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Ask PFW: Down the draft wire

Pats trade first-round pick to the Bengals or Saints for an extra third-round pick, select Brandon Albert, (plays RT for a year before moving to LT and gives ground game more power) and then select CB Porter in Round 2, then have the leverage to select a good ILB with third-round options. What do you think?Ray Lapre

Well, for one of the rare occasions in PFW Land someone has actually proposed a trade that is somewhat viable. We usually get the "Brian Urlacher wants out of Chicago, let's trade Pierre Woods and one of our third rounders for him." That proposal might be funny if it wasn't from an actual email I received. Anyway, on paper, your deal is plausible. Swapping two or three spots to get to Cincy or New Orleans would likely provide an extra third-round pick, which is what you suggested. However, I'm going to cut ties with you on your selection. I just don't like taking offensive linemen that high in the draft and I also don't believe that area is a pressing need at this point. Albert is also quickly rising and could be gone by the time the Pats pick at nine or 10 in your scenario, although Ryan Clady would likely still be available if you wanted to take a tackle. The Patriots offensive line is solid with three Pro Bowlers from last year and another in Stephen Neal that has All-Pro talent if he could stay healthy. Belichick used just one first-round pick (Logan Mankins) in putting the group together, and that came at No. 32, the very last pick of the round. My belief is that good offensive linemen can be found without investing such a high pick, even though many of the tackles chosen in the top 10 in recent years have panned out. I'd rather invest that kind of money in a pass rusher or an interior defensive lineman, both of which are tougher to find. But overall I like your proposal and the Pats could do worse than finding a future left tackle.
Paul Perillo

You guys always make fun of the fans who write in with ideas for trades that will never happen, and those asking why the team hasn't signed players that would be horrible additions to the team. Yet you proclaim that Chad Jackson will be our replacement for Donte' Stallworth? Are you serious? It is truly our turn to laugh and make fun of you.
Andrew Grigg

First, you're certainly not the first to laugh and make fun of us. That's pretty much what everyone does, but what are you going to do? In terms of the laughing from our perspective, you're right. When fans suggest trades like the Urlacher one from above, we laugh at them for their blatant lack of reality. But as you can see from the above post, when fans right in balanced proposals that actually involve both teams giving up something, then we stick to analyzing rather than laughing. Chad Jackson is a lightning rod in New England right now because he's done nothing in his two years. I believe this is his last chance to show why Belichick invested a second-round pick in him. I believe he is healthy and will be playing a big role in the offense this year. Is that too optimistic on my part? Maybe it is, but I watched the kid at training camp two years ago and I don't believe talent is his problem. If he can commit himself to the offense and do what the coaches need him to do, I feel he'll be on the outside opposite Randy Moss and basically provide somewhere in the neighborhood of what Donte' Stallworth did last year. Let the laughing continue.
Paul Perillo

Sounds like Chad wants out of Cincy. Any chance a Chad Jackson plus a third-rounder for instance gets that done? I would think that is a deal the Pats would do?
Joe Hall

Hey Andrew, what do you think of this one? Chad Jackson and a third-round pick for one of the best five receivers in football – does that sound even to you? Yes, Joe, I would think that would be something the Patriots would be very much interested in. If the Bengals were interested, however, I think Roger Goodell should take the franchise away from Mike Brown immediately and find someone who is actually trying to win. As much as I'm hoping Jackson emerges this season, the reality is that he's done nothing while Johnson continues to put up 1,500-yard seasons in Cincy. So a third-rounder and an unproven third-year man probably wouldn't be enough to get that deal done. Sorry (as our listeners say on "PFW in Progress" that's supposed to be in my Simon Cowell voice).
Paul Perillo

This is far out there but if the Cowboys can get Pacman Jones and get him reinstated by the draft. The Patriots could trade their first-round pick to Dallas for Terence Newman and one of their first-round picks. How does that sound?
Zack Ross

Why would the Cowboys want to trade their best cornerback? Pacman Jones isn't anywhere near Newman as a cornerback at this point, especially after missing an entire season. Newman needs help in the secondary in Dallas, and Pacman would give him some. But even together the Cowboys still would need more depth in the secondary so trading Newman makes no sense for them at this point. And I'm also not sure moving from 22 to 7 in the first round is enough for a player of Newman's abilities. Dallas would probably be looking for more than that.
Paul Perillo

When are we finally going to play Indy at home? It's like the NFL wants to give them a better chance to win.
Gage Brown

That's exactly right. The NFL does want Indy to win. How else can we explain it? (PS – I purposely left out the fact that Indy came to Foxborough in 2004, 2005 and 2006).
Paul Perillo

Do the Patriots really have a major weakness in the offensive line that needs to be addressed?
Phillip Tarbox

I don't believe so. Nick Kaczur is serviceable at right tackle and Stephen Neal is an animal at guard. The only problem here is Neal's chronic shoulder problem that causes him to miss games occasionally. The offensive line was rock solid for the most part in 18 games and then picked the worst possible time to turn in a clunker against the Giants. Give New York some credit for that. The Giants played well and the Patriots offensive line did not. But I don't want to overreact and blow everything up on the right side of the line. There are some tackles available in this draft (some draftniks predict five or six going in the first round) so Belichick might decide to look in that direction from a value perspective. As Ray said at the very top of this mailbag, Albert (or Clady) could replace Kaczur initially and then move to the left side as Matt Light moves to the right later in his career. That would make sense, even though I'm rooting against it.
Paul Perillo

Let's get straight to the point. LB is a position in New England that must be addressed in this draft. I want to know who your No. 1 prospect is at LB. I think Dan Connor is the top prospect, simply look at his stats. 35 starts, 419 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 4 interceptions. He almost doubled most of the other LB prospects in both tackles and interceptions. And here is a guy who can potentially run an entire defense in only a year or two. He has also already had some experience with a 3-4 scheme. He seems much more like the kind of guy that BB would want on his squad rather than a Keith Rivers or Jerod Mayo or Curtis Lofton. What do you think?
Stephen Saunders

I like Connor a lot more than I liked Paul Posluszny a year ago. Both obviously were linebackers at Penn State. I feel Connor is more athletic and the overall better player. Buffalo took Posluszny in the second round and he was starting early before breaking his arm against the Patriots and being lost for the season. I think Connor can do more things and should go somewhere at the bottom of the first round. But compared to Mayo and Rivers I think he's well behind. Those two are much more athletic and have shown the versatility to play inside and outside in college. I feel either player would be able to play inside in the Pats 3-4. I'm not as high on Lofton but he's an interesting player as well. I did like his coverage abilities when I watched him on tape but I didn't see him run to the ball as well as the other three. Connor is a solid player but I'd take Rivers or Mayo well ahead of him.
Paul Perillo

Hey guys, I've always enjoyed reading your responses to the fans questions online, but last week was the first time I listened to "PFW in Progress." It's a great show and I'll be sure to listen every week from now on. After last year I would expect two reactions from players. They will either be hurt and determined to rectify the mistakes in Arizona, or will mope and feel sorry for themselves after being that close to history. Is anyone else worried that Tom Brady's absence in the early camps could be due to a lack of hunger from Tom after falling short? I for one would be desperate to get back to work after what was ultimately a failure in 2007.
Tom Caulton

I'm not concerned about Brady in the least, but the same can't be said for all of PFW. If you've indeed been listening to "PFW in Progress" then you heard last week that Andy is a little concerned about the situation. But no one worries about Brady's motivation or lack of hunger as you put it. Brady is an incredibly driven athlete and there's no doubt that he'll be ready go once training camp rolls around. And he has not missed any camps or anything like that in the early going but rather parts of the strength and conditioning program. The organized team activities (OTAs) really don't get started until May and Brady I'm sure will be part of those passing camps. On the list of things to worry about in 2008, I keep the quarterback at the bottom.
Paul Perillo

Randy Moss was a long time trade rumor, a lot of similarities to Chad Johnson. Would you trade the 7 pick for Chad? Wow, what about that combination with Moss, Johnson and Wes Welker?Chris Daniels

Absolutely. That's a fair deal for both sides and I'd rather pay a proven commodity like Johnson big money than a rookie. But the best part for the Patriots is they don't need to make that deal because they already are pretty potent offensively without him. With Moss and Welker catching passes from Brady, the Patriots won't have any trouble putting up points. So for that reason I'd be mildly surprised if Belichick took the risk of trading for a guy who's been as outspoken throughout his career as Johnson has, even though Bill really respects him.
Paul Perillo

After losing Asante Samuel, corner is a real need. If you take a linebacker at 7 you'll lose out on the top corners. There are plenty of second-round linebackers available that have quality. You don't really need a linebacker, the ones you have are fine. Your linebackers are aging you just need some fresh legs the second round is perfect for linebackers. You can select a cornerback and then trade into the first round to get Dan Connor or Jerod Mayo.Alex Roers

I think the same could be said in reverse. You say there are plenty of second-round linebackers available and the ones the Patriots already have are fine. I believe you could say the same about corners – plenty of second-rounders available and with Fernando Bryant, Jason Webster and Lewis Sanders joining Ellis Hobbs and Brandon Meriweather the cornerback position could be fine as well. I also don't know how you could trade up from No. 55 to the bottom of the first round to select Connor or Mayo. It would be virtually impossible for the Patriots to make that big a move, as Belichick himself pointed out last week in his pre-draft press conference. The reason I'd rather look at linebackers than corners at No. 7 is I feel there aren't any corners worthy of selection in the top 10 while there are a couple of linebackers in Gholston and Rivers.
Paul Perillo

I have a possible prediction for the draft. The Pats have No. 7 and there is going to be a difficult pick for an impact player. Based off the past, I feel that the Pats will trade down with Dallas for their 22nd and 28th picks. My belief is that the Pats are not excited about paying a player top-10 money. I also feel that they are looking to fill the gap between the seventh pick and their late second-round pick. I think that Dallas is so desperate for a DB that they are willing to trade up to get one of the top 3-5 DBs. I think that there is enough depth at DB and LB in this draft that Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli could still get quality in the late first round. They would get two first-round quality players that would be a little more cap friendly. What do you guys think?
Dave Cruz

I love the idea of having two late first-round picks, but so does everybody else. In talking to several personnel people for a story I wrote in the draft preview issue for PFW it seems that most teams are looking to trade down rather than pay the big money it takes to pick at the top. So moving down to the area you want to go is easier said than done. Also, if there's enough depth at DB and LB near the bottom of the first round for the Patriots to pick solid players, why wouldn't Dallas be content to take a DB down there without dealing the two picks? In other words, I don't think they feel as desperate to make a move as you do. But if they're able to swing it, and I wouldn't put it past Belichick, I'm all for it.
Paul Perillo

What is your "PFW in Progress" schedule for draft Saturday and Sunday?Jay Ferris

Great question, Jay. Perfect timing for a shameless plug. Our draft shows will be in full swing this weekend with Saturday's program running from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday's from noon-3 p.m. (Eastern times). The draft shows are always loads of fun with the picks coming fast and furious and us buffoons having no idea what any of it means. So please tune in.
Paul Perillo

Picking at No. 7, what do you think the chances are of Chris Long or Vernon Gholston still being on the board are, seeing as Long seems to have his draft stock falling everyday, or is that just a media perception? Also, I know how much you guys love Antoine Cason, but he'll be off the board before our second-round pick, what corners do you think will be possible and worth taking then, or do you reckon a guy like Curtis Lofton will be available?David

I think there's a fair chance that one of those players will be available at No. 7. Gholston is the more likely candidate depending on where Matt Ryan goes. If Jake Long goes to Miami, and reports have that being close, then Ryan going to Atlanta or Kansas City would likely make is possible for Gholston to slip. Obviously there's no way of knowing for sure until it all plays out, but I think there's a better than average chance that Gholston will be there. As for second-round corners, Reggie Smith, Tracy Porter, Terrell Thomas and Brandon Flowers could fall into that range. I like Thomas out of USC because he showed some aggressiveness and tough man-to-man skills.
Paul Perillo

It has been listed 17 prospects have had pre-draft visits to Gillette. This may not be all since there are up to 30 allowed. A few questions: how are some known and others not? Also in recent years, have the Patriots drafted prospects (in the first 2 rounds) who had not visited? Albert and Clady were not on the list.
A. Stebbins

I wouldn't put to much stock into whether or not the Patriots had a pre-draft visit with a prospect. In one way or another, the team talks to pretty much every player – whether it be on campus, at the Combine or in Foxborough. Some agents like to divulge where their prospects are visiting and some players themselves do the same. Others keep the visits more private. Logan Mankins did not visit with the Patriots back in 2005 and he wound up being their first-round pick. James Sanders, who was chosen in the fourth round the same year, did come to Foxborough for a visit.
Paul Perillo

Are they keeping Brandon Meriweather or giving him up? I can't tell. Do you think if given the possibility he could be a sleeper like, for instance, Tom? I just feel like he wasn't given time to prove himself enough, moving around the field.
Albert Miller

I'm not sure where you got the idea that the Patriots were getting rid of Meriweather. He had a slow start as a rookie but he gradually earned more playing time and by the end of the season was in the regular rotation as part of the subpackages. He will definitely be part of the team's plans, whether at safety or corner, in 2008. If by Tom you mean Brady, no, I don't think he can be a sleeper like that.
Paul Perillo

So if we get stuck with this number 7 pick and we go linebacker, do you like Mayo better than Rivers? You know the Patriots will pick the best guy for their scheme regardless of what the "pundits" say. Remember Richard Seymour wasn't a big name for that No. 6 pick, so if you evaluate the two of them head to head who do you like better?Anthony "LB" Thompson

I like Mayo better than Rivers but not by much. They're pretty even in my mind but most of the experts disagree and believe Rivers is the better prospect. I agree that the Patriots wouldn't care about the experts' opinions, but that doesn't mean they agree with me either. I also don't think either player is worthy of the No. 7 pick, which leads us to a separate problem: who is? In my mind, it's Gholston and hopefully he'll be available. If not, I'd hope one of the defensive tackles (Dorsey or Ellis) slips. Otherwise, I'm trying my best to trade out.
Paul "QB" Perillo

I know Wilfork's contract is coming to an end, but do you think it would be wise for the Patriots to give him an extension before the start of the new season? Last year they gave Ty Warren a five-year extension before the season started keeping him off the free agent market. If Wilfork hits the market he will be snatched up so fast it's not even funny. So should the Pats give him five more years, keep him happy, and not loose the best defensive tackle in the league?Reid McIntyre

I think an extension for Wilfork will be in the works soon, but he still has two years left on his rookie contract so there's no urgency to do so yet. Warren was in the same spot last summer when his extension was announced so perhaps the Patriots will acquiesce and give Wilfork a new contract as well, but even if they don't I can't see them allowing him to hit the free agent market in two years. Wilfork is the key to the Patriots talented defensive line and nose tackles with his athleticism are awfully tough to find. I don't see the Patriots allowing him to walk.
Paul Perillo

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