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Ask PFW: Dreaming of the Draft

Fans' questions answered in our weekly PFW mailbag.

Any way the Patriots send [their] number 31 [overall draft pick] to the Raiders for [LB Khalil] Mack?Jay Gill

While I would love to see of player of Mack's talents on the Patriots defense, and at the relatively affordable price tag you're suggesting, I'm guessing the $65 million in guaranteed money that Mack is reportedly seeking might be too much for New England. Erik Scalavino

I really love the thought of drafting a linebacker or pass rusher with the 23rd pick, but with more pressing needs, do you see the Patriots reaching to draft a QB with a second-round grade here.LaVar Brennan

No. I don't like the idea of "reaching" for such an important position that high in the draft. I could, however, envision New England packaging some of its draft surplus to move up and take a quarterback they feel is worthy. That would make draft night a lot more interesting than I already expect it could be. Erik Scalavino

Is it just me and the PFW crew who love Mike White as our next QB? Everyone is talking up [Kyle] Lauletta and the kid from Washington [State, Luke Falk], but White has the tools to be a superstar. I hope [head coach Bill] Belichick is doing his homework and sees the potential in this kid. Pick him with the 43rd pick, don't take any chances. As for the other four picks in the early rounds, I like Vander Esch (ILB), Lorenzo Carter (OLB/DE), Carlton Davis (CB) and Troy Fumagalli (TE). Our linebacker corps is horrible so we need to address it now. What do you think of my selections?Lou Manni

I realize that most fans get excited about the NFL Draft as if it were Christmas Day, but let's not forget that there are absolutely NO guarantees when it comes to picking any players, regardless of the round in which they're selected. Do we like Mike White? Sure, but, as an example, I also thought Kevin O'Connell had the best pre-draft highlight tape I'd ever seen from a QB, and was deliriously excited when the Patriots chose him way back in 2008. He was gone from the Patriots a year later and from the NFL not long after that. WR Chad Jackson was another guy most of us thought was a great Patriots pick… until he showed up and couldn't catch the ball.

Point is, all the picks you've suggested might look good on paper, Lou, but until they actually come to Gillette and we see how they fit into this system, it's really pointless to say with any certainty how ideal each individual will be in New England. I will say, though, that you've targeted the right positions of need, and if the Patriots can hit on half of them, that'll be considered a success. Erik Scalavino

With all the talk about the Patriots drafting a QB, why is Chad Kanoff (6-4, 219) with his 4.91 40-yard dash time and 73.2% single season pass completion Ivy League record, plus enough smarts to attend Princeton, seeming to fly under everyone's radar? Is BB keeping this guy under wraps as a surprise secret?Steve Cook

First of all, Steve, every single team in the NFL is familiar with Kanoff. It's not in Belichick's power to keep such a player a "secret." And for the record, he's absolutely on New England's radar, as evidenced by the fact that the Patriots held a private workout with him recently. Erik Scalavino

What do you see in Malcolm Mitchell and Derek Rivers? I really liked the Rivers draft pick and was looking forward to him suiting up. Do you think he will become our starting LE/RE? Malcolm Mitchell had a great chemistry and connection with Brady and put up better numbers as a rookie than Deion Branch did with Brady. How much do you think his injury will affect him?Isaac Harrington

Both young players have a lot of catching up to do as a result of their knee injuries. Of the two, Rivers might have the better chance of making a regular impact this year, just because of the need for pass rushers and lack of solidified jobs at that spot. Mitchell has a lot more talent and competition in front of him. Make no mistake, though, both players have much to prove this summer, not least of which is how effective they can be coming off serious injuries. Erik Scalavino

Our offense tends to like dynamic backs. Do you think losing [Dion] Lewis will be more of a hindrance than anticipated? I love [Rex] Burkhead and [James] White, but the former was banged up last year, and the latter wasn't involved as much as expected. Do you see the Patriots bringing in another pass catching back? Do you think with the signing of [Jeremy] Hill that [Mike] Gillislee's days are numbered? Realistically, what would you say our backfield looks like going into the season?Robert Hayes

The simple answers are, to your first question, No, I don't; to the second, probably not; quite possibly to the third.

Lewis was a dynamic element to New England's offense, but White and Burkhead are equally capable of producing from pass-catching standpoint. Lewis was definitely more effective  between the tackles, but that's probably why the team wanted to bring in someone like Hill to challenge Gillislee, who was expected to be that traditional runner, but failed to live up to expectations in his first season as a Patriot.

With rosters at a maximum of 90 at the start of the spring practices, the potential exists for a young back to be added to the roster, but whoever it is will face an uphill battle to win a spot. There's a lot of football between now and roster cut-down day on Labor Day Weekend, but I expect there to be a full committee of backs, as there typically are, with as many as five making the 53-man roster. Erik Scalavino

[Tom] Brady's cap hit this year is reported to be $22 million. [Rob] Gronkowski appears to be in contract renegotiation mode. Since Brady often restructures to team's benefit for cap space, do you foresee Gronk getting a new deal?Joe Kilc

Possibly, although it's getting later in the offseason than I would have expected for such deals to be consummated, thus reducing the likelihood that either will occur. Erik Scalavino

I believe that the Patriots should stick with the receiver core that they have. What do you think about adding a TE at 31 and trading Gronk?Chris Emerson

I have always said I have zero interest – repeat, ZERO – in seeing the Patriots part with the best tight end in the history of football. Erik Scalavino

[Patriots owner Robert] Kraft's comment on Gronkowski wasn't clear to me. Did he mean that it was "not an issue" because if the Patriots decide to trade him, they'll trade him, or, as I hope, does it mean that the Patriots have no intention to trade him?Folger MacFadden

I can't speak directly for the owner, but I interpreted his remarks as the latter, that Gronk is here and will remain so. Erik Scalavino

Matt [Patricia, the former defensive coordinator] went to Detroit and rumors are that play-calling duties will fall to LB coach Brian Flores. Do you think he will eventually get the title of D.C as the year progresses?Will McKennery

Not during the season, no, as that's not how Bill Belichick normally does business. He picks his coaching staff and assigns titles before the season. Any changes or promotions typically happen afterward. If Flores acquits himself well in his new role, he will likely get the added DC title in a year or two, just as Patricia did before him. Erik Scalavino

What would your Patriots preseason QB roster look like? How many QBs, in total, should they have available, during the preseason? What ratio of Pats QBs would be vets, and what ratio would be rookies?John Moore

Mine would look like this: 1) Tom Brady, 2) Jimmy Garoppolo, 3) Rookie QB(s) to be named later, because in my hypothetical world, Jimmy G never gets traded. In the real world, however, he's a 49er now, so, just keep my list the same, swapping Brian Hoyer for Garoppolo and keeping the rookie passer I'm certain will be brought in, either throughout the draft, as an undrafted rookie free agent, or possibly both.

Chances are, there'll only be three passers in camp, because it's rare for the Patriots to bring four players onto the preseason roster at that position, but I'm not ruling it out this year given how many seemingly gifted rookie QBs are in this year's crop. Even if there isn't one sure-fire young quarterback the Patriots like, they could conceivably hold a competition between two above-average players to vie for a potential third-string job. Erik Scalavino


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