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Ask PFW: Drafting down the home stretch

If I were Bill Belichick, I would trade No. 17 and No. 60 along with a third rounder to move up to No. 10 or 11. There, I would take either Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo or the best pass rusher available.
Andrew Cabatingan

Based on Monday's tweets from ESPN's Adam Schefter, Belichick could be considering just the type of move you're talking about, Andrew. But I'm not sure he'd be doing so for an offensive lineman. I don't personally believe there is a top-10 lineman in this draft and that there are a bunch of pretty good ones who will be there later in the first or even early in the second round. I think he'd be trading up for a pass rusher, although some believe it could be for cornerback Patrick Peterson. We'll see. I'm just excited about some talk of trading up. It's been a while. And the last three years it's been all trading down or out of the first round.
Andy Hart

I would love to see us take two OL-men with our top three picks. We need to protect the aging, less mobile Brady, and run the ball on the blitzing teams including Gang Green. And I don't want to see either [Nick] Kaczur or [Dan] Connolly on a starting line-up especially in the playoffs.
Ted K.

I don't know if it will be in the top three picks, but I do think there is a very good chance the Patriots draft both a guard and a tackle at some point in say the top half of the draft. There is a big need on the line. Really, only center Dan Koppen and swing tackle Sebastian Vollmer are proven returning starters. Logan Mankins is up in the air as the franchise left guard. With Stephen Neal retired and Connolly having struggled in the postseason, the right guard spot is a question. And with Matt Light a free agent, the other tackle job is a question. I could easily see the team taking a lineman in the first three picks and then another later in the third. Both guys could be expected to compete for a starting job as soon as they arrive in New England.
Andy Hart

If the Pats took one of the good defensive line rookies in the 17th spot, wouldn't it seem kind of odd? That is the pick for [Richard] Seymour. Unless there was more to the Seymour trade than was published, why get rid of him to grab some unproven rookie at the same position when Seymour had several years of playing life left? My suggestion, which means nothing, would be to grab the top offensive lineman available at #17, since Neal, Kaczur and possibly Mankins could be going or gone. At #28 keep that pick and try for that elusive pass rusher they are in deep need of. At #33 keep that pick and find a solid running back that goes along with that offensive lineman they picked at (17) so Brady can extend his career. In the 2nd pick of the second round find that down field WR burner they were missing when they played the Jets last. BB still has plenty of folks (two 3rd's and beyond) to wheel and deal with.
Dana Sullenberry

The question about the No. 17 pick and Seymour is one that I've raised for quite a while. The one big difference is that Seymour was making significantly more money than the team would pay No. 17 and was a year away from free agency and being difficult to sign when he was shipped to the Raiders. But on the field the question is fair, if you need a five-technique end so bad that you're willing to target that spot with your first pick, why didn't you keep the elite, All-Pro end you had? That's one of the reasons why I haven't been in love with the idea of taking a guy like J.J. Watt or Cameron Jordan. Forget about the fact that I'm not anywhere near sold that either can be in Seymour's category at the position. I'm actually pretty confident they can't. Though that doesn't mean they can't be good, solid NFL players. So while I'd much rather see an actual pass rusher with the top pick, my second choice would probably be an offensive lineman. As such, I don't hate your mock draft philosophy.
Andy Hart

Dear PFW, As the draft approaches quickly I find myself spending endless hours trying to occupy myself with something football related. As I have seen every mock draft publicized in any sort of way, I have seen Da'Quan Bowers' stock fall. As I look at Bowers and look at his stats and physical information I have been left to wondering why nobody talks about him possibly making the jump to a 3-4 OLB. Assuming his knee is OK or healing why doesn't he compare to Quinn and give people thoughts to make him a 3-4 OLB?
Daniel Johnson

When the 17th pick rolls around this Thursday if Aldon Smith and Ryan Kerrigan are off the board and Da' Quan Bowers slips that far do you look past the medical concerns and pull the trigger? I understand he isn't ideal for the 3-4 but talk about great value and you know B.B. will find a way to get a guy like that on the field.
Andrew Corbett

Bowers is interesting in that he showed himself to be a very productive pass rusher last year, but is bigger than Quinn and doesn't seem to be athletic enough for the OLB spot. But the question is whether he's too good a value to pass up at 17. I probably would pass if I were the Patriots because I think he'd be mostly a situational pass rusher in the New England scheme, and that's not a spot worthy of the 17th pick. But I'd be worried that I'm passing on a high-level pass rusher. I'd probably try to trade out for a 4-3 team that would also want to cash in on Bowers' value. I just think the Patriots need to draft an every down, starting player with their top pick. Not sure Bowers, even if healthy, could be that in New England's scheme.
Andy Hart

If the Patriots don't trade up and take a player like Anthony Castonzo at pick 17 and Robert Quinn, Aldon Smith, and J.J. Watt are all gone, who do you think the Patriots see as the solution to their pass rushing needs? Personally I think picking an OT at pick 17 puts the rest of a draft in a hole because there aren't many dynamic pass rushers after them.
Luke W.

I've said for more than a year that the pass rush is the Patriots biggest need. I stand by that. That's why I'd advocate trading up to get an elite pass rusher. If you miss out on those, and even second-tier guys like Smith and Kerrigan, then you probably start looking at guys like Brooks Reed, Jabaal Sheard, Justin Houston and a couple others. I still think the team needs to get an OLB pass rusher in the first round. We'll see if it happens.
Andy Hart

If Patrick Peterson falls to #7 or lower do you see the Pats making a move for him? Through the years BB has always had a love of great safeties, moving Peterson to safety would give BB the type of player he covets. I know that Peterson is listed as a CB right now but can you see him being a great safety in the NFL and bring a new level to the Pats defense that Troy Polamalu brings to Pittsburgh's defense? Thanks
Mike Anderson

PFW bossman Fred Kirsch thinks that Peterson could very well be the target if the Patriots were to trade up in the draft. Peterson is a great athlete. Like you I think he may end up a safety at the next level and I'm always a bit hesitant taking projections that high in the draft. (I know, Robert Quinn is a sort of projection, but leave me alone.) I think Peterson may end up a big-bodied, good-but-not-great NFL cornerback. You are right that Belichick has been intrigued by hybrid corner/safety/athlete types in the past. Maybe that's the case with Peterson. I just don't know how much better it would make the defense if the team didn't make a big stride in the pass rush area. I actually think that the safety spot has pretty good talent and depth right now and certainly wouldn't put it near the top needs at this point.
Andy Hart

A draft preview had a quote: the toughest thing to project is converting a college DE into an NFL OLB. That quote was by Belichick himself. Robert Quinn has many issues, and Charley Casserly said he never saw pass rush production on film from either Aldon Smith or Ryan Kerrigan. Problems with Quinn: 1. He got suspended (question his judgment?), 2. He got suspended (hasn't played since '09), 3. Conversion from college DE, 4. It would cost too much to move up that far, 5. He'd cost too much in $, 6. Benign brain tumor (benign yes, but can you count on him to be completely healthy the next 10 years?). Realistically, unfortunately, it's wait 'til next year for impact pass rusher(s).
Joe Theban

There would be a clear investment in trading up to get a guy like Quinn. And, yes, there is some risk involved with the move. I'm not as worried about the suspension or the tumor (assuming the team doctors have signed off on it). My biggest fear is the transition and his ability to set the edge and play the run. But I'd still like to take the chance on him, because I think he can make the transition and could end up being a special player. There was a risk with DeMarcus Ware, too. Now he's the best at the position for the Cowboys and an absolute beast. Wouldn't you like to have that in a Patriots uniform? Quinn could be the guy.
Andy Hart
Hey, really like what you guys do. My question is regarding Ryan Kerrigan and Aldon Smith. Which do you like more as an OLB for the Patriots? Keep up the good work.

Ray Allen

That's a great question. I think they are different. I think Kerrigan is a more proven product. He had 25 sacks the last two years with 12 forced fumbles and comes from a system that produces NFL 3-4 OLBs. But I'm not sure he's going to be an elite, game-changing talent. I don't think the team that drafts him will ever regret it. But they may not get a guy who's the backbone of a defense, either. Smith is more about upside. He could end up being a prototypical 3-4 OLB. But he's young raw and had really only one great year. (I know, same with Quinn!) Michael Lombardi compared Smith to Willie McGinest. Maybe he'll be just that. Maybe he won't. But I think there is both a higher ceiling and a lower floor for the team taking Smith. Kerrigan is the safer pick. Which would I take? I'd probably swing for the fences and take the chance on Smith's upside.
Andy Hart
Hey I saw on NFL Network that Mark Ingram visited with the Pats and that some mock drafts have the Pats taking him with the 17th. My question is, are they crazy? Why would they do that? I think they should pick up a free agent like DeAngelo Williams who is a proven RB. What are your thoughts?

Griffin Yun

I loved Williams coming out of college and wanted the Patriots to take him. Instead we got Laurence Maroney. But he's not been a sure-thing in the NFL. He had one great year, one good year and three average or injury-slowed years. I'd actually love to see the team sign a guy like Williams and draft a guy. Add in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead and I think you have a deep, competitive backfield with a lot of potential. I don't love Ingram. I wouldn't touch him at 17. I'd only consider him at 28 if I already had a pass rusher. If he fell any further than that, then he's probably great value. I think Ingram will be a solid pro, but not an elite, franchise running back.
Andy Hart

Hey PFW. OK I've been becoming really annoyed by the talk that seems to be downing Brady. Stuff like in PFW mailbag us trading him or on NFL.com us drafting his replacement in the first round. I may just be overly biased but he doesn't show much to be slowing down to me. Sure he has had knee injuries but it's not like he's a Mike Vick type QB. Correct me if I'm wrong but did he not just win the MVP, hold a perfect passer rating for awhile, and in the past couple seasons break multiple records most recent his longest non interception streak?
Jacob Mattson

I think the talk is just that, talk. There was some talk about the Colts drafting Peyton Manning's heir apparent as well. I think it's too early for both, even more so for the younger Brady. He just signed a four-year deal. He wants to play into his 40s. He played as well as ever last year. To me it's too soon to use anything other than a latter round pick on a quarterback. I think it's all media created chatter at this point. Tedy Bruschi also said this past weekend that he didn't think the team using a high pick on a quarterback would sit well in the locker room, as the team clearly has other needs as it works to get back to a Super Bowl title. Belichick was just doing his due diligence on guys like Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett. The media took the chance to create a nice story out of it. Hey, those ESPN SportsCenter draft specials have to have something to talk about. Brady and the Patriots sell.
Andy Hart

I think that we need a dominate OLB, why not Von Miller? He could slip past the top 5. Do you think that if that happens would BB trade up to SF( San Francisco) or Dallas for him with the first rounders(17th and 28th)?
Griffin Yun
Do you think that Von Miller, after a few years in the weight room, would have the size and strength to be effective against the run in the Patriots system?

Sam Frankel

You guys gave your Defensive line prospect analysis, and there was no Von Miller to be seen. what gives? IMHO I think the Pats should be trading up for Von Miller if at all possible. That boy is a beast and his demeanor and work ethic scream New England. I'd take him over Robert Quinn in a heartbeat; Quinn is a close second in my eyes.
Matt Granville

Miller was included in our outside linebacker analysis, because the general consensus is that he can only be an outside linebacker (4-3 or 3-4) in the NFL. Guys like Quinn, who also played end in college, could end up as 4-3 ends in the pros or 3-4 OLBs. Miller is a very good pass rusher, but I'm not quite as high on him as some others are. He has very good speed and a great first step. But not sure he's got great power moves or a lot of secondary pass rush moves. I also don't think he's a great fit in New England for setting the edge. I may be wrong. I think Miller will have a very good NFL career, just not sold he'll be an elite pass rushing star at the next level. We'll see. If Belichick thinks he is and is willing to trade up to find out, I'd certainly be excited to watch it all unfold in New England.
Andy Hart

While I know the difference between a 3-4 and 4-3, I was hoping you could enlighten me on something about rushing the passer in our defense that I'm not sure about. With the 4-3's like Indy, the two ends seem to be rushing the QB from the start, is that correct? While with the 3-4 two gap scheme the line "reads and reacts" after the ball is snapped. In light of that, does the delay between the snap of the ball and the decision of the OLB's to rush to QB affect how long it eventually takes to reach the QB? Or am I totally wrong about the differences?
Paul Evenson

The "read and react" aspect of the Patriots 3-4 has more to do with running plays. When it's a passing play, or even a passing situation, the guys assigned to rush the passer are trying to do just that – get to the quarterback as soon as possible. The only time there is a read in a pass rush is if a guy has a coverage responsibility, usually man coverage. A linebacker could be assigned a running back and if that guy stays in to block the linebacker is then freed up to rush the passer. Otherwise the pass rushers in pretty much any defense are looking to get to the QB ASAP on a pass play. It just hasn't looked like that, or happened often enough, in New England in recent years.
Andy Hart
I believe the needs go olb/de, ol, wr, cb, rb and with the fact that free agency didn't happen yet there isn't a big reason to overvalue need number 1. I think this offseason people have been seriously underrating the need at receiver, a rb can be picked up through free agency. So they can hold off till late for a rb and there is a lot of depth for olb/de for later in round one. So if a guy like a Julio Jones is sitting between 9 to 13 why not trade up to for him I don't see what some of you guys don't see in him. I think Jones would right away make an impact on offense but if they don't get him then I think they should definitely look to get someone like Torrey Smith, Hankerson, Baldwin. I think they are the type of receivers the Patriots need rather than a Cobb or Jernigan unless they fall, what do you guys think?

Patrick McAvoy

I do think the Patriots need to add a WR at some point in the middle of their picks. And I agree that they need more of a down-the-field or at least well-rounded receiver than a slot guy. I'm not in love with Jones' value near the top of the draft. I think he'll be a good pro, but not a game changer like A.J. Green. Jones plays a physical, workman style that I'm sure Belichick would love and comes from a pro offense. But he's also prone to some injuries thanks to that style. I think he'll have a very good career. I'm just not sure he's top-of-the-first-round great. I'd wait till later for a guy like Smith or Hankerson. I'm not a Baldwin fan. I think he's too big and slow and has some character issues. I do like Cobb, even though he's not the best fit right now. But let's remember that both Welker and Branch are heading into the final years of their contracts. So if Cobb ended up being the best all-around option, even if more a slot guy, he still might be worth taking. And let's not give up on Taylor Price as New England's outside guy. I haven't.
Andy Hart
DO you think this is a good draft idea? With pick 17 the Patriots could get JJ Watt, and if he is taken Cam Jordan. With 28 they take Ingram to shore up their backfield, then with 33 they take Brooks Reed. With this combination, I believe the Patriots could win another Super Bowl.

Rory Harwood

I wouldn't call this an ideal draft, as I'm not in love with DE as the biggest need, think Ingram is a luxury more than a necessity in the first round and think Reed might take a while to get his bearings in the New England 3-4. It also doesn't address the needs on the offensive line. But it's not the worst draft scenario I've seen. Not even close. I also don't see it as a sure-fire recipe for a Super Bowl win.
Andy Hart
I understand the importance of Kevin Faulk's role in the blocking scheme and I know Noel Devine isn't quite the blocker. But I would love to see Devine come in and learn from Faulk for a year or two. I'd also like to see Roy Helu Jr taking over the Sammy Morris role. Both of those players would inject homerun speed into our offense and special teams. Do you see these players as guys the Patriots might target late?

Nick Wilds

I like Helu as a mid-round versatile option. I think he has more speed and big-play ability than Morris. I think there is a chance he could be an every-down lead back in the NFL. I certainly think he'll be on the Pats radar if they wait a bit to look for a running back in the middle of the draft. Devine might be more of a late-round option, sort of Danny Woodhead insurance. He's got great speed, but is just so tiny. He has durability/injury issues. At the very least I think he'd be fun to watch in preseason action as he can make some silly, video game type plays on the field. I'd say he's a less likely Patriot, but as Belichick would say I wouldn't rule it out.
Andy Hart

In your prospect rankings Erik [Scalavino] calls Locker "accurate". I just would love to know how a QB with a 54% completion percentage is considered accurate? Erik's cred is now dog poop....
Jeff Verderber

While I agree with your overall point about Erik's cred, I don't necessarily just look at completion percentage when I talk about accuracy. Plenty of well-thrown balls can be incomplete. See Watson, Benjamin. Conversely plenty of completions can be inaccurate. I don't think consistent accuracy is one of Locker's biggest strengths, but not just because of his completion percentage. It's about visual scouting, not mathematical analysis. But, in conclusion, love your thoughts on Erik.
Andy Hart
Where do we take an OL? SI had us taking Pouncey with 17, but I think he'll be there at 28 or even 33. Also, is there a greater need for an interior lineman or tackle for the Pats? Thanks, and let's go Patriots!

Jackson Perry

I think there is a pretty equal need for a guard and a tackle, although the latter is the more valuable commodity. The team returns one starter at tackle in Vollmer. He could play either side. But there isn't much else on the tackle depth chart considering Light's a free agent and Kaczur is coming off a yearlong absence to a back injury. At guard Neal is gone, Mankins is in limbo and Connolly may not be a true starting-level player. But both Mankins and Connolly could be starters, as they were to close out last season. I think Mankins is in a bind and may have to just play out another season in New England, even if he's not happy about it. So I'd say there is a slightly greater need at tackle. That said, I expect the Patriots could very well take a lineman in the first 33 picks. That could be Pouncey, although I don't love him. It could be Danny Watkins. It could be Anthony Castonzo. It could be another tackle or guard prospect with value late in the first round or early in the second.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, looking at Dontay Moch as a 3rd or 4th round pick, does he fit into the Pats defensive system at all or is he a guy that you guys would remove from your draft board all together? Given his speed any chance he could be converted to safety? Thanks.
Mike Anderson

He's not going to move from defensive end to safety. So let's forget about that. But I wouldn't remove him from the board all together. He's a proven pass rusher with great speed off the edge. So he could be a sub, situational pass rusher for the Patriots. How valuable would that be? I don't know. It's better than nothing, but may not be better than other more well-rounded options or worth a draft pick to Belichick. Moch doesn't have the size or versatile game to be a real option as a true OLB.
Andy Hart
Could Matt Light potentially be moved to guard if we find a suitable tackle in the draft? If so, how do you think he would respond and perform? Thank you.

Rick Goodwin

First, Light is a free agent left tackle coming off a Pro Bowl season. So I think he hits the open market looking for Pro Bowl left tackle money. So while I think he might have the ability to move inside and be at least a serviceable guard, I think some team will give him the money and job of serving as a left tackle for at least another year or two. There just aren't that many capable NFL left tackles out there. That may be in New England, but there is a good chance it may not. I'd be stunned to see Light re-sign with New England only to move inside to guard.
Andy Hart

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