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Ask PFW: Feeling a draft

Slightly more than two weeks remain prior to the 2015 NFL Draft and Patriots Nation fills out Ask PFW with a litany of draft-related queries.

Love listening to you every week (on the PFW in Progress online radio show on Tuesday and Thursday noon-2 pm ET or via podcast at any time!) down here in Australia. Was just wondering what your thoughts were on DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu out of Oregon? I thought he was a pretty good player before his ACL injury and could be a high-value pick in the middle rounds of the draft.

Sean Jessiman

[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="319697"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]Ekpre-Olomu certainly represents value given his knee injury this late in the process. The only question is how far the injury will push him down the board. He's a small but seemingly fearless player with experience in man and zone and 40 college starts under his belt. He's a smooth cover guy who should have a real upside, even if he's not really available to do anything during his rookie season. As maybe a fourth- or fifth-round pick I'd be ready to pounce. But given the Patriots other needs and need for a game-ready player at the cornerback position, I probably couldn't justify taking a chance too much higher than that.

Andy Hart

Any update on the tampering issue with the JETS? And will the NFL act before the draft? Thanks Guys!!!

Russell Forry

I have heard nothing. And I find that crazy. Not sure what is taking so long given that Woody Johnson made his comments in a public setting for all the world to see and hear. He also then reportedly apologized to Robert Kraft for the comments. I would think the league would want to conclude its investigation into the Jets prior to the draft so that any penalty for New York and compensation to the Patriots would be taken care of in this year's draft. Even if the Jets own laughable complaint of the Patriots tampering after Revis signed with New York is slowing down the process I can't see why it wouldn't all come to a head before the draft. Of course I feel the same way about the Wells reports and that's taking forever as well.

Andy Hart

Last year was the first time I actually thought it would have been the best move for the Pats to trade down and out of the first round, but let's give [Dominique] Easley a chance to prove his worth. This draft once again seems like a perfect year for the Bill to go back to his old ways and bail out of the first round. Which teams do you see the Patriots potentially trading with and what should we get from them in return. Also, I feel there is no way Bill passes on at least one of the many talented WR in this year's crop, even though we know he is historically not the best at picking them. With this group he just can't miss. Which WR(s) do you see best fitting the Patriots needs on offense, and what round do you think it'll happen? I'm saying [Sammie] Coates or [Nelson] Agholor, what are your thoughts? Thanks for the insight.*

Mike "The Quiet Man" Ruiz

Certainly this feels like a year that Belichick would consider trading down. Heck, he considers trading down and out every year. There are financial considerations. There is also the fact that people are already saying that "there is little difference between No. 23 and No. 50" in this year's draft class. That may or not be true. Probably not. But the exact deal and potential trade partner would be based on which players remain on the board. Quarterbacks are always interesting at the final pick of the first round as teams try to jump up and get a guy who might be the next one after the so-called elites are gone. But any "star" player falling could produce a trade. And the value of the trade will depend on the value of the pick – which players are there and how many teams are looking to deal. Minnesota sent the Patriots a second, third, fourth and seventh for the 29th pick in 2013. Of course New Orleans sent a first rounder a year later and a second-round pick for the 28th pick in 2011. If I could get the latter trade this year, I'd do it. But I'd be less inclined to do the Minnesota deal because I think the Patriots need to leave the draft with starting caliber players at a numbers of spots and the closer to the top you pick the better chance you have of getting those guys. As for the receivers, I think the Patriots could use a mid-round pick on a bigger-bodied speed burner for the outside.. I don't see the team trading up to get a top target, but one of the guys you mentioned would be interesting if he slipped to the third round. I wouldn't think the team would pull the trigger much higher than that given all the needs on defense and the returning talent on offense.

Andy "The Annoying Man" Hart


Kyle L.

I don't have a ton of expectations for Buchanan at this point. I think he's a guy with limited size and upside. He's probably, at best, a rotational backup. Moore I'd like to see in camp before I set any expectations. He was making a huge jump from Division II football. (Tell that to Malcolm Butler!) He has a lot to like in terms of size and athleticism. Even Belichick said Moore was making one of the biggest jumps of anyone as a rookie last year. Let's see what he looks like with a year of pro football – nutrition, practice, studying, coaching, strength work, etc. – under his belt. Maybe he's nothing more than a camp body and backup rotational type. Or maybe he can be much Moore than that. (See what I did there?!)

Andy Hart

I wonder why there's no update on Dan Connolly? Last time I checked, he's still a free agent. The team lacks depth on OL and he's a player who knows the system, and most importantly, played well in the last several years. You guys have any insights? Thank you.

John Lee

I have wondered the same thing. Connolly remains a free agent. My gut has told me all along that he would re-sign. Clearly he hasn't been blown away by any offers on the open market. Aside from a reported visit to Tampa Bay, I'm not even sure how much interest the versatile veteran has garnered this spring. In an ideal world I think he'd be back for at least another year. A rookie draft pick would battle for a starting job at one of the guard spots and Ryan Wendell would be battling for a job/backup job/roster spot. I still think there is a strong shot that's how things play out.

Andy Hart

We all know that BB values versatility in his players. There seems to be several players that may be available in the first two rounds of the draft that can offer the positional versatility that the Patriots like. Do you think the Pats will target any of the following players based on their versatility: Shaq Thompson (S/LB), Eric Rowe (S/CB), Tony Lippett (WR/CB) or Quinten Rollins (CB/S)?

Zach Strong

I would not be surprised if the team has interest in some or all of the guys you mentioned. I'm not sure any would targets, though. Thompson is the most intriguing to me. Belichick has always seemed to like oversized safeties who can play a hybrid-linebacker role. That isn't likely to change given the 4-2-5 scheme that became a trend last year in New England. Thompson brings that unique size and skill set. Rowe is also a consideration given the team's overall needs in the back end. Collins I think has a future as a true cornerback assuming he can continue to develop after just one very impressive season of college football. My guess would be that Lippett would be the least attractive prospects for the Patriots, but I would never rule him out given the need for high-end talent at cornerback and wide receiver more than developmental depth.

Andy Hart

Do you think there is a legit chance we trade up to get Todd Gurley if he doesn't drop to us at #32?

M.J. Rhett

No, not really. I think the Patriots would have to consider Gurley – the elite running back talent in this year's class and a potential Pro Bowl running back – if he slips to 32. I don't, however, see the team using more assets to move up to get him. New England seems quite comfortable with the committee approach and developing bodies within that committee. The heart of the offense is the passing game and given all the team's needs on defense trading up to get a running back – even a potentially elite one – doesn't seem to make sense. That said, I think it would be fun to see what the Patriots offense would look like with Gurley added to the mix.

Andy Hart

Certainly we need some depth at off-the-line linebacker, but do you see Belichick drafting 2 players or drafting one and using a player already on the roster, like Morris, Fleming, Gordon or Skinner?

Gregorio Pampoloni

My gut says the Patriots will draft one linebacker in the middle rounds and at least one of the guys you mentioned will be in the mix come September. I actually think there is a pretty strong group of mid-round linebacker talents in this class who have the the chance to develop into solid backups and special teams contributors. Kansas' Ben Heeney and Baylor's Bryce Hager are just a couple of those names who might be able to fill a Dane Fletcher-like role with even more upside. Beyond that I'm interested to see what Gordon can do this summer and preseason.

Andy Hart

Is there any chance the Pats trade up to grab one of the best WRs in this year's draft? Adding a WR like Kevin White could have an immediate impact.

Jim Castellone

I don't see any way that happens. White could be a top-10 pick. That would require a boatload for the Patriots to move up, almost an insurmountable amount. Even if a guy like that slipped some, I just can't overlook all the needs on defense to add what I think would be a luxury on offense. Tom Brady is back. So is his elite target, Rob Gronkowski. There is even a decent amount of experienced returning depth in the passing game with Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola. The offense has plenty to be a championship unit. The same can't be said for the defense. Trading up to add to the offense just doesn't seem like a wise plan, especially that far for a wide receiver.

Andy Hart

Thanks for keeping us rabid Pats fans chomping at the bit in the offseason. But I have to take issue with a couple of things- I totally disagree that AP is a character issue that would be bad for the team. So he disciplined his kid the same way he was disciplined as a child. He also said that he has learned and realizes that it is not the best way... have not the Patriots dealt with and utilized much worse (Blount with a suspension for punching a teammate, and also for substance abuse)? And many others (like Corey Dillon) that have behaved quite well as Patriots. Maybe he is too expensive, but maybe he takes Ridley's place for decent money and gives the Patriot offense that explosive running game that leaves the AFC East and anybody else unfortunate enough to face us in the dust on the way to ring #5... I'm sure AP would see the benefit to that accomplishment in his career. BTW, he catches out of the backfield pretty well. The second is Duron Harmon jumping over a live play instead of making a play that he was coming over to assist anyways. Harmon is a good player, but avoiding the play? Hello? I like him, but he doesn't seem to be "heady" enough to be any more than a rotational guy on the back end of the D. Sorry the rant was so long.

Doug Tozier

First, I always thought that Adrian Peterson's nickname was AD, as in All Day. But everyone seems to just use his initials now. What do I know? Second, I want no part of Peterson. Not only is he going to be too costly – both in trade and cash money – but I don't think he really has learned from the situation. I think he did a terrible thing that there is no excuse for. Discipline crossed the line into assault. I'm not OK with that and I don't think he's handled the situation well since the beating. He has the right to continue his career, but I wouldn't want him on my team. Harmon may or may not have a future as a key player on defense. But I don't necessarily base it on him jumping over the Jermaine Kearse after the crazy catch in the Super Bowl. He should have fallen on him. But that doesn't mean Harmon can't play. I do think players worry too much about flags at times. I think QBs take advantage of this when they scramble. My gut tells me, based on skill not his jumping over a live receiver, that Harmon will never be a starting-caliber player. But one play does not a career make.

Andy Hart

Last season the Cowboys made a significant (and out of character) draft choice that finally put them in the playoffs- Zach Martin Guard at #16. Are there any 1st round comparisons in this year's guard class to an impact guard that might be available for the Patriots to keep Tommy upright and the running game chugging along? Of course Scar's (Dante Scarnecchia) retirement tour will probably result in a 4th rounder that outperforms the 1st round guys, but just asking...

Matt Esecson

The top comp for Martin might be Iowa's Brandon Scherff who may be the top lineman taken, a tackle who could end up as a guard in the NFL. Another would be Florida State's Cameron Erving, who played tackle then bumped to center last year for the Seminoles. He certainly could end up at guard. A.J. Cann, from South Carolina and FSU's Tre Jackson are two more true guards who have the talents to hit the ground running as high-end rookie starters. I think Jackson might end up making the most sense for the Patriots as a potential second-round pick.

Andy Hart

As mentioned a million times by fans and PFW, Belichick constantly trading down for more draft picks has left some great players up for grabs. What player you guys at PFW would most like to have held onto the pick and selected?

Stephen Cronin

Wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant in 2010 certainly are names that may have been interesting to see paired with Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. Clay Matthews is another guy who would have looked good in a Patriots defensive uniform, even if I didn't really think so at the time.

Andy Hart

Mine is more of a statement than a question. People are acting like Darrelle Revis is the only reason we won the Super Bowl this year. They want to point to the last 2 AFC championship losses, then we got Revis and went all the way. What they fail to mention is the last 2 AFC championship games we were without Gronk, and in the Super Bowl in 2011 Gronk was limping around the field. We scored 17, 13 and 16 points in those losses. This postseason with a healthy Gronk, we scored 35, 45 and 28 against the best defense in the NFL, while the defense still allowed 31 against Baltimore and 24 against Seattle, even with Revis. That's not too far off the 22, 28 and 26 the defense allowed in our previous 3 postseason losses. I'd say we still have our most important player (after Brady). Thoughts?

Anthony Wyrick

This is a point that I made often in the days and weeks after the Super Bowl. Many talk-radio types made it sound like there was a direct, obvious, indisputable connection between signing Revis and winning the first Super Bowl in a decade. They ignored the fact that Gronkowski was healthy for the first time in the postseason. Clearly Revis made the team better and helped it win a Super Bowl. But a healthy Gronk was just as valuable and maybe even more so. Could the Patriots have won the Super Bowl without Revis? Maybe. Without Gronk? Maybe. Likely, though, they needed all three stars – including Brady – to get the job done and bring a fourth Lombardi Trophy to Foxborough.

Andy Hart

There's a lot of mock drafts saying the Patriots will take Byron Jones the cornerback out of Connecticut. I am unsure if this would be a Bill Belichick pick. Does he have everything you look for in terms of size, speed, and ball skills? Yes, but he looks like a Devon McCourty like player that would fit in free safety spot nicely. The Patriots also had little success the last time they took a UConn corner, by means of Darius Butler who was hyped up and seen as a late first round pick then fell to the second and only last 2 years in a Pats uniform. I think Jones would be a nice pick at 64 but 32 is a stretch in my eyes.

Benjamin Stolt

I kind of agree with you on all accounts. Jones' stock has seemingly risen since he set a "world record" in the broad jump at the Combine, among his overall impressive workout. He's a good player with some obvious measurables. He has experience at corner and safety. He has size. Is he a first-round pick? That seems to be where his rise is taking him in the process. I'm not sure he's that good of a player, but it only takes one team for him to be just that.

Andy Hart

We really need to draft a RB, we have Blount, Gray, Bolden (he play a few snaps last season, I remember him making the winning first down against the Jets) and it looks like Cadet is gonna take the role of Shane Vereen/ Kevin Faulk... LeGarrette is gonna be suspended only one game, Jonas can make the job for the opener season game so, its important draft a HB in this draft.

Alejandro Carrillo

I do think the Patriots still need to add one more body to the running back depth chart. I'd actually prefer that to be a veteran, but it could also be one of the many names available in a very deep draft class. There are bodies on the depth chart, but all after Blount are major question marks in my mind. None has proven himself reliable in any tangible way. While I'm not worried about the opener with Blount being out for a game, the overall depth could be an issue over a long season. But Belichick has made the committee work in the past in a variety of ways and he'll likely do it again behind Brady, almost regardless of whether another option is brought aboard or not.

Andy Hart

How much, if at all, does the fifth-year option (which only first-round picks have) factor into the team's decision to move out of, or back into, the first round?

David Beckett

I think for teams moving into the end of the first round it's a bigger deal than for teams moving out. A team trading into the end of the round for what it likely feels is a potential star player would earn an extra year of contract stability in the first round rather than having to deal with the player a year earlier if he were taken in the second. But a team trading out of the first round might think the savings in salary/bonus early in the contract, as well as the extra trade compensation might outweigh the year of free agency that can be avoided. It's not cheap to keep a player on a fifth-year option -- $7-plus million for Nate Solder and potentially Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower – but it's less expensive than a franchise tag or a potential long-term extension. In the end, though, it's really all about the player you are considering drafting and what his overall value is at that point in the process.

Andy Hart

Since the draft is coming up do you think the Pats should draft or get from free agency a cornerback, DT and OG?

Jerry Ford

I think the ship has sailed on getting a high-end cornerback in free agency. That's why I think trying to draft a starting-caliber player at the position has become the top draft need and why I have targeted Marcus Peters as a possible pick (red flags and all) for New England late in the first round (if he doesn't go earlier to Pittsburgh, Baltimore or others). You could still probably add capable talent at defensive tackle and guard in free agency (including re-signing Dan Connolly) but I'd also like to see talented young players added at those positions on draft weekend as well.

Andy Hart

Darren Waller...he played safety in high School. Good tackler with good coverage. At 6-6 and can run 4:35, good WR too. What do you think about his tape?

Chalwe Kaoma

I haven't seen a ton on Waller yet, but he seems like a real project. Can't argue with his size or his speed – a 4.4 at the Combine. But he's another in the line of Georgia Tech deep threats with limited polish. He has limited production and experience on anything other than deep balls. He's going to take some serious seasoning and work to get into a regular role in an NFL offense. On one hand that doesn't sound like a fit for a tough New England scheme with a quarterback who has a history of trouble getting together on a productive page with young receivers. But, given the team being in the market for a deep threat, maybe it would be worth a late-round pick if Waller is still on the board.

Andy Hart


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