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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 16 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 21 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Draft opinions and more

It seems like the majority of Ask PFW emailers didn't like the draft. While the staff is not immune from criticism, it has certainly earned our trust with its decision making and personnel choices.

Has an Aaron Lee Adams ever played for the Patriots?
C Alessi

Nope. According to the Patriots media guide, there has been a Bob Adams, George Adams, Julius Adams and Sam Adams, but no Aaron Lee.

Is there any update on the Brady situation? I hope it's not just shoved into a drawer until a "later time". Please update whatever you can. Thanks.Nathan F.

I don't have an update on the contract negotiations between the team and Tom Brady, but I also do not think it's time to worry yet. It's a negotiation and it can take time. Brady is signed through 2006 so there is time to get a deal done. Obviously, both sides would like to get it done sooner rather than later, but I believe the two sides will find common ground. I don't think it's been tabled. It just isn't being worked out publicly.

Since last years draft included another TE in Ben Watson, do you expect to see more out this guy this year considering he has great speed for a tight end or will he just be another rookie that doesn't stay around? I know that he got hurt last year and should that affect him at all this year? I think he could be a great threat especially with David Terrell being a deep threat and having a speedy TE coming across the middle.
Ethan Robidoux

I expect Watson to make an immediate impact this season. He is very fast for his position and could create some matchup problems. I was impressed by him last summer before he was injured and don't think the injury, which will have almost a full year to heal, will hamper him. His addition, along with Terrell's, gives the Pats a couple of big targets in the passing game in what is now a very well-rounded offense.

Hi guys, sorry to be a stickler, but your info is so good so much of the time that I figured you'd want to set the record straight: Eugene Chung was the Pats last first-round offensive line pick in 1992, not Harlow in '91 as you wrote. Thanks for all your hard work this offseason. You've helped ease my Pats jones.
Chris W.

You are correct in that Chung was the last offensive lineman taken by the Pats in the first round. Chung was the 13th pick in the 1992 draft out of Virginia Tech. Pat Harlow was the 11th pick in the 1991 draft out of USC. But Chung was a guard and the question asked about tackles. Harlow was the last tackle drafted in the first round by the Pats until this season.* (Actually, this is wrong. As our emailers were quick to correct, Damien Woody was the last OL taken in the first round in 1999. Chung is the last guard as Woody was a center. Thanks for correcting that. My bad.)*

Hi, I was wondering with the signing of David Terrell, and the departure of Troy Brown, will P.K. Sam become a punt returner as well, or will he even play for us this season? I was happy last year when we drafted him, but we also have Bethel Johnson who as we all know has speed and will travel. Thanks guys.
Dan Griffen

Sam returned six punts in college and I don't expect him to assume that role in New England. He needs to stay healthy, do whatever is asked of him with reckless abandon and try to get himself some playing time in any way possible or he will not be around long. Sam faces an uphill battle for playing time presumably behind David Givens, Deion Branch, David Terrell and Tim Dwight. Bethel Johnson is ahead of him but needs to elevate his play this season as well. Sam is a bigger receiver who looks to have potential, but he needs to tie his leash to Branch and Givens and shadow them while learning from them. Johnson needs to do the same.

With the help at linebacker/defensive backfield somewhat filled, do you think an unsigned rookie free agent like Ernest Shazor from Michigan could be a possibility, since Randall Gay was in the same position last year? Shazor has the ability to gain more weight and could be a great linebacker.
Ned Haviland

He signed with the Cardinals.

With the Patriots drafting two players that could potentially play either tackle or guard (Mankins and Kaczur), could you please explain what skills make a better guard versus tackle and how their roles on the offensive line differ?
Len LaPadula

Tackles are typically taller and more athletic than guards. They play in space and need excellent feet and quickness to contend with speed rushers off the edge. They also would generally have longer arms to keep a pass rusher at bay. A guard lines up closer to the defensive lineman he will be blocking, essentially nose-to-nose although not always directly nose-to-nose. He operates in more of a confined area and doesn't need the height and athleticism that a tackle would. He needs good power and reactions and will work a lot of combo blocks on the interior, but is generally a shorter, bulkier kind of player. Matt Light is 6-4 while Brandon Gorin and Tom Ashworth are 6-6. The guards are generally shorter. Russ Hochstein and Stephen Neal are 6-4 while Joe Andruzzi is 6-3 and Gene Mruczkowski is 6-2. That 6-4 mark seems to be the cutoff and most prefer tackles to be taller than that. It's why many projected Light as a guard when he came out of college. Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur are both 6-4, which is why many scouts projected them as guards, but Light has proven you can play tackle at that height.

I was really surprised that N.C. State's running back T.A. McLendon was not drafted. I know he had injuries while at N.C. State but the guy was better than Maurice Clarett as a freshman. My question to you guys is, do you think the Patriots will get him as a rookie free agent? I would really love to see him in a Patriots uniform. Keep up the good work guys. GO PATS!
Edgar Paz

The Patriots have apparently agreed to terms with two running backs and two fullbacks as undrafted free agents and he is not among them. I would say that doesn't bode well for his chances. The fullbacks are Matt Phillips out of Edinboro and Kyle Eckel from Navy. The running backs are DeCori Birmingham from Arkansas and Earl Charles from Marshall.

I'm not entirely sure how quickly the undrafted free agents get signed by teams, but I was wondering if you had any insight on who the Patriots might try to bring in? Looking at a few of the players that went undrafted, a guy like Taylor Stubblefield looks like he fits the mold of a Patriots WR. Also CB Brandon Browner went undrafted and I heard he has some potential.
Jay Corbeille

Both of those players signed with other clubs. From what I gather so far through various reports, the Patriots signed Connecticut tackle Ryan Krug, Edinboro fullback Matt Phillips, Arkansas running back DeCori Birmingham, Navy fullback Kyle Eckel, Villanova safety Ray Ventrone, Marshall running back Earl Charles, Wisconsin tackle Mike Lorenz, Cincinnati defensive tackle Mike Wright and Penn State kicker Robbie Gould.

Hi guys, do you have any insight in to why Ernest Shazor the Michigan SS was not drafted? He is 6-4, 226lbs, does not have any injury history. In 35 games with the Wolverines, he was credited with 166 tackles (125 solos) 87 of those coming in 2004, three sacks for minus-23 yards, 19 stops for losses of 72 yards, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also had four interceptions for 123 yards in returns and a touchdown and deflected 10 passes. This kid is not only big, he has 4.4 speed in the 40!! He also was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. With some weight gain he could be converted to LB, if needed. I really like this kid and think the Patriots should take a look at him as an UFA.
Sebastian Payne

Well he signed with the Cards as I said previously. But I can't figure this one out. He ran a 4.65 in his workout, not a 4.4, but is 6-3 1/2 and 228 pounds. I think he's a tweener, which hurt him, but to go undrafted? I have to think there is something else there that we don't know about. He's probably too tall to play safety and not bulky enough to play linebacker in the NFL, but again, undrafted? I'm at a loss here. I'm guessing he is shocked by his free fall as well.

I know you are probably getting swamped by Patriots fans asking why we even bothered to pay attention this year to the draft, but I figure the ten plus years I have followed the Pats gives me the right to complain too. I sat for I don't know how many hours waiting to see who the Pats would draft, and I feel like it was a lot of wasted time. We draft in the first round a Guard. And then after that another offensive lineman. And only three people we drafted were for the D. Two QBs? Now we have 5 of those....And Corey Webster ends up with the Giants. What happened this year, it's like the Patriots didn't even want to draft anyone. We just kept giving and trading away picks. And when we did use them, they didn't make any sense. This sucks.
Mike Kowalczyk

Gee Mike, I'm sorry that Bill Belichick didn't check with you to make sure he was drafting players that would excite you. I think the Pats project Logan Mankins at tackle because I just don't think they would take a pure guard in the first round. I'm sticking to that almost out of stubbornness, but I truly believe it. But offensive linemen don't make for exciting picks. This I understand, but they are also needed pieces of your team. Two QBs? Did I miss something? They drafted one QB in the seventh round and now have four, but who's counting. It's OK to come in and criticize the draft, but c'mon, that's not any analytical analysis. That sounds like whining. You don't like drafting O-lineman because after six hours of waiting, it's deflating. Then you have a fact wrong on the QBs, which I understand we all make mistakes (me as much as anyone), but you're ranting and using foul language and you're wrong. As far as giving away picks, the Pats felt the draft was weak and parlayed some picks into next year when they have more value. I admit that waiting six hours for an offensive lineman you probably never saw play is disappointing, but don't judge the draft by that. Thanks for the opinion Mike. Keep em coming.

I think like most people, I was very surprised and kind of disappointed with the Patriots draft. We had chances to grab some big playmakers and we passed by them. Why would the Pats pass over someone like Brodney Pool? And Brandon Browner? He's a fast 6-4 corner and I heard he could've gone high. Same with Ernest Shazor. I think the Pats missed some real good opportunities to improve that secondary. We probably still could've got Mankins at the end of round 2.
Corey Fink

Keep in mind that Browner and Shazor went undrafted. So no NFL team thought of them like all the scouting services or like you. If you want to argue for Pool, you can make a debate. He was a high pick at what could be deemed a need position. He was a top prospect. The Patriots don't believe Mankins would have been there at 64 and in fact, feared that San Francisco might take him at 33. I was surprised when they drafted Mankins as well, and if he is career guard, I will question the pick. I just don't believe guards need to be drafted that high and I think the Patriots have proven that. While Bill Belichick is very open-minded, I don't think he feels that he needs to draft a guard in Round 1. That's why I think Mankins will play tackle at some point even if he starts his career at guard. They like Ellis Hobbs, the third round corner they took.

I know, I know- we've all learned the lesson hundred times- don't second-guess Bill Belichick. But Logan Mankins- really? I'm sure he'll be a starter for years but given the Patriots success in plugging just about anybody into the line and getting success, doesn't this pick seem like a waste? With Brodney Pool on the board, we could have taken him and moved Eugene back to corner and had Asante start on the other side or Starks or Ty Poole. Also, isn't there a chance that Mankins would have still been on the board at the end of the second round? Anyway, fingers crossed for a great season- when will the pro shop start selling Mankins jerseys?
Tom Roberts

No love for the Pats picks huh? The Pats do not think Mankins would have been available at 64. And they're probably correct. Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News has what I consider to be the best list of prospects because he formulates it based on the opinions of NFL scouts and he had Mankins rated 44th. I think the Patriots tried to move down a few spots but had no takers so they took the man they wanted with their pick. I didn't think it would be an offensive lineman, but it was certainly a need and if he eventually plays tackle and plays it well, I think it will prove to be a strong pick at the bottom of the round. I thought for sure it would be Corey Webster. I was wrong again.

Not that I mean to question the ingenious and flawless Bill Belichick, but WHAT in the NAME of GOD happened in there?!!! What is the condition of Tedy Bruschi? Is he going to play next year? Cause it's starting to look like it. We had TWO chances to really help our situation at ILB. We could have tried it in the 1st round, but chose to make the LORD OF ALL REACHES by taking Logan Mankins at 32. Then we see Channing Crowder at 64. Still there!!! And we trade it to Baltimore. I like linemen as much as the next guy, but do we REALLY need to reach for one guard when there is a guard of even value available. Maybe Mankins will become Alan Faneca, who knows, but right now it doesn't look good.
Robert M.

Come back off the ledge man. I'm not going on some wild defense of the Patriots pick because I don't know enough about his ability. He is a tough, nasty player who I think Patriots fans will like based on what I've read. He's worked on a ranch and is a humble, rugged country boy with a strong work ethic who would probably be on the professional rodeo tour if not in the NFL. The Pats clearly did not like the top ILB prospects and may have found a second day steal in Ryan Claridge. He is my pick to be the surprise pick of this lot. Picking Mankins at 32 may have been a bit too high, but if he was the guy the Pats wanted and they didn't think he'd be there at 64, then they had to take him. They always talk about need vs. best available, but they obviously felt this was a need pick and they thought the value was still there even if he was a few picks too high. Did they reach? Maybe a little, but given the recommendation from Pat Hill and the so-called intangible qualities this kid has, the Pats felt it was worth it and might have had him ranked higher based on their trusted information. As I said, I was surprised and I am taking a wait-and-see attitude, but the more I read about the kid, the more I like him. I don't know anything about Bruschi's playing status and I respect the privacy surrounding his health that he has requested. He'll tell us about his future when he knows it.

If you were watching ESPN 2 during the draft, there seemed to be no surprises in the first round. Except when New England picked Logan Mankins, a guard, in the first round. Were you surprised that the Patriots went that way early when they were in a desperate need of a cornerback or linebacker? I like the pick but is he going to help New England right away?
Paul Abbene

I have said I was surprised, but I don't think the Pats had a desperate need at any position. Linebacker was probably the biggest need, but the Pats didn't think the value was there on any of the top rated prospects. I think Mankins will help faster than a rookie corner or linebacker would have. I think it's an easier position to step into, especially given the complexity of the Patriots defense. But while I think Mankins will play more and faster than a rookie defender, that doesn't mean I think he was the better pick. He was a solid pick, but I think Corey Webster would have been a solid pick as well. It was unglamorous selection and I think that upset many fans who wanted to replace Ty Law or find the next Ray Lewis. That said, I don't know anything about these players compared with the Patriots scouting department. I just go by what I read. My hunch is that this kid will be a pretty good player for several years. But I haven't seen him play yet, so take my opinion for what little it's worth. I'm reading the same things you are about the pick because I didn't see Fresno State play a game all season.

I haven't heard of any team signing Ty Law yet. Do you know if he has signed somewhere? If not, it seems as if teams are done signing high priced free agents for this year, looking more to trade (Buchanan to Houston, Surtain to Kansas City). If Law cannot get the big payday he has been looking for, is there any chance he could re-sign with the Patriots? Given the fact that we are getting close to training camp and the draft had a lot of quality cornerbacks, is there a possibility that Law will sit out a year? I really hope not and I hope the Pats would consider resigning him if he opens the door.Edward Pare

Law will play somewhere in 2005, but not in New England. I suppose nothing is impossible, but I don't see him returning here. His injury has obviously hurt his free agent stock and is the reason he remains unemployed. My guess is that he plays on a one-year contract and tries to have a good season that he can cash in on next year. But every year is one more north of 30, where it is difficult to reel in big signing bonus money. If Law signs a one-year deal, he will be 32 when he heads to free agency next year. He could be playing for close to the minimum this year unless his foot heals up and he has a terrific workout for a team sitting on salary cap cash. This is easy for me to say with the benefit of hindsight and his foot injury, but I think he should have signed the four-year, $26 million offer made to him by the Pats last season because I will now be surprised if he makes that much over that time period. My guess is that he lands in Pittsburgh. That would stink. I would hate to see him in Steelers colors. I do wish him the best though.

I keep reading that Duane Starks and Tyrone Poole are the starting CBs on the Patriots depth chart and last year's end of season and Super Bowl starters, Asante Samuel and Randall Gay are the 3 & 4 respectively. I can't imagine not starting the guys who played last season and won the Super Bowl for a new man (Starks) who has yet to prove his worth in the Pats system and an average CB (Poole) who hardly played last year. I have to expect this Depth Chart is just the writers' imaginations especially as BB has always said everyone has an equal opportunity to compete for a start. Is there an "Official" BB released depth chart at this point in the season and what do you think of Samuel and Gay as the game 1 starters?
Otis Hill

There is no official depth chart and Bill Belichick never publicly releases one. I think the competition will be intense for those starting jobs this summer, but I do think that Duane Starks and Tyrone Poole will emerge as the starters. Starks will probably open training camp on the second team because he is new to the club, but that should be temporary if he stays healthy. Belichick was complimentary of Poole last year before he was hurt and stated publicly that no other corner had unseated him as the starter. He got hurt and I think he starts training camp with the ones. Samuel probably has a better chance than Gay to crack the starting lineup, but just because they started in the Super Bowl doesn't mean they start the next season as well. Remember Greg Robinson-Randall? So I would say that depth chart is accurate, but certainly open for change. I think whoever plays the best this summer will start the opener. Bill Belichick has no predetermined starter. But who is going to cover Randy Moss? Perhaps the bigger Chad Scott will handle that chore.

Thanks PFW, without you guys the NFL offseason would seem even longer. Anyway, I wanted to know if you could tell me what Ty Law's 40 yard dash time was before we drafted him in 1995. I'd love to know where this Patriot legend would stack up compared to today's new corners. Everyone puts too much stock into the workouts anyway. I'd rather have our Patriots take a football player over a track star. More importantly what do you guys think about our picks? Thanks guys!!!
Shawn Frazier

According to the 1995 Draft Review issue of PFW, Ty Law was timed as fast as 4.39 in his postseason workouts. But I believe one of the local papers called him a slow dwarf. I think the Patriots did fine on draft weekend 2005, but it's so hard to evaluate a draft immediately after it happens. Everyone knows it takes a couple of years to truly know. I especially like the Day 2 picks of Ryan Claridge and James Sanders. The first day kids all seem to fit the Patriots mold and should fit in well. I think the draft, along with some of the free agent signings, made the Patriots a deeper team than its championship predecessors.

Based on the fact that Charlie Weis is now coaching at Notre Dame, and that the Patriots plan to keep his offensive system in place, is it reasonable to expect the Patriots to draft and/or sign a good number of offensive players from Notre Dame in the coming years, similar to the way they took Saban's defensive players from LSU? They have a pretty good quarterback down there who is about to learn the Patriots offense and would seem to be intriguing to the Patriots in an upcoming draft, especially with Belichick's success drafting QB's named Brady.Pat Yegian

I think that makes sense assuming Notre Dame gets some NFL-quality talent into the program. But it will make it easier for the Patriots to scout Notre Dame's kids and they will have a good resource in Weis.

I thought we should have gotten an inside backer in the draft because of Tedy Bruschi's condition. We could use the depth there anyway as the linebacker group is old with a few exceptions. Do you see them signing a veteran linebacker as insurance? Maybe someone like Chad Brown or Rob Morris. Also do you see Tully Banta Cain breaking into the lineup this year?
Ben Libby

They did get an inside linebacker. Ryan Claridge out of UNLV. Chad Brown reportedly visited today so he could definitely sign. Tully will get some more snaps this year, but he's playing behind a steady group of veterans at outside linebacker in Vrabel, Colvin and McGinest. Look for him to make more of an impact in 2006.

I think it's funny that most of the people I know are going nuts that the patriots picked 2 O-linemen on the first day. They felt that ILB and CB where bigger needs, but these are the same people who said the pats should have drafted a O-lineman in the first round the last two years. Shouldn't they be happy? Because before the draft this year the O-line had less depth then in the previous two years!
Mike Cziria

Finally a fan who is not bashing the draft, although I'm not sure what you thought of it.

I have read conflicting reports regarding acquired draft picks for the 2006 draft. Did the Pats acquire 1 or 2 additional picks in the 4th round to go along with the additional 3 & 5 round picks. Also how were they acquired and what teams. Thanks.
Mike Brown

They acquired one additional pick in each of thethird, fourth and fifth rounds of the 2006 draft. That was misreported.

Please explain what the Wonderlic exam is. How did the Pats draftees score on the exam? Is Ben Watson's score the highest possible?

It's a personnel test and the highest possible score is a 50. It's timed and each test taker is given 12 minutes to complete as many of the 50 questions as possible. Watson's 41 was impressive. Three of this year's picks weren't at the Combine and didn't take the test. Mankins scored a 31, Hobbs a 15, Kaczur a 29 and Claridge an 18.

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