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Ask PFW: draft recap

This week's mailbag features plenty of draft-related questions and more Corey Dillon reaction.

The Pats have a lot of talented defensive players who can be starters on a bunch of teams, how will Bill Belichick split up playing time so that they all get a considerable amount? Also the WRs are really good and there are a lot of them with the return of David Patten, how will Bill divide his playing time? Will Jarvis Green get a chance to start? I like his stuff.

Max Margulis
Hauppauge, N.Y.

One of the things Belichick talks about often is the Patriots being comprised of football players, not starters and backups. Understanding the team had a ton of injuries to deal with last year, but the Patriots got contributions from 18 or 19 different defensive players. If everyone stays healthy, that number probably won't get quite as high, but you can bet he and Romeo Crennel will work as many quality players into the lineup as they can. Same goes for Charlie Weis on offense with Patten and the receivers. The better question with that group is who is going to make the team. It appears an established veteran could get cut depending on the young guys' development.
Paul Perillo

Do you think that maybe Belichick & Co. are a little concerned with the progress of Daniel Graham which forced them to go for a tight end so high in the draft?

Peter Bassignani
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

That's a pretty popular opinion and Belichick flatly denied that after the draft. Graham has struggled holding onto the ball occasionally as a receiver, but his blocking is excellent. My opinion of Watson's drafting is that it had to have something to do with Graham. Fauria is in the final year of his contract and he's 32. He won't likely be back next year, but they could either re-sign him or pick up a similar player in free agency. But I'm wondering if the Patriots feel Watson might be able to do some of the things they hoped Graham would – stretch the defense down the seam and create mismatches in the secondary. Graham does that but doesn't always catch the ball. Maybe Watson can become the big-time threat in the passing game while Graham is used more as a blocker.
Paul Perillo

Who was the host of PVN before Brian Lowe?

Atlanta, Ga.

There was no PVN before Brian Lowe. In fact, Brian Lowe is PVN, along with trusty editor Bob Doyle. Before that, Brian's brother Derek helped out occasionally until he signed to pitch for the Red Sox. Actually, not so long ago the immortal Dave Querzoli was the host of PVN, a post he held from 1999-2003.
Paul Perillo

The Patriots and Broncos don't play this season so if both teams go undefeated who gets home field advantage in the playoffs?

Boston, Mass.

Getting a little ahead of ourselves aren't we? Predicting undefeated seasons for not one but two teams? Anyway, if both finish 16-0, it would come down the fourth tiebreaker – strength of victory. Whichever team played the toughest schedule would take the top seed.
Paul Perillo

Now that the Patriots have three good tight ends, do you see them using a three tight end set. Say in the red zone where the Patriots had problems last year?

Ryan Pickup
Batavia, Ill.

Since the Patriots used a lot of three tight end sets last year with Fred Baxter and even Mike Vrabel in the Super Bowl, I would expect them to do so now with Fauria, Graham and Watson. Belichick said after the draft how Watson gives them a lot of formation flexibility and I'm sure Charlie will be staying up nights thinking of different ways to use his new toys.
Paul Perillo

I wasn't a big fan of the Patriots draft. Vince Wilfork was one of the few picks I liked, though we had a chance at Steven Jackson, but that's a different story. I don't believe drafting the BPA is the way to go when you need to fill a need. Watson may be a force in this league, but I'd still rather a force in this league that fills a need. Marquise Hill may fit the scheme, but we have enough DEs to build an army of them. The safeties that we picked were probably too early and aren't even that big. Our secondary lacked size, and I still think it does. Christian Morton is one of the other picks I like because of his size/speed ratio. I hope I'm proven wrong and every pick turns out to be great. But I'll never like the Hill pick, better players were on the board, and there's not going to be enough time to get all of our D-line players on the field in a game. I'm sure you disagree with some of this, maybe all of it, but I want to know which parts you really disagree with.

Chicopee, Mass.

Wow Dan, you certainly don't fall in line with the majority of the posters on this board. I guess you haven't heard the party line … IBWT … In Bill We Trust. As for your critique of the draft, you're right – I agree with some and disagree with others. The first thing I strongly disagree with you about is the BPA, which I assume means best player available. I firmly believe that's the best way to draft and I really think Belichick/Pioli have done a great job of that. Now, if there's a player who plays a position of need rated slightly below one who plays one you have a lot of depth at, then you take the position of need. Otherwise, stick to your ratings or you'll end up looking like Bobby Grier and the pathetic drafts between 1997-99.

As for the individual criticisms … I think you make some decent points. I'm not in love with the Hill pick either. Based on what I've read (we'll have to wait to see him play for ourselves before making a final determination) he was a bit of a reach in the second round. I'm skeptical of defensive linemen that are that tall (6-6) because sometimes they stand up and let blockers get into their bodies. But Seymour is pretty tall and he obviously doesn't have any trouble in that department so I guess I'll reserve judgment.

I also didn't love the Watson pick, even though I do think he will be a pretty good player. I just didn't think an extra tight end made a lot of sense in the first round. The safeties … I like Scott but not Reid, but both were highly productive college players and should at least contribute to special teams. Scott seems to be more in the Patriots mold with his versatility to play different spots while Reid seems to be a Rodney Harrison type (close to the line, run stopper, etc) only much smaller. That makes me wonder if he can play that style in the NFL.
Paul Perillo

Between Cloud, Dillon and Cobbs, have the Pats assembled a little subculture on their roster? I assume that most of you remember about seven starters of the 1985 team. Some of you may even remember the "Order of the Water Buffalo" on the 1977 Red Sox that was heavily concentrated in the pitchers. Are you as concerned about that particular assembly of persons as I am? Three guys with similar past problems all playing the same position?

Ken Howes
Oak Lawn, Ill.

At the risk of sounding like a Kool-Aid sipper, I really don't share the same concerns. Obviously, I do have my reservations about Dillon, not necessarily for what he might do but for what he's done. (Based on the dozens of rocket shots Andy and I have received on the topic most of you disagree with us. It's nice to see at least one person who cares about the people he's rooting for). But Cloud and Cobbs are nowhere near the same case. Cloud was suspended for taking a contaminated protein powder. That doesn't mean he did drugs. It would be the same thing as you or me taking a vitamin and then finding out it contained something that was on the league's banned substance list. It's wrong, and he was suspended for it, but it isn't exactly the most egregious offense. Cobbs was caught with marijuana three years ago and has been tested once a week since and hasn't had any slipups. Again, it was wrong and he was punished, but it appears to be a one-time thing.

That said, I understand your concerns here. The 1985 team self-destructed under a bevy of drug abuse and I am old enough (unfortunately) to remember the 1977 Red Sox with Bill Lee, Jim Willoughby, Reggie Cleveland and the rest of the dope smokers. It would be disappointing to see such a good team spoiled by such preventable external factors as these. I just don't think Cloud and Cobbs fall into such a category.
Paul Perillo

When the Pats signed Josh Miller everyone on TV got all excited and I wonder why. His average distance last year was only 1 yard more than Walter. I am not very fond of this move but how can I question Bill and Scott?

Attleboro, Mass.

I'm not sure where you're getting your numbers from, but Miller's gross average was 4 yards better than Walter's and his net average was almost 3 yards greater. And Miller finished sixth in the AFC while Walter was 12th. I'd call that a significant upgrade at a position that badly needed one.
Paul Perillo

Do you think that P.K. Sam can develop to be a productive wide receiver for the Patriots, much the way fellow late-round receiver David Givens has?

MK Moravek
University Park, Pa.

MK, I think PK will do OK as a WR with the NEP. I'm just not sure how long it will take him to develop. From what I saw at rookie mini-camp, which is very little considering the players aren't in pads and it's just the rookie, Sam has excellent hands and size. He's not extremely fast but did appear to be quick off the line and into his routes. If he can make the same type of commitment to improve that Givens did, there's no reason he can't be an eventual contributor.
Paul Perillo

I'm a college student at NYU, but I'm from Boston. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable on the draft, so I have a couple of questions.1. By drafting Marquise Hill have they given up on Ty Warren?2. By drafting Watson have they already given up on Graham?3. With the depth on defense shifting from linebacker (last year) to d-line this year, are they planning on going back to the 4-3 and would Seymour, Marquise Hill, and Jarvis be fast enough to play outside at end?4. Did they draft Hill for negotiating leverage with Seymour after next season?5. Why no offensive line help in the whole draft?6. In retrospect, wouldn't it have been better to have traded for Corey Dillon on draft day considering we could have drafted Wilfork at 21, traded the 32nd up a few spots with our 3rd and 4th rounders to grab Stephen Jackson, drafted safety Sean Jones from Georgia in the 2nd round (the pick we traded to the Bengals) and then finally drafted Marquise Hill given that Jackson fell so far?7. Do you know if there were any offers to the Pats to acquire Ty Law to help them move into the top 10? (DeAngelo Hall or Sean Taylor would have looked great in Blue, Silver, and Red)8. Where do you see Law going if we trade him and what type of compensation do you see us getting?9. Aren't Dillon's numbers a little inflated considering he's been running behind Willie Anderson and Levi Jones all these years, whereas he'll be running behind one of the worst run blocking lines this year?None of these questions were intended to be pessimistic. I'm a huge Pats fan and I have the utmost confidence that we will be at the top of the AFC East fighting for the fourth Lombardi Trophy in three years, but some of the decisions just didn't make complete sense to me. These comments are not doubting the decisions Scott Pioli or Belichick have made, but based on the last couple years, it seems that they do much better with late round picks (see Brady, Givens, Pass, Koppen, Samuel, Klecko, Davey) but recent first-day selections have left a little to be desired (Graham, Warren, Klemm, Randall, Williams).

A Curious Fan

That's it? Those are all the questions you could come up with? Don't you want to know who's going to win the battle for the backup long snapper position? Seriously, as Crash Davis said at the mound during "Bull Durham," "we're dealing with a lot of sh** here."

  1. I don't think drafting Hill has much to do with Warren. The Patriots use a lot of defensive linemen and if both turn out to be solid players both will get plenty of time.
  1. As I indicated in an earlier answer, I do think there is some correlation with Watson and Graham. While I don't necessarily think it means they've given up on Graham altogether, I do feel they might want Watson to do some of the things they hoped Graham would do.
  1. Belichick and Crennel want to be flexible in their fronts. They want to have the ability and manpower to play either set, and adding to the depth up front helps that. I do wonder if Hill and Green are capable of playing end in a 4-3, which is much different than end in a 3-4. Seymour, I think, is good enough to do just about anything the coaches ask him.
  1. No. Hill would have to be quite a steal in the second round to potentially be able to fill Seymour's shoes. Plus., Seymour's contract doesn't run out until after the 2006 season.
  1. Good question. My only guess would be they didn't feel the value was there. I was very surprised that picks were used on offensive linemen, and mildly so that they didn't use the second first-rounder to pick one. Maybe Belichick feels comfortable with some of the young guys that are returning like Neal, Soriano, Gorin, Provost, etc.
  1. Sure, and maybe we could have picked the right lottery numbers if we knew them beforehand. You're scenario makes a lot of sense and it would likely have been received well in these parts had it played out that way. The problem is, there was no way of knowing Wilfork and Jackson were going to be available and no way of guaranteeing Cincinnati would be willing to do the deal on draft day. The Bengals may have said no and shopped Dillon elsewhere. And it may have cost more than a third-rounder to move up from 32 to take Jackson if and when he was available. But overall, assuming things worked out the way you said, you're draft Saturday would have been very attractive for the Patriots.
  1. As far as I know, the Patriots were never interested in making such a jump. Whether or not they were specifically asked to do so I'm not sure. My guess is they received inquiries and Ty Law was probably involved. But to jump from 21 into the top 10 would have required quite a bit, and I don't think Belichick was willing to do that.
  1. My guess is they'd like to get a 2005 first rounder in exchange for Law. I have absolutely no idea where he might go. If I had to say right now, Ty is playing corner for the Patriots in 2004.
  1. That's the first time I've heard Dillon might not be as good as his number indicate because he played for Cincinnati. It's usually the other way around. But as you pointed out, the Bengals actual did have a pretty good offensive line. But guys as talented as Dillon will pick up yards regardless. The bigger concern with him, in my opinion, is age. Has the wear and tear of those 300-plus carry seasons caught up with him? We'll find out.

Just as a clarification, in your final point about the first-day picks, Randall was actually a fourth-round pick so he counts as a second-day selection … and a pretty good one at that since he started every game for a Super Bowl champ.

Now I need a rest. I feel like I just wrote a college thesis!
Paul Perillo

Is it just me that is noticing that the Patriots seem to favor drafting players from Georgia, LSU and now Illinois. Is it because the systems that these players come from are close to what the Pats run, or do they have a pipeline with the coaches at these schools and get some extra info on these players such as character, work habits etc.?

Mike Purdy
Minot, N.D.

Minot, North Dakota, home of the new head football coach at Northeastern University Rocky Hager.
OK, now that I just lost have of my readers … back to the question. Under Belichick, the Patriots have drafted three players from Georgia (Pass, Seymour and Watson), three from LSU (Davey, Green and Hill) and two from Illinois (Wilson and Morton). There are other schools Belichick has taken more than one player from (Notre Dame, Purdue, Virginia, Texas A&M). In LSU's case, it is definitely related to the coach. Nick Saban was on Belichick's staff in Cleveland and the two are very close. They have a lot of the same mannerisms and philosophies so Belichick knows what kind of player he's getting, and you can throw Michigan State's Greg Randall into that group as well because he played for Saban. The Patriots have also taken quite a few players from SEC schools, the league LSU plays. Obviously Saban can offer input on opposing players as well, and LSU played Illinois in their bowl game three years ago when Wilson and Morton went against talented Tigers receivers like Josh Reed. Saban obviously is able to help Belichick in this regard.
Paul Perillo

I've seen the term the "Wonderlic test" used quite a few times in referring to Ben Watson's intelligence. Could you tell me what exactly this test is and what does is consist of? Also, I think we should give Dillon another chance. Listening to the radio after the trade in a phone interview with him, he really sounded sincerely excited about getting a chance to play on a great team. I think he'll turn things around.

Dave Heifetz
Belmont, Mass.

The Wonderlic is used as a pre-employment screening test. It consists of 50 multiple choice questions that are to be completed in 12 minutes. Each draft candidate takes the test at the combine. It is a cognitive ability exam that companies use to determine which specific jobs might be best suited for an individual.
As for Dillon, you share the thoughts of most of our readers. He'll certainly be getting that second chance with the Patriots.
Paul Perillo

I love hearing the little cracks Andy Hart makes about BrYan Morry and vice-versa, when did this little "competition" begin? Also trying to get a little more info on the Ask PFW hosts … how long have all of you been Pats fans, and who is the most die-hard Pats fan?

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Chestnut Hill, Mass. … what a great place that would be if not for that school with the initials BC. You know the one I'm talking about … the one with the major gambling scandals in not one but two sports.
Sorry for that gratuitous shot, I couldn't help myself.
As for our motley crew … I'm not sure about any little competition between Andy and BrYan. After a while you just sort of tune that nonsense out if you know what I mean. The three of us have been Pats fans most of our lives, although BrYan actually grew up a Dallas fan since he is and always has been a frontrunner. Not surprisingly, he's also the most die-hard Pats fan among us now. Gee, I wonder why that is???
Paul Perillo

You guys never post my questions, and that's cool, but if you could possibly email me this one back I'd greatly appreciate it. Has the NFL and the station that broadcasts Pats games come to any sort of agreement as far as the FieldPass is concerned? Last year I always ended up listening to the games via the opposing team's station. Very frustrating! I know it has to do with who holds rights to what blahblah, but more importantly, have they worked it out? Thanks, and keep up the lame jokes.

Matt Benner
Gainesville, Fla.

Unfortunately there has been no progress on this matter regarding FieldPass and the Internet broacdcast rights for Patriots games. But there is one alternative that will become available this season – satellite radio. A company called Sirius Radio will have the Patriots radio broadcast, complete with Gil and Gino, available this season. For more information, check out Oh, and since you like our lame jokes … I'm serious about this … get it? Serious. As in Sirius Radio.
Paul Perillo

What happened to the Pats sixth-round pick?

Aaron Dollar
Cambridge, Mass.

They had to give it to Pittsburgh as compensation for signing restricted free agent Rodney Bailey.
Paul Perillo

Would it be possible to get some video on PVN of Davey and the other Pats in Europe?

Donald Norman
Marietta, Ga.

Donald, did you know that BrYan with a Y Morry used to live in Marietta? Maybe you guys were once neighbors … sorry for you if that was true. Anyway, Davey and PVN. I'm told by a reliable source close to PVN (OK, it was host Brian Lowe) that Davey highlights would indeed be available on the show in the next couple of weeks.
Paul Perillo

Will the Patriots receive any compensatory picks for the loss of Lawyer Milloy?

Somerville, Mass.

No. Because the Patriots released Milloy they are no entitled to any compensation. If Milloy's contract had run out and he became a free agent and signed elsewhere, New England would likely have received a third-round compensatory pick, the highest the league issues, in return.
Paul Perillo

I've got a question about terminology and the Patriots. Some of my friends refer to the offensive style that the Patriots run as a "West Coast Offense," but I've heard announcers talk about how the Patriots do not run a West Coast Offense. I was under the impression that the West Coast Offense was an offensive style built around the short passing game to replace a power running game, with high percentage quick passes that allow the offense to control the ball. Am I wrong? Isn't this what the Patriots do? Can their offensive style be classified as West Coast, and if not, why not?

Somerville, Mass.

Back-to-back Somerville questions … home of Hog Hannah's Highlanders! And a good question at that. I only wish I had a good answer for you. The manner in which you described the Patriots offense was pretty accurate … control the ball through the air with short, low-risk passes. I've always understood the West Coast offense to be similar to that style. But Belichick has said repeatedly in the past that the Patriots do not run a West Coast offense. I'm not sure what the differences are exactly, but perhaps the fact the Patriots like to spread the field with four- and five-receiver formations sets their offense apart from the West Coast. Maybe if you run into Hannah around town you can ask his obviously much more informed football mind.
Paul Perillo

Sooo tired of hearing about all the drama concerning Corey Dillan's past. Who cares anyway? All these sceptics, including that clown of PFW Radio (Paul Perillo) that says he doesn't want this guy on his team. Question for that guy is Do really think that none of the "charactor players" on this team don't dabble in the party favors?" It'd be pretty ignorant if you say no. Corey just got caught. PFW radio man has probably dabbled in his day too. Just shut up and let him run the damn ball. Re--taaards!

Huntington Beach, Calif.

We're all entitled to our opinions and you obviously have yours and I have mine. But just for clarification purposes, and judging from your writing you could use some clarification, my problems with Dillon have little to do with "dabbling in party favors." I'm much more troubled by the fact that he beat his wife and quit on his team on multiple occasions. I voiced my opinion on acquiring Dillon enough so I don't need to rehash it so I get inundated with more emails next week. I have no problem with being in the minority here. Most fans don't care about what the players do as long as they produce on the field. I care about both. That doesn't make me right. All I can say is I'm glad not everyone shares your thoughts or else this would be a pretty bad place to live. And for the record unless you count beer as a "party favor" I have never "dabbled" in any illegal substances in my life.
Paul Perillo


Al Page
Manchester, N.H.

The Patriots signed Rodney Bailey as a restricted free agent and had to give the Steelers a sixth-round pick as compensation. Hey, weren't you one of the Purple People Eaters from the Vikings?
Paul Perillo

What receiver would you compare yourself to in the NFL?

Daryl Jeannetti
Foxborough, Mass.

Daryl, I can only assume you must have remembered my name from my storied days as a former gridiron great at Everett High School. But I never played wide receiver. I played safety and quarterback. But since you asked, I guess I'd have to say Wayne Chrebet since I'm white and don't have a lot of speed.
Paul Perillo

First, great column. I constantly look forward to it. Second, let's assume that the Patriots intend to keep David Givens, Deion Branch, Bethel Johnson and rookie P. K. Sam. Could you hazard a guess as to which veteran receiver New England would release? Or is it possible to keep Sam on the practice squad or something, letting him develop without releasing either Troy Brown or David Patten? I just keep thinking one of them will be the odd man out, and I have an eerie feeling it could be Troy Brown because of the money he commands.

Coventry, R.I.

First, it is possible to put Sam on the practice squad, although the Patriots would risk losing him to another team since he would have to clear through waivers and be available for anyone to sign. It also depends on how many receivers the team winds up keeping. Also, it depends on everyone staying healthy during training camp. Sometimes these decisions have a way of making themselves. Brown could be the odd man since he makes the most money and is the oldest of the group. But there's a lot of football to be played before such a decision has to be made.
Paul Perillo

Hey PFW, without you I would suffocate during the offseason. As much as I like you guys, something has come up. You answer stupid questions that could be found if you search through the Patriots site. And it looks like you are picking out questions just so you can make a joke about it. Do you have to answer the question just because their name is Brian? Come on. Why not use those spaces for a better cause, for someone with a meaningful question? You guys are my favorite even though I haven't had any of my questions answered yet. I understand that you can't answer every question, but all this has disturbed me. I might as well call myself Brian just to get a question answered. And if this one isn't answered, than trust me, I will call myself Brian. I'll try anything.I'm sick of people in Cincy who call themselves Patriots fans who are warning us of Corey Dillon. I'm not only a fan; I'm a fanatic. Even some New Englanders are doubting Scott and Bill. Only a true Patriots fan is behind Bill and Scott with every move. We were fine without Milloy.

Jeremy Brown
Brunswick, Maine

Brian, I mean Jeremy, if you want to get your questions answered in the future, you might want to actually ask a question. I read through your post a few times and aside from the complaining about not getting your questions answered, you didn't ask one. Your editorial on Dillon is fine. But if we used your theories of not being able to analyze anything Belichick and Pioli do then we'd all be out of a job and there would be no mailbag. Each move must be evaluated separately. Just because the Patriots win the Super Bowl last year and their moves panned out in 2003 doesn't mean that will be the case in 2004. Just as they all worked in 2001 and many failed in 2002 and they failed to make the playoffs. Past performance certainly earns Belichick and his staff the benefit of the doubt and that's what he's getting with regards to Dillon. I've said many times that I feel it was a steal of a trade.
Paul Perillo

Did you get a look at the rookie camp? Anyone impress or surprise you?

Chris Warner
Bronx, N.Y.

It's hard to get a good gauge when the players aren't wearing pads, but P.K. Sam stood out to me. He caught everything in sight and definitely would bring size to the receiving corps if he makes the team. Benjamin Watson looks like a terrific athlete and also showed good hands, although not as good as Sam's. He did have a few drops on both days. It's much tougher for the guys up front to show much in that setting but Wilfork certainly looks the part of a nose tackle.
Paul Perillo

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