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Ask PFW: Drafting a QB plan?

This week’s Ask PFW mailbag includes plenty of questions about the possibility of New England taking a quarterback in this month’s NFL Draft.

It's the offseason and the madness is upon us. Will Gronk retire? Will we trade Gronk? Will we trade Gronk, Brady and Edelman as a package? Will we trade all the current players for all the draft picks in the entire draft???? It's all a little nerve racking for the average fan. I've always relied on blind faith in the Hoodie this time of year. Do you think he has it all under control as usual?

Chris Guay

In general, faith in Bill Belichick is very much warranted based on his long track record for success. That being said, I always analyze decisions on a more individual basis. I will continue to do just that. While the offseason got off to a tough start in some ways regarding the future of Gronkowski/Brady as well as the big-money free agent departures, things have looked up of late. I love the fact that Belichick enters the draft with a pair of first-round picks, four in the first two rounds and five of the top 95 selections. I'm intrigued to see how he puts that type of capital to use on draft weekend either through individual selections or trades to acquire top value. It should be fun. Continue the faith.

Andy Hart

How well do you think the Patriots will do this season? Do you think they have the skill to go to the Super Bowl. Also, who do you think will go to the Super Bowl?

Richard Medeiros

Assuming that Tom Brady is running the show for Belichick and throwing to Gronkowski, I think the Patriots will win the AFC East yet again this fall and compete for a Super Bowl. While Vegas has New England as the favorite for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, I do have some questions about the team. The biggest would be about the left tackle spot and the improvement of the front seven on defense. As of right now, and with what I see on the tackle depth chart, I would lean toward the Patriots not going to the Super Bowl. You really want an April Super Bowl prediction that will probably be very wrong? How about Steelers vs. Vikings!

Andy Hart

Reports out today said Gronkowski's frustration with Belichick stems from being "chastised" in front of other players regarding his performance and its connection to his training regimen with Guerrero. Earlier reports indicated Belichick being displeased with Gronkowski's message to Amendola following his signing with the Dolphins. If these reports are true, Belichick has to be growing tired of this ongoing distraction. As Patriots fans, we all know that the Coach doesn't tolerate behavior or attitudes that become an obstacle to the team-first concept. Bottom line, do you feel there is any chance that Belichick would trade Gronkowski? Thanks.

Gary Madera

East Hanover, NJ

Would you be shocked if Patriots traded Gronk and one of their 2d round picks for Giants 2d pick in the draft to grab a QB?

Sean McCluster

Would Belichick trade Gronk? Has he ever at least considered the possibility? Probably. At this point, though, I don't believe Belichick is going to trade Gronkowksi and Cooks in the same offseason. That would very much strip Brady of his top options. But, I also don't really know where Gronkowski stands in terms of his motivation to play and his contentment with his current contract. Could that force the Patriots hand in a trade? It's possible but seemingly less likely now than it was a few weeks ago. So, yes, I'd be shocked if the Patriots traded Gronk to the Giants for the No. 2 pick to take a quarterback. It would be a bold move by both teams, and in my opinion a terrible trade from the New York perspective.

Andy Hart

I hope the Pats select Kolton Miller with the 23th pick to replace Solder, Sam Hubbard with the 31th pick to upgrade the pass rush, Mason Rudolph with the 43th pick to be our QB when Brady retires and the best CB available with the 63th pick. What do you think?

Julio Hernandez

I'm not in love with it, especially the Miller selection. I don't think he's a sure-fire left tackle to plug and play in the NFL. In fact, if I had to bet one way or the other I'd bet Miller is a bust. Hubbard is a versatile guy, but I'm not sure he warrants a first-round pick or has a lot of upside in the NFL. Second-round pick? I'd love him. Rudolph wouldn't be my first choice for a developmental QB – that would be Mike White out of Western Kentucky. I certainly would not be opposed to a young cornerback to add to the mix of veteran talent.

Andy Hart

Do you think that in evaluating which QB to draft the Patriots may be considering if he would be willing to do Brady-like contract structure after his rookie contract expires, and that would eliminate QBs who are likely be pursuing top money?

Frank Dorme

No, no I do not. I don't really know how you would assess that. (I'm not taking anyone's word for it.) I think the Patriots have to focus on finding the best QB possible in terms of talent and upside. That's enough of a challenge.

Andy Hart

If you look at the abysmal performance of the Patriots secondary in the last SB and the total level of compensation of that unit, the Patriots clearly did not get near the value for their money. Do you think it would be fair to have someone like Devin McCourty be asked for a pay cut?

Sam Belford

I have always been one who thought McCourty got a very good contract for himself when he re-signed in New England. But he's also a solid player. Is he overpaid? Probably. But he's probably still at least a year away from being asked to take a pay cut. Beyond that, there aren't really any other options. You aren't going to get Stephon Gilmore to do it, and he may have been the best defensive back by the end of last season anyway. Patrick Chung just got a new deal. Duron Harmon is only a year into his relatively modest deal after re-signing. And Eric Rowe is playing out his rookie contract. It will be interesting to see how the secondary looks – and lives up to its combined pay – this fall in the post-Butler era with the addition of Jason McCourty.

Andy Hart

Hello again from a huge fan in PA (born in Rhode Island though) and as always thank you very much for all the work keeping us fans informed. With Brandin Cooks now traded I believe it is Phillip Dorsett's time to shine in New England. He is just as fast as Cooks, they ran the exact same 40 time, and even quicker as he ran a better three-cone drill. Am I crazy to think that he could become a go-to option in this offense in 2018? If he does flash his potential signing him to a new deal would be a lot cheaper than whatever it is Cooks wanted. It has been reported that the Patriots tried to extend Cooks' contract but they were far apart on money, do you know if this is true? I think the offense could be especially explosive this year, assuming that Gronk plays, what are your thoughts?

Michael Pizzoli

Thanks guys for the work you do. Pats fan from the Bahamas, I've noticed that we've signed a bit of wide receivers and we don't talk about Phillip Dorsett I'm curious as to what you see as Dorsett's future this season with the team. After the Brandon Cooks trade do you see him taking over as the speed receiver/deep threat for the team? Or do you think that'll be difficult for him to make the roster with the depth at wide receiver and be cut or traded?

Walcott Miller

Crazy? Let's got with overly optimistic, Michael. Dorsett has never really been a go-to option, either in college or the pros. Still, he does have a chance to expand his role after a full offseason in the system. He arrived late in the process last September and that's not easy. I don't think he's as talented as Cooks, but he has potential and could fill the speed-base role to some degree working with the overall depth at the spot that includes a returning Edelman, Chris Hogan and others. The way I look at it, Edelman, Hogan and whoever is most healthy between Jordan Matthews/Malcolm Mitchell are probably the most likely to make the team. Then there will be some interesting competition and battling for roles and roster spots. I'm intrigued by Dorsett in that mix, but I wouldn't want to have to count on him at this point. It should make OTAs and offseason practices fun to watch as the passing game plays out before our eyes, an area that's actually sometimes worth assessing in non-pads action.

Andy Hart

When Rams coach Sean McVay was talking about Cooks it seems like he oversold him by saying he competes for the ball and fights through contact. Was I watching a different Cooks? Don't get me wrong, he's good but I didn't think he fought for the ball at all and he definitely can't be used all over the field. I think losing him takes away an element to the passing game but not as much as people think your opinion?

Chuck Merritt

I was somewhat critical of Cooks contributions and fit last season and was very much criticized for that criticism. Now, more have seemed to question his fighting for the ball, versatility, short-game contributions and field awareness. I guess that's how it works when you change teams. Cooks has a lot of talent and potential. But he also clearly has some limitations as he prepares to play for his third team in three years. He is who he is, but that doesn't mean he's who we think he can be. I learned that. I think the Patriots learned that. McVay may learn that at some point, too.

Andy Hart

1. Do you see Pats drafting a guard as insurance to Shaq Mason?

2. Don't you think that instead of drafting a cornerback, the team should give Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones a chance to prove if they are the real deal instead of putting another player in the mix and taking the snaps from guys who could give a more exact impression?

3. In a scenario where we are so stocked that we need to trade a player, who would you trade and why: Malcolm Mitchell (injuries) or Chris Hogan (age and contract)?

Gregorio Ladeira

Love these numbered, multi-part questions. I do think New England could be in the market for a guard to protect against Mason leaving as a free agent after next season. I think his reputation around the league is good enough that he could warrant a pretty hefty contract next spring as the money thrown around at all positions continues to grow. I am interested in adding a young corner. While I think Rowe is serviceable, at worst, as a No. 3 option. I don't have high hopes for either Jones. Certainly Cyrus Jones has shown me enough to really doubt him ever doing anything as a top-3 NFL cornerback. Finally, I would trade Mitchell because of his health concerns that date back to college at Georgia. I'm not sure he'll ever be able to put forth full seasons of full contributions. Hogan has been pretty healthy over his career (though not last year) and has shown the ability to contribute at impressive and at times clutch level for Brady and this offense.

Andy Hart

If Josh McDaniels staying as offensive coordinator does indeed mean will be the successor of Coach Belichick, will he have an increased input into this year's draft selections, particularly in regards to quarterbacks? If so, do we see him favor a pocket passer in an attempt to somewhat continue coach BB's offense or do we see a more mobile quarterback like Josh's previous selection of Tim Tebow?

Sam Smith

Though McDaniels has downplayed the idea that he's been promised anything for the future, if he's the successor to Belichick I do believe he would have an even more meaningful voice in the potential selection of a quarterback in the draft. It only makes sense, especially with Belichick reportedly opening his "world" up to his offensive assistant. That would seem to include the draft process, certainly at the position McDaniels works with most closely. But, I'm not sure that would give an indication of what direction the team would go in terms of style of quarterback. McDaniels and Belichick have both been key parts of drafting a lot of quarterbacks with a lot of very different skill sets. Tebow was different than Ryan Mallet, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. I think both coaches and the entire scouting staff would be looking for the best quarterback overall, the guy with the potential to play at a very high level in the NFL regardless of exactly how he plays the position.

Andy Hart

If Pats are unable to land a top-rated QB, then BB is likely taking Lauletta and the question is where? The 46th pick is high, but considering that Bill spent 2d rounders on the likes of Tavon Wilson and Jordan Richards, why not on the QB? Or will he be anxiously awaiting for Lauletta at 63?

Len Dryer

Hello guys, is it conceivable that the Patriots do NOT take a QB in this year's draft? I was just thinking that since most QB-needy teams will be picking one this year, would it be worth waiting until next year given that there'd be less competition?

Jaimie Bains

I think anything is possible. I really do. I think the Patriots are doing a lot of work on the quarterback position – as they really are with all positions – and would like to add one to the mix. Maybe that could be a guy they deem to be elite who slips to 23. Maybe that could be a mid-round guy. Really the only thing I would be stunned with would be a trade up to the top-10 to get a quarterback. But if the quarterbacks they deem worthy are drafted before they can pounce, then they could also go without taking one. They won't take a guy they don't like just fill a slot on the depth chart only to cut him later. That would be dumb. As for Lauletta, I know many have pinpointed him as the perfect Patriots quarterback option, but I'm not sure that's the case. I know his stock is very much on the rise, but I'm not sure it should be. I'm not in love with him just because he has a background that includes the Navy and lacrosse. But what do I know? They don't let me in the War Room.

Andy Hart

Hey guys, thanks for giving us fans some great analysis over the offseason. My question is now that we have 2 first-round picks which 2 prospects would be your dream picks that could realistically fall to the Patriots? I personally would love it if they took Either Mike McGlinchey or Kolton Miller at 23, and Sam Hubbard or Leighton Vander Esch at 31. Excited to hear your thoughts. Big fan up here in chilly Canada.

Murray Roberts

As I said earlier I'm not a big fan of Miller and don't really feel much better about McGlinchey. The tackle I like is Pitt's Brian O'Neill. While both Hubbard and Vander Esch intrigue me, I don't know if they would represent good long term value at 31. My dream for 23 is simple – B.C. pass rusher Harold Landry. But I don't think that's very realistic at this point. At 31 I'll go with O'Neill or Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander.

Andy Hart

There are few Patriots who I wonder if they deserve to make a 53-man roster including Richards, Grissom and possibly C. Jones if he does not show well again in the camp? Yes, they were 2nd- and 3rd- round draft picks and are on the rookie deals, but their compensations are not peanuts anymore and also why not give the new draftees a chance to show if they have an upside?

Chris Palmer

I think it's safe to say all three are very much on the roster bubble. Grissom has already been cut in the past and spent time on the practice squad. He's little more than a special teamer. Richards' stock is certainly not on the rise after his issues last season. Many thought he was on the bubble last summer. And Jones has not proven himself – at least not in a positive way – as either a returner or a cornerback in his two seasons. Coming off a torn ACL, his future is dubious at best. So your feelings about those guys are pretty dead on.

Andy Hart

What are the chances that we re-sign James Harrison? I liked what he was able to contribute even if it's just in the mentality of the opponents that they at least have to account for him coming off the edge. I can see him playing a role just as Chris Long did for us a year ago, what do you guys think?

Evan Hatley

I thought Harrison contributed down the stretch last season, both as an edge-setter against the run and with some rushes off the edge. I do think the team would look to get younger and better at that spot. If it can continue to add talent in the draft and if Derek Rivers is coming back well from his torn ACL, then Harrison may not be needed. If things don't work out, then I think Harrison would be an option. In an ideal world I'd prefer to move on from Harrison. But if needed, I wouldn't rule out a return. I think the team might feel the same way.

Andy Hart

Awesome work you do all year round - really appreciate the work you do! I have kind of a crazy question - is it possible to make a 'speculative trade'? What I mean by that is the following. What if a team (say the Patriots) offer their 1st (or 2nd) round pick next year to two teams. In return they will get both teams 2nd (or 3rd) round picks of this year. The team that finishes with the best record in the following year eventually gets the 1st (or 2nd) round pick of the Patriots and the other is left with nothing. Of course this doesn't have to be a 1st or 2nd round pick, but it could also be with other rounds if the earlier rounds are too risky. The basis of this idea is that two teams can bet on themselves, with a possible acceptable loss, and the opportunity of a substantial gain - while the Patriots are in a win-win and win-now mode. What do you think about it, and is it legal/possible? Thx - Greetings from Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Freek van Heck

I love these creative questions, but no. Not legal. Not allowed. And why would other teams take such a risk? It could also make for some crazy scenarios that might be almost impossible follow, especially if picks were traded more than once along the way. My head hurts just imagining it.

Andy Hart

Hi. I have a question regarding the new rule involving "leading with the helmet." How does this impact players, in particular, quarterbacks like Tom Brady who go for it on third-and-1 or fourth-and-1? Do you think we will see less of the quarterback sneaks? Tom is one of the best at it. Thanks.

Donna Gallo

This is one of the many questions left with this new rule. I don't think the league or the officials even really know how this rule is going to be written up or called at this point. I'm very much interested in talking to the officials about these types of things when they visit training camp and meet with the media this summer. I personally think this rule is going to be horrific and lead to many controversies. I could even see it being scrapped midseason in pure chaos. But, we'll see. We'll see.

Andy Hart

With the Cooks trade (GREAT move btw) do you see the Pats trading their 2 first-rounders to the Browns for #4 to select DE Chubb? He would bring their D to the next level & they would still have plenty of picks in later rounds to address their other needs (LB, LT, etc).

Justin Sane

While I think that would be a bad trade value for the Browns, I would definitely consider it from a Patriots perspective. I really like Chubb and he fills a big need at a key spot in modern football. I don't think it's realistic or likely, but these are the things that are fun to talk about when a team has multiple picks in the first two rounds and a coach who is not afraid to move around the draft board. We have a couple more weeks of this fun!

Andy Hart

With the departure of Nate Solder, who do you foresee taking his place?

Karen Pike

To me, that's the biggest question the Patriots face between now and opening day. If I had to pick a guy from the roster right now, I'd go with LaAdrian Waddle. But I wouldn't rule out a draft pick getting the job or a trade, either. Most likely, though, would be Waddle winning the job to open the year and then maybe a rookie – or even Antonio Garcia – sliding into the role at some later point in the season. I have to be honest, I don't feel great about any of the options. Maybe I'll feel differently after training camp and preseason action. But we've all seen examples problems at left tackle derailing a team's offense. Hopefully by the fall, that's not the case for Brady and Co.

Andy Hart

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