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Ask PFW: Draft talk heating up

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Defensive lineman Vernon Gholston of Ohio State runs a drill at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 25, 2008. AP Photo.

All of the focus on the Patriots improving their secondary seems to be on the cornerbacks. What about the safeties? Rodney Harrison is going to be 35 and is James Sanders really the answer at FS? The Ravens are coming off of a 4-12 season, have a new coach and seem to be in a rebuilding mode. What do you think of trying to acquire Ed Reed for draft picks? He's 30 years old, a former defensive player of the year and Bill Belichick raves about him. A safety tandem of Harrison and Reed would greatly improve the secondary.Gary Goldstein

I'm all for acquiring Ed Reed. Where do I sign? The only problem I see is that the Ravens wouldn't do it in a million years. You said he's 30-years old. So what? Do you want to unload Adalius Thomas? He's the same age. Reed is one of the top five best defensive players in the NFL. There is no way Baltimore will trade him when they can build its defense around him. Besides, in today's NFL a team can win four games one season and make the playoffs the next. If the Ravens want to trade Reed I'm all for it but I wouldn't hold your breath on that one.
-Tom Casale

Are there any chances of picking up Owen Schmitt in the draft? I live in West Virginia and I watched him play the last two years and he looks like the kind of player the Patriots would want. He's a tough player and only he's only been tackled for a loss four times in his career and he's busted nine facemasks. Thanks a lot. Big Fan Keep Up The Good Work!Zack Ross

I'm a big Owen Schmitt fan. It depends on where he's going to be drafted because fullbacks don't have as much value these days but let's say he's on the board in Round 4. I think that would be a great fit for the Patriots. New England has Heath Evans, and he can do a lot of things for the team, but he's not a great blocker. Schmitt is a bulldozer who can help open things up for Laurence Maroney is power-running packages. I'm a believer that you still need a fullback on your team that can block and that's one area where the Patriots could use an upgrade, so I think drafting Schmitt makes a lot of sense.
-Tom Casale

Why is there no mention of Michael Richardson? He was on IR last season. Do you think he is in the mix?
Karen Grove

I think "in the mix" is the best way to describe Richardson, Karen. For some reason, many of our e-mailers think Richardson is the second coming of Ty Law. He's a guy who will battle for one of the final defensive back spots on the roster but he's far from a lock to make the team. And for those who think Richardson is going to battle for a starting job, send me the key to the fantasy world you live in because I could use a break from reality.
-Tom Casale

Do you think the Pats will trade down to get more picks in the draft to address their needs? I think that if they stay in the top ten, they should definitely take Vernon Gholston to play OLB. If he's not available, they should trade down to get Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He seems like the most skilled player at that position in the draft and also LOVES playing corner. He'd add size to the secondary and has great hands. He comes from a smaller school but that didn't stop BB from taking Asante a few years ago. How does DRC as a Pat sound?
Brian Reyes

I was wondering what you guys think the chances are we keep the 7th pick overall. I keep hearing all these rumors of people we would draft, but I don't see BB ever drafting anyone at #7 with the exception of Gholston. It seems that paying a rookie the money we would have to pay at #7 goes against BB's philosophy. I just see too many teams looking to move up and draft a McFadden or someone like that and with no "elite" corner in the draft it makes no sense to keep the pick. We have had numerous successful drafts by picking at 32 so I think it would be a smarter investment to trade down and accumulate more picks this year or next. What are your thoughts??

P.S. Tell Andy he can make fun of my last name as long as he posts my question
Brian Tweedie

First off guys, Rodgers-Cromartie has a LONG way to go before he's a starting NFL corner. Does he have great speed? Yes. Is he an incredible athlete? Yes. Does he have a lot of upside? You bet. However, Rodgers-Cromartie is extremely raw right now. On tape, you see him getting beat like a dog by inferior receivers at times. And Brian, you said he loves to play corner? What does that mean exactly? Are you telling me that Mike Jenkins and Antoine Cason don't love to play corner? Rodgers-Cromartie is a promising talent but some team is going to vastly over-draft him and my guess is that team won't be the Patriots.

The Patriots aren't going to draft McFadden, so let's get that out of the way first. If they stay at seven and Gholston is on the board, I'm all for selecting him. What have we been saying for the last five years? The Patriots need to get younger and faster at linebacker. Well, here's your guy. Gholston is a beast coming off the edge and anyone who has seen Ohio State play Michigan the past two years knows Gholston abused Jake Long each time. To me, Gholston makes the most sense at seven. He can come in as a rookie and get after the quarterback while he learns the Patriots system. However, I don't think Gholston will be there when the Pats are on the clock.

And don't worry Brian, Andy did make fun of your name and then laughed at his own joke.
-Tom Casale

Why don't the Pats look to the CFL? There is a right tackle for BC named Jason Jimenez, who has been on Packers and Raiders practice squads, and has started for the last two seasons in BC. He is a monster (6'7" - 335) and is just the type of player that the Pats are looking for. He plays a little tall, but has a lot of talent. Any chance of looking in that direction for help? He's only 26 as well and has a lot of years ahead of him.
Robert Smith

Robert,
The Pats look everywhere for talent. My guess is their scouting department knows about every single player in the CFL. All NFL teams have scouts who specifically follow that league and look for potential players. I'm not sure if the Patriots are interested in the player you mentioned but my guess is they already know everything about him.
-Tom Casale

If Seau isn't going to return for another season wouldn't it be smart for the Pats to move Adalius Thomas in, and maybe draft a guy like Keith Rivers to play as outside?Kristoffer Lundstedt

I really like Rivers and I think he could actually play inside for the Patriots. He showed a lot of versatility on film and if Gholston isn't available when the Patriots draft, I could see them taking Rivers. I prefer Thomas on the outside, so I wouldn't move him around to make room for a rookie. The more likely scenario in my opinion would be to keep Thomas on the edge and make Rivers an inside linebacker, a position I don't think he would have any trouble playing in the NFL.
-Tom Casale

Everyone is complaining saying that the loss of Samuel was the end of our secondary and we need to find a big time player to replace him or we are in trouble. Do they forget Samuel only played one side of the defense and didn't move around? The other team just had to stick their No.1 receiver on the other side, and we handled it just fine. We have always been a team that filled spots with players and didn't need the "big name" guys. Do you think this is still the case, or are the rumors true?
Aaron Nickerson

If you don't think losing a player of Samuel's caliber is a big deal, you're in denial. We get to watch a lot of players here at PFW and to a man, we all think Samuel is one of the top two or three corners in the NFL right now. I think the Eagles are a perfect fit for him and I expect to see Samuel return to the Pro Bowl next season. You said the Patriots don't need the "big name" guys at corner. I'm just curious, didn't Ty Law used to play corner for them? How many Super Bowls have they won since they lost one of the best corners I've ever seen? Hey, I'm sure Bill Belichick will find a way to replace Samuel because he's a great defensive coach but don't tell me you would rather have Jason Webster and Lewis Sanders. Samuel helped take away one side of the field for the most part. No other corner currently on the Patriots roster has the ability to do that and it's not even close.
-Tom Casale

Are the Patriots looking to trade down? What are some teams that you think would be interested in trading up to the 7 spot?
Cole Wiegmann

I'm not sure what team exactly Cole but the player I think is vital to the Pats trading down is Rashard Mendenhall. A lot of teams have Mendenhall rated ahead of Darren McFadden and his draft stock is soaring. I expect Mendenhall to be drafted in the top ten and if McFadden goes before the Patriots pick, there will be some teams looking to trade up and get him. One team to watch for is Philadelphia. They have been very active this offseason and they've been searching for a bigger back to go along with Brian Westbrook. The combination of Westbrook and Mendenhall would be scary. But either way, Mendenhall is the player I think we have to watch for because I believe there will be some teams trying to trade up and get him.
-Tom Casale

I think the Pats should trade the no. 7 overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons for Steve Boley and one of their second round picks. This could lead Atlanta to a Ryan and McFadden combination with the number 3 and 7 picks that would set their offense for years. With the extra second round pick the Pats could move up and select Brandon Flowers as their CB of the future. The last possibility is to trade the third round pick obtained from Oakland to the Eagles for Lito Shepard. This would fill both of their glaring needs in this draft.Thomas Giblin

Are you a Falcons fan or something? From what I can tell, this is a great trade for Atlanta because they get the top quarterback and one of the top two running backs in the draft. Boley is a solid player but he's not worth trading the seventh pick for. You trade a pick that high for players like Julius Peppers, not Michael Boley. I have to say, we get a lot of these hypothetical trade ideas but in all honesty Thomas, this may be the craziest one I've ever seen. My suggestion is to send this trade proposal to the Falcons web site and come up with a new one for the Patriots.
-Tom Casale

I have a plan for the Pats' offseason. First, sign Takeo Spikes to play OLB. Then, draft Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at #7. Trade #62 and own 3rd round pick to middle of second round to draft Cutis Lofton, who will not be asked to start right away, but is capable to. Then, trade Oakland's 3rd round pick the Pats have, and a pick next year, maybe a second/ third rounder, for Pacman Jones, who I believe NE can straighten out. Lito Sheppard wants a new contract, and Pacman is under contract for, I believe, three more years. Get Sheppard if you can, but Pacman has added value as a returner. What do you think???
Kevin G

I don't like any plan that involves Pacman Jones. I'm pretty much in favor of signing any player that has talent and can help the team win but even I have to draw the line at Pacman Jones. This guy hasn't shown one single thing that suggests he finally gets it. A team is going to sign Pacman and it will only be a matter of time before he's in trouble again. I will guarantee that. I would be shocked if he ended up in New England. Shocked. You said you believe Jones can straighten out. Why? What has he done to make you believe that? Sorry but no thank you.
-Tom Casale

Hello Paul. I know Lua got injured and I knew it was bad when I saw it happen but I thought and I hoped this kid would fill a spot at inside linebacker someday. Was he already too damaged to make an impact? Do you also know anything about a DL the Pats cut in preseason last year? I know his first name was Jason and I believe he was drafted out of SMU. He looked like a Mike Vrabel type and I was very surprised when he didn't make the team because I thought he played well.
Steve Sallari

Sorry to disappoint you Steve but this is Tom, not Paul. I have a question I want to ask not only you but all of our e-mailers. Why do you care when JAGS like Oscar Lua and Justin Rogers get cut? They are bottom of the roster guys. There are 100 Oscar Lua's on the street if the Patriots need one. Did you honestly think a seventh-round pick who has knee problems was the Patriots inside linebacker of the future? And you think Rogers compares to Mike Vrabel? Vrabel is a Pro Bowler and one of the most versatile linebackers in the NFL. I just find it amazing that people get up in arms when the Patriots cut guys like Oscar Lua. Let's face it, he was lucky just to be on an NFL roster for a year.
-Tom Casale

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