall. Is this the norm, or is BB and the rest of his think tank once again the exception?
Patrick Colletta

First, I need to correct you on two points, Patrick. Actually, in my first year with the team (2006), I accurately predicted the Maroney pick. In addition, Gronkowski was a second-round draft choice, not a first.

That being said, most of these so-called "respectable" "experts" have no clue whatsoever which player is going to be selected by which team. Even when there's a "consensus" about whom the top pick should be, you just never know (remember what the Chiefs did last year with the first overall pick, for example?). The only time any of us knows for sure is when the team with the first overall pick signs their pick before the draft. Aside from that, it's just a somewhat educated guessing game, and yes, most of the people who put mock drafts together are wrong on the majority of their selections. It's just too difficult an exercise, and while it may be fun for fans like you to pour over these mocks, keep in mind that they are worthy exactly what you paid for them: absolutely nothing.
Erik Scalavino

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