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Ask PFW: Draft countdown is on

This week's mailbag covers a variety of topics ranging from the draft to free agency to Patriots history.

What do you think of two possible trades: 1.)Ty Law and the No. 32 overall pick to Cleveland for their first-, third- and fourth-round draft picks? 2.) Law to San Diego for their first-round pick next year and a third-rounder this year?
Jon Robles
Five Points, Calif.

First, I hope Ty Law doesn't go anywhere but the Patriots secondary in 2004. But if the team feels it must trade him, I like your proposals. Now, I'm not sure the Browns or Chargers would be all that enthused about them. It seems teams are becoming more and more reluctant to deal first founders – even for All-Pros like Law. The Cleveland package seems more fair than the Chargers since San Diego figures to once again be drafting in the top 10, maybe even top five. It always hard to determine what packages would be fair in these kinds of trades when they involve players. How big a need is cornerback for the Browns and Chargers? How much of a factor is Law's age? What's the availability in the draft for the positions the teams are looking for? From afar, I could see San Diego making the deal straight up, Ty Law for a first rounder in 2005 – no third rounder thrown in. As for Cleveland, that seems like too much to give up. There's a big difference between the seventh pick and the 32nd pick, and then you're leaving the Browns with just one other pick on Day 1 of the draft. I can't see that happening but you never know.
Paul Perillo

What is the latest round that someone currently in the NFL has been taken in?
Wayne, Neb.

To the best of my knowledge, the 12th-round is the answer to your question. The draft was 12 rounds from 1977-1992. Since then, it was shortened to eight rounds in 1993 and down to the current seven the following year. Tampa Bay wideout Keenan McCardell was a 12th-round pick for Washington in 1991 and he's still active, which makes that round the latest any current player was selected in.
Paul Perillo

As all loyal Patriots fans know we have the NFL opening game at Gillette Stadium Sept. 9, 2004. The NFL has decided not to have an opening concert. When I was reading the new Draft Day PFW, I saw Howard Balzer's article and I was excited when he suggested the Boston Pops perform because if memory serves me correctly they played in Super Bowl XXXVI. Bob Kraft may use his influence to have the Boston Pops do a concert during a pregame show. After all they have shown that they can act appropriately unlike some other musician we all know and hate! What's your take on this?
Mike A.
Sharon, Mass.

Actually, Mike, my take is a lot different than yours. I like the entertainment concerts the NFL had been putting together in the couple of years. The Boston Pops are obviously a great local tradition here and are terrific in their own right (and I've seen them in person several times), but if given a choice I'd rather watch a current group/entertainer perform. Unlike the vocal dissenters following the Super Bowl, I didn't find Janet Jackson's performance in Houston to be the end of the world as we know it. It may have stepped over the line but "wardrobe malfunctions" aside, I found it very entertaining. But as is too often the case nowadays, the league will have to kowtow to the PC Police and make sure nothing that could potentially rock the boat will ever happen again. Unfortunately, we can likely look forward to boring, no frills, vapid "entertainment" at the Super Bowl for years to come.
Paul Perillo

Can you explain to me the new rule about DBs not being able to bump the WRs?
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Nothing has changed about the rules; the league is just asking the referees to do a better job of enforcing them. Hitting a receiver more than 5 yards past the line of scrimmage has been a penalty for more than 20 years, and holding a receiver by the shirt has always been a penalty. These are some of the points of emphasis the league's competition committee is asking the officials to look at. There has been some speculation that because Indy's Bill Polian, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher and St. Louis' Mike Martz were all outspoken in their recommendations that there was some anti-Patriots sentiment behind the movement since New England's aggressive, physical style stymied all three in the playoffs in recent years. But as far as any rule changes … nothing has changed.
Paul Perillo

I seem to remember a few years ago the Pats picked up a QB, Major Applewhite. What happened to him? Do we still own his rights? Is he still in football?
Norfolk, Mass.

Applewhite was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2002 but never made it to training camp. He decided to return to school to complete his degree with designs on coaching down the road. The Patriots do not own his rights and if he decided to return to playing, he'd be free to sign anywhere he wished.
Paul Perillo

While no one, least of all me, should question the Belichick/Pioli combination with regards to personnel decisions, is it possible that there may be someone better to look at draft prospects? I can't remember who we picked in the first round three years ago, after that is was Daniel Graham, who hasn't exactly covered himself in glory, and last year, a first-round pick on Ty Warren who has hardly contributed. Was he worth it? And you have my permission to be as sarcastic about me as you wish!
Tom Roberts
Cardiff, Wales

I'm glad you gave me permission to be sarcastic … not that I needed it with that question. No team hits on all of its draft picks, but the Patriots track record under Belichick and Pioli is pretty good. Since you have amnesia and can't remember who the top pick was three years ago, I'll remind you. Ever heard of Richard Seymour? He's only the best player on the team. Graham I agree has yet to live up to expectation, although he has shown signs of emerging as a receiver while being an excellent blocker. Warren I think will be a fine pick. He didn't play much last year but when he did he seemed to get better all the time. I think he'll be more of a factor in 2004. And you conveniently left out the rest of last year's draft class, virtually all of which contributed mightily to the team's success when injuries threatened to derail the season. I realize your over on the other side of the pond so maybe Patriots news travels slow, but questioning the drafts doesn't seem to be a wise move.
Paul Perillo

What did New England give to Miami for Miami's second-round pick (No. 56)?
Providence, R.I.

Special thanks to Ryan for sending in this week's easiest question … the Patriots traded their third-round pick last year to Miami for the Dolphins second-rounder in 2004. Even us idiots at PFW can't screw this one up.
Paul Perillo

Fifteen of the top 20 all-time rushing yardage leaders were first rounders. Six of last year's top 10 were first rounders. Of the four that weren't (Green, Portis, Davis and Holmes), none were considered valuable enough to still be with their original teams. The Portis trade was high profile, and he is a good runner, but what to make of his success in light of Denver's recent record (Davis, Gary, Anderson, Portis) with Alex Gibbs and Bobby Turner coaching? It's been pretty widely stated that the Redskins overpaid (Bailey and a second-round pick!), especially when you realize that the previous coach released Stephen Davis. So please, let's stop repeating the mantra of picking up an elite back in the late rounds (Curtis Martin 3rd, Terrell Davis 6th) because of a few exceptions. It doesn't happen very often.Oh yeah, my questions … Given their success with an average backfield, are the Patriots willing to pay the high dollar amount necessary for an elite back, assuming they needed to move up in the draft to get one? And would they continue to pay top dollar in a second contract, or would we be seeing another Curtis Martin situation?

Mike Walsh
Sandwich, Mass.

Good job, Mike. There's some solid research here. I'm not sure if you had the chance to check out Andy Hart's extensive look at finding a viable running back in the draft that appeared in the current edition of PFW, but he certainly agrees with your assessments. There are some high-profile examples of late-round gems found, but they are few and far between to say the least.
Your question is an interesting one and I'm not exactly sure how the Patriots feel. The fact is they have won two Super Bowls with adequate, not outstanding, play from the running back position. But I'm sure if they had a chance to land a top-flight guy they would. I don't believe they'll trade up to draft a back in this year's draft, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them take one when their turn comes. As for the final part of the question, it's virtually impossible to predict how salary situations will unfold with this regime. Some guys you don't expect to re-sign end up back and others don't. If some rookie running back comes in and sets the world on fire, the Patriots would have a decision to make.
Paul Perillo

OK, guys. I'm really bugged about this one. The best-kept secret in the free agent market right now is Amos Zereoue. Anyone who doesn't know why needs to look at Pittsburgh game footage from 2001-2002, when he was slashing all over the place and grabbing 20 yards at a shot, every down. Why is it that no one, including you guys, realize that he got the raw deal last year by having to start in front of a non-existent offensive line – one that couldn't protect poor Tommy Maddox from a bunch of Pop Warner kids? Pats need to sign this guy.
Lynchburg, Va.

I was certainly a big fan of Zereoue from his days at West Virginia, but to be totally honest I haven't been overly impressed with his as a pro. I think he'd be an upgrade over what the Patriots currently have, but I don't think he's any long-term answer to the team's running woes. He was productive in 2001, averaging 5.4 a carry in limited use. His numbers dropped when his carries increased in '02, and last year he returned to backup status. If the Patriots are unable to select a back in the first two rounds later this month, then I'd take a serious look at Famous Amos. But if Zereoue is as good as you say, why did Pittsburgh re-sign a broken down Bettis and then Duce Staley before letting him loose?
Paul Perillo

What ever happened to Marty Moore? Are the pats still paying Aric Morris? How about Otis Smith?
Biddeford, Maine

Moore played for the Patriots from 1994-99 and again in 2001. Early in the 2001 season, he ruptured his Achilles' covering a punt and spent the rest of that Super Bowl season on injured reserve. The Patriots released him the following offseason and he's been out of football ever since. As an aside, in my five years of dealing with the players, Moore was as fun to deal with as any of them. His professionalism and courtesy was not lost on PFW.

Morris was released last season and is no longer being paid by the organization. Same goes for Otis Smith. The only time teams have to play for players they release is on the salary cap when a released player had received a signing bonus of some sort. The team already paid the player the money, but because the bonus is pro-rated over the life on the contract, there is still some "dead" money on the cap. But in terms of salary, once a player is released he is no longer owed anything.
Paul Perillo

Did the rules committee vote to change overtime? Why not play it as the first team to score 6 points –under that scenario a one-possession field goal can't decide it but a touchdown can, or a FG, a defensive stop and another FG wins it. That seems more like football to me. And, a team winning a playoff game on a one-possession FG seems especially ludicrous.
Brett Proud
Toronto, Ont.

Brett, I'm very Proud of your suggestion. In fact, it seems so logical I can't understand why they haven't adopted your proposal. I share your feeling with regard to the one-possession FG win in OT. Your suggestion seems fair to both sides. That probably means the NFL will never adopt it. So far, the overtime rules remain the same as they've always been since it was instituted back in 1978.
Paul Perillo

When was the last time a quarterback threw for 500 or more yards and if so could you tell me who, when, and who was the opponent?
Nashua, N.H.

Cool question, Mom. When I was growing up, the only questions my mother used to ask me usually had to do with my homework or taking out the trash. The 2003 NFL Record & Fact Book lists the top three all-time single-game passing performances and all three are greater than 500 yards. Los Angeles' Norm Van Brocklin tops the list with 554 yards against the New York Yanks on Sept. 28, 1951. Next is Houston's Warren Moon with 527 against Kansas City on Dec. 16, 1990. Arizona's Boomer Esiason threw for 522 yards on Nov. 10, 1996, against Washington. So I guess Esiason is the answer to your question, Mom.
Paul Perillo

Where can I find out who is in the Patriots Hall of Fame. Nothing can be found on it on the web.Is there any actual physical tribute to those players anywhere?

Jim Britton
Croydon, N.H.

The Patriots Hall of Fame includes 11 players, threw of which are also members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Those three are John Hannah (1973-85), Mike Haynes (1976-82) and Nick Buoniconti (1962-68). The remaining eight include Bruce Armstrong (1987-2000), Gino Cappelletti (1960-70), Bob Dee (1960-67), Steve Grogan (1975-90), Jim Lee Hunt (1960-71), Steve Nelson (1974-87), Vito "Babe" Parilli (1961-67) and Andre Tippett (1982-93). The Patriots have also retired seven numbers: Cappelletti (20), Haynes (40), Nelson (57), Hannah (73), Armstrong (78), Hunt (79) and Dee (89). There is no actual physical Patriots Hall of Fame to visit any tributes to these players but there is a section on under the history link where the players are listed.
Paul Perillo

The Red Sox have retired so few numbers, (Williams, Yaz, Fisk, Doerr & Cronin) and yet the Pats have retired so many with a much shorter history. Is this because the Patriots wanted to depict legitimacy early on, or do we really have 9 great stars with Pats uniforms? Will future retirees be held to a much higher standard? Is there another way for honoring the team's greats, such as, a wall of fame or some sort of shrine in the new stadium? Also, does Gillette run tours like Fenway?
William Trond
Walllingford, Conn.

As I stated in the previous answer, the Patriots have retired just seven numbers; not nine as you stated. It's true the Red Sox have been around a lot longer than the Patriots and it's surprising to see the Patriots with more retired numbers. I personally don't like the idea of retiring numbers in the first place, especially in football where you're dealing with a limited number of available numbers and rosters twice the size as the next closest sport. But seven numbers in 45 years doesn't seem like an overly large number. I don't think the organization was trying to depict legitimacy in any way; I feel they simply wanted to recognize some of their best players. Perhaps there will be some sort of wall of fame in the future but most of those around the league include number retirement so I'm not sure that would solve your "problem."
Paul Perillo

What is the difference between a red-shirted freshman and a true freshman? Also, what is a 5th-year senior? Is he some kind of flunkie or what?
Matt Russo
Wakefield, Mass.

Not only are fifth-year seniors dumb, they're usually forced to wear the red shirts they earned as freshmen that read "Dummie." It's kind of like the Scarlet Letter. Seriously, a red-shirt sits out his first year at a school while a true freshman plays right away. In major college football, true freshmen are rare since most kids coming from high school could use a year to develop before playing at such a high level. The fifth-year senior results from the red shirt, meaning it's his fifth year at the school but his fourth and final year of eligibility.
Paul Perillo

Compensatory selections baffle me. Is there a specific formula for determining them? From what I've heard it depends on how many free agents you lose versus how many you sign with the "quality" of each determining how high a pick is given. How do they determine quality? Would this aspect of player movement ever come into play when BB/Pioli are making decisions? I thought that one team this year got a third-round selection, which can be very valuable. Could we be looking at a third rounder next year with the loss of Woody, Washington, Akins and Compton?
Andrew Stebbins
Woburn, Mass.

The formula is much like you said … it's based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. Not every free agent signed or lost is covered by the formula. A guy like Woody could potentially give the Patriots a third-round pick in return, depending on the remaining free agents the team signs between now and the start of the season. Washington, given his age, may not provide as much. The other two will likely cancel out the Keith Traylor and Josh Miller signings, but this isn't an exact science.
Paul Perillo

How did Tom Brady slip to the sixth round when he was drafted? He was a star at Michigan … 20-5 as a starter, two All-Big Ten selections, broke six Michigan passing records, undefeated in bowl games and overtime games … and what quarterbacks get drafted ahead of him? Giovanni Carmazzi, Hofstra, 49ers and Spergon Wynn, SW Texas State, Browns. Do the scouts even watch films?
Grand Rapids, Mich.

That's a little harsh, don't you think Craig. Questioning whether the scouts watch film. Let me ask you this question … how many times did you see Carmazzi play in college? I can bet the 49ers scouts saw him a lot more than you did. He was an excellent quarterback at the Division 1-AA level, the same level former NFL MVPs like Rich Gannon (Delaware) and Kurt Warner (Northern Iowa) played. Carmazzi hasn't worked out in the NFL, and obviously neither has Wynn while Brady has blossomed into one the league's best.

But there are a few reasons Brady slipped to the sixth round despite a solid career at Michigan. First, he split time during much of his senior season with Drew Henson, causing teams to wonder why that was the case. And not to nitpick, but your descriptions of his Michigan career are a bit misleading … he was a second-team all conference pick after his senior year and an honorable mention selection his junior year. That's not exactly a two-time All-Big Ten selection as you said. As for his 20-5 record as a starter, do you remember a guy named Michael Bishop? He went 22-3 in his two years as a starter at Kansas State and finished second in the Heisman voting and he couldn't play a lick at the NFL level. Brady obviously fooled all the scouts but to question the preparation that goes into the draft seems a bit harsh.
Paul Perillo

I've asked this question once already, but would really appreciate a response to it. We've mentioned LaDainian Tomlinson a few times, and you have always responded to it as a pipe dream to acquire him. But look at San Diego's past. They've released or traded Junior Seau, Rodney Harrison, David Boston, Raylee Johnson, Marcellus Wiley, John Carney. It seems to me that any time they find a good player they try to get rid of him. Maybe we CAN get LT for the right deal?
New York, N.Y.

First, let's remember the old PFW standby and not whine when your questions don't get answered every week. We try. Second, nothing's impossible. The Chargers might be willing to part with their best player, but I assume you're asking what our opinion is, and in this case, my opinion, and I feel it's a pipedream. All of those players you mentioned above, with the exception of Boston, were older and nearing the end of the line. (Boston problems were obviously different). Their salaries were getting to the point where the team was having a hard time dealing with the cap numbers. Tomlinson is young and is still on his rookie contract. His salary is starting to escalate but he's signed through 2005. He is the kind of player a team can build around so I would be surprised if San Diego deals him.
Paul Perillo

What's the minimum number of D-linemen required at the line of scrimmage prior to the snap? Has a 2-5 defensive formation ever been deployed?
Ah Choo
Medway, Mass.

There are no minimum requirements for defensive linemen so a team can choose to have none if it wants. In fact, the Patriots did just that on a couple of snaps in their win at Buffalo in 2002. The offense is required to have seven men on the line of scrimmage, but not the defense. And God bless you.
Paul Perillo

I would be having withdrawal symptoms without you. Don't you believe Jeff Fisher, Mike Martz and Bill Polian are crybabies by going to the league about the Patriots because the Patriots beat them up the last two years and they are jealous?
Tom Jones
Carson, Calif.

Nice of you to take time out from your gig in Vegas Tom, but I'm sorry to say that I disagree with you. I've been a Patriots fan my whole life and I'm still upset about the roughing the passer call against Ray Hamilton in 1976 against Oakland. When questionable calls effect a game, I don't look at it as being a crybaby or jealous. Officiating is part of the game, for better or worse, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be allowed to question it.
Paul Perillo

The starting Super Bowl offensive line still has one member not signed according to my tracking. Has Tom Ashworth signed? It is vital that we keep those guys who have been there and done that! Not that there can't be improvement, but Ashworth can play both tackle and guard and will be an inexpensive O-lineman.
H Dolan
Ossipee, N.H.

Fear not, H, Ashworth was retained. He was an exclusive rights free agent and the Patriots only had to make him a qualifying offer to keep him, which they did. But I'm not so sure Ashworth could play guard. I suppose he could if he had to, but he's been a tackle his entire NFL career and played some tight end in college. As far as I know he's never played guard.
Paul Perillo

I have seen little of Bethel Johnson but what I have seen shows he is very fast. How productive do you think he will be in 2004?
Boston, Mass.

Johnson should remain one of the most explosive kick returners in the game in 2004. Beyond that, he'll probably get more opportunities as part of the regular offense and could be a home run threat the way he was periodically in 2003. I'd expect his production to increase after an offseason in the Patriots program.
Paul Perillo

I love watching Mike Cloud in action, think his timing is great. But why was he suspended?
Vineyard Haven, Mass.

Cloud was suspended at the start of last season fro violating the league's substance abuse policy, which he says was due to his use of a contaminated energy supplement.
Paul Perillo

Do you think Dan Klecko could lose a little weight to improve his quickness and become an effective middle linebacker?
Sanford, Maine

I think he'd have to gain an awful lot of quickness to do that. My guess is Klecko will be used situationally as a pass rusher – both as a linebacker and a lineman – but I don't see him becoming a full-time linebacker. He's considered to be quick for a defensive lineman, but not necessarily for a linebacker.
Paul Perillo

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