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Ask PFW: Forecasting the draft

What are the odds of the Pats signing Jamie Sharper to fill the void of Bruschi this season? Would he be too much of a salary cap issue or would he be a good fit?
James D.

I think Sharper would be a great fit in the Patriots defense. He's played in 3-4 sets in the past with both Baltimore and Houston. He's big enough to play inside but athletic enough to be used in different ways, a quality the Patriots like their linebackers to have. Sharper said recently he wished to make a decision quickly (perhaps he's already done it) with Seattle, Cincinnati and Minnesota reportedly in the mix. But you don't generally see the Patriots name included on these lists even when they wind up signing a player. I'm not sure what kind of salary Sharper would command but with the draft quickly approaching most teams have used up the majority of their free agent budgets. So if Sharper is still looking to break the bank somewhere he quite possibly could be out of luck. I think it would cost the Patriots more than the veteran minimum to sign Sharper but I don't see a huge signing bonus and potential cap burden, either.
Paul Perillo

The Pats pick up quality players by trading their late round picks to other teams. How come the Pats rarely ever trade their own players to other teams for draft picks?
Moses Ip

The Patriots like to trade … period. Since Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli took over in 2000, New England has made 25 trades and 13 of them have come during draft weekend. Many of those deals have involved the swapping of picks to move up or down, but there have been several involving players for draft picks as well. The most obvious would be Drew Bledsoe going to Buffalo for a first-round pick in 2002. They also traded Grant Williams to St. Louis for a seventh-round pick in 2002, Greg Randall to Houston for a fifth-round pick in 2003 and Tebucky Jones to New Orleans for three picks in 2003.
Paul Perillo

I sit here and wonder about Coach B and his use of versatile players, and I see Matt Jones, the once QB and now soon to be WR from Arkansas as a perfect fit for the Patriots organization. I have agreed on most draft picks coach Belichick has made, (except P.K. Sam) and see Jones as a perennial Hall of Famer. I believe it would be a great pick, as Jones led all SEC QBs in rushing yards (and broke the SEC record as well) and had over 2,000 passing yards on a Razorback team with subpar receivers at best. If you worked on his fumbling problem, you could draft him as a WR and later on convert him into a great backup for Brady. As for Davey, he has no mobility in the pocket, and Jones could become the next "Michael Vick," well, at least his prototype. Anyways, I believe if you can grab Jones, whose stock has been rising, you will do very well with him, as he can do many great things.Joshua Koeppe

I was listening to the radio and I heard that QB/TE/WR Matt Jones was expected to be a very late first-round pick. Do you think that the Patriots have a shot at him and if so would they take him or prefer to take a linebacker or DB?
Jake Carden

Matt Jones has definitely become the "hidden gem" of the 2005 draft. The considerable athletic skills he displayed at the combine have put him into first-round contention, which is not bad for a guy who will be looking to play a new position in the NFL. As a quarterback, Jones is nothing special. He doesn't throw the ball well and is much more comfortable running. I personally don't understand the hype surrounding this guy. Maybe he'll become a great receiver as a pro, but he's never played the position before. I certainly wouldn't want to invest a high pick on a guy looking to make that kind of transformation. You mention his gaudy rushing totals at Arkansas, but the SEC is a predominantly passing league. Most of the quarterbacks – like Jason Campbell, Chris Leak and David Greene – are looking to pass. Jones is usually looking to run. From what the scouts have said, no one in the NFL is interested in Jones as a quarterback so having him as a backup is probably far-fetched. I'm intrigued by Jones' athleticism and size, but I wouldn't want to invest a first-round pick to get him.
Paul Perillo

Some people were surprised about Patten not being picked up by the Pats and him signing with Washington. When you get the "3 Games to Glory III DVD," take a look at the pass from Brady to Patten over the middle that he missed. I saw it over and over on the NFL Network and it is clear that he was more worried about getting hit then catching the ball. He took his eye off the ball way before the ball was near him and the ball was very catchable. If he caught the ball, he would have not been hit any harder then he was. This was the Super Bowl and this is the Pats, the standards are higher, he just didn't want it bad enough. So, don't feel bad for him that the Pats didn't sign him. What is your thought on this PFW?Dave Irwin
Hershey, Pa.

You don't want to re-sign a guy on your team because he failed to catch one pass? I'm glad you weren't evaluating the 2002 season because you surely would have gotten rid of David Givens, too. Remember when Givens was a rookie and he took a big shot from Brian Urlacher over the middle against the Bears? Givens was never the same that year and dropped a few passes the rest of the way. But now Givens is one of the most physical receivers in the league and a huge part of the Patriots offense. Patten is a serviceable receiver who had a nice run in New England. He played well during his time here but Washington obviously wanted him when free agency began and he took a good deal for himself. I personally will miss his pleasant demeanor and 50 or so catches a season. As a third or fourth receiver, a team could do much worse than David Patten.
Paul Perillo

A theory for your consideration and comment: The Patriots, with their semi-lowball signing bonus situation, are sending a message to Brady that they think he is a product of the system rather than vice-versa. If pressed, the team may choose to let him play out his remaining contract years while grooming his eventual replacement, perhaps Redman or a draft choice this year, as opposed to letting a star quarterback contract mortgage the future a la the Colts. I don't know if this is at all realistic, but from afar it would seem to be a possibility.
Phil Troutman
Greenbrier, Pa.

I don't think the Patriots are sending any messages to Brady or anyone else. Belichick has said many times that there's no quarterback he'd rather have more than Brady. He's been asked several times if he believed Brady was the product of the system and every time he's shot that theory down. I asked Charlie Weis once if Brady was a system quarterback and he said, "Yeah, he'd be great in every system you could think of." The Patriots don't want Brady going anywhere and they'll continue working to make sure that he never leaves. How that contract is structured remains to be seen. But having a backup plan in case things don't work out isn't "sending a message." It's simply being prepared for all scenarios. If the Patriots draft a quarterback later this month, it won't be to send a message to Brady.
Paul Perillo

Both David Terrell and Terry Glenn were first-round picks who have struggled in the NFL, but as far as I've seen, Terrell's off the field problems are nothing compared to Glenn's. In my opinion, Glenn is a head-case. He's had emotional and psychological problems, which has caused struggles in the NFL. Terrell has unpaid traffic tickets. I mean COME ON!!! It's not like he beats his girlfriend. It wasn't like he had a drug problem ... he has unpaid traffic tickets. A LOT of people have unpaid traffic tickets. When you think about someone having off the field problems, that is not what comes to mind. I don't think he's going to be Terry Glenn, or Terrell Owens. I think he's going to be David Terrell, whoever that may be.
Brian J

I agree that Terrell's off-field "problems" have been very minor when compared to many others. I think it was a great signing with very little risk. If he doesn't pan out, the Patriots won't lose much in terms of the salary cap if they cut him. But on the field, Terrell hasn't been great. You criticize Glenn and TO but their production has far exceeded Terrell's. Maybe a change of scenery will be just the thing Terrell needs to fulfill his potential. I think he was really a victim of a poor offense with the Bears and Chicago's instability at quarterback has been a major factor in his low numbers. That won't be the case in New England.
Paul Perillo

I know you're thinking is corner and linebacker in the early rounds. But in looking at the prospects, Thurman, Crowder, Ruud, Burnett at lb and the corners Webster, Washington, Browning, Miller, McFadden, Perkins, and Jackson, I just don't see where any of these guys are better than the current 53-man roster with the exception of Hank Poteat. I would lean to LSU's Webster but with Poteat, Gay, Samuel, Starks, Poole, Reid, Charlton, Wilson, Harrison, and Scott how many dbacks can you have? I think this team is so loaded depth wise with signed veteran players that it's going to be very difficult for this year's draftees to even make the squad. Or BB is going to cut some veterans that may surprise all of us. Have you examined the roster spots that are available out of the 53, and if so how many spots do you think we have for either a draft pick or a free agent? This could be the deepest Patriot team in team history, I know under Fairbanks we had similarly deep roster, but not this deep, agree? Who's going to get cut? Any early predictions?
Derron Darcy

While I agree that the Patriots are a very talented team, I disagree that they're so loaded the draft picks won't make the team. I'll focus on the defensive backs since that's the position you specifically mentioned. I don't think guys like Reid, Charlton and Poteat are solid locks to make the team. If a kid like Webster, or another corner from the draft, were selected he would certainly have every opportunity to earn a job. Same with linebackers. Chatham, Banta-Cain, Klecko, Davis and Alexander are promising players but will anyone be stunned if one or more of this group is not around after cuts? It's almost impossible to look at the current roster and determine how many are locks to make the team come September. But it's a safe bet that many guys who were around last year will not be in 2005. That's what competition is all about and Belichick has worked hard to create this kind of training camp atmosphere.
Paul Perillo

One of the most common fan-based threads on PFW in regards to the upcoming draft is that the Patriots will target a linebacker for their first pick. However, if history prevails then the Pats will take the best value available regardless of position. Now it's unlikely that they will draft another TE but I would not be totally shocked if they did. Drafting based on need only works when sufficient talent exists at the position you are trying to fill. This year's crop of LBs appears to be thin according to most experts, so why select a marginal player with a high pick when there may be greater value available when it comes time to pick? It also appears that the Pats have already come to this conclusion as well and more signings like Monty Beisel will be forthcoming. I'd like to know what the experts at PFW think?
John Farrell

I think you make a lot of good points but I'm not totally in agreement with your assessment of Belichick's drafts. In 2003 he took Ty Warren to fill a need along the defensive line. While I can't say for sure where the Patriots had Warren on their draft board, none of the pre-draft ratings had him anywhere near the 13th best prospect in the draft. Obviously the Patriots felt he was a good player or they wouldn't have drafted him. But they also felt he filled a need. As far as tight end is concerned, I would be absolutely stunned if they took another one in the first round, whether they believe a tight end is the best player available or not. I totally agree with you about this year's crop of linebackers, however. From what I've seen, none of those inside guys – Crowder, Thurman, etc. – are worthy of being selected in the first round. Some teams may disagree with my very uneducated opinion and take one. The Patriots won't take "a marginal prospect," as you called it, just to fill a need. But if their ratings have several players grouped closely together, they will try to fill the need. And even with Monty Beisel, linebacker is still a need.
Paul Perillo

Has there been any mention of fan favorite Troy "What-Do -You-Want-Me-to-Do-Coach" Brown moving into some sort of coaching position? His leadership and motivational skills alone would make him a strong candidate. Any room? Then, I suppose, if someone goes down he can be signed and not have to move . . . Also, who gets Super Bowl rings on the team? Is there a minimum number of games a player has to play (or be on the roster)? Do they have to be on the team for the Super Bowl? How about the PUP and IR guys? Anyone else?
Fred Duncan

Hey Guys, I was just wondering if anyone's heard about Troy Brown, Did the Pats ever end up signing him again or is he going to play somewhere else or is he all done with football? That would really be too bad; He is a remarkable player and a great role model and inspiration to many people.
Anthony Choquette

As far as I know, Troy is still planning on playing in 2005. I haven't heard anything about him signing anywhere, but Troy hasn't indicated any retirement plans. I also don't know whether or not he'd be interested in coaching. The Patriots really don't have any openings on their staff at this point anyway. As for Super Bowl rings, it's pretty much up to the individual team. Anyone who finishes the season in the organization (PUP, IR, practice squad included) usually gets one, but it's up to the discretion of the team to decide who gets one among guys who spent time with the club during the course of the year.
Paul Perillo

What can you tell me about Lance Mitchell? I heard he would have been a 1st round pick if he had a torn ACL in 2003 and had a down year in 2004. From what I know of ACL injuries, it takes two years to fully recover. So he should be back to 100% this year. His stock is somewhere in the mid to late 2nd round. If he fully recovers, he could be the steal of the draft. I think if I'm right, he could be the answer. I haven't heard about any off the field problems. He doesn't bring the baggage of a Channing Crowder or Odell Thurman, Crowder had 3 knee surgeries, so he should be more of an injury concern. He has great lateral movement, which gives him sideline-to-sideline range. Barrett Ruud is terribly limited laterally. He may be the answer. We may be getting a 1st round value in the 2nd round.
Brian J

I'm not going to pretend to be a scout here, but I was unimpressed with Mitchell's highlight tape. He's a terrific athlete but seemed to be a shaky tackler. However, if he's available in the second or third round he may be the steal you say he is if he is healthy. I also agree with you in regards to Crowder, Thurman and Ruud. Of the three, only Thurman, in my mind, is worthy of consideration, and he does have quite a list of off-field concerns. But this is why the draft is fun to watch and forecast. No one is right or wrong until they players actually get out on the field.
Paul Perillo

Will Troy be a Patriot in 2005? Will I continue to be able to wear my 80 Jersey as I watch him run back punts and receive the "over the middle" balls?Nick Scarpa

Based on Belichick's comments this offseason, it would not be surprising to see Brown return to the Patriots for the 2005 season. But based on the free agent signings – Tim Dwight and David Terrell – it seems unlikely. Brown has been quiet since becoming a free agent and his name hasn't been linked to any other teams. My guess is he will not return to the Patriots but since I haven't spoken with Troy recently that's strictly a guess.
Paul Perillo

ESPN is reporting that the Pats are only under the cap by about 500K. With the signing of Terrell, at a reported 700K, we should be over. With the draft approaching, how does the team create space for the rookie contracts? Can we expect another Law/Milloy moment? How much is Brady's hit supposed to drop with the new contract? Also, if you have the info, is there an update on any negotiations about extending Dillon's contract. Even at his age, a 3-year extension would seem best for both sides?
Greg Mowery

The Patriots made some minor contract alterations to get Terrell under the cap. Teams are not allowed to ever be over the cap once the league year begins so the restructurings had to be made before the Terrell signing could happen. Those types of maneuverings will continue so the team can get in better cap shape before the draft picks need to be signed. Dillon was actually one of those moves. He signed a five-year extension with the first two years guaranteed. That extension lowered his cap number for 2005, which will help the team sign the rookies and other free agents.
Paul Perillo

Now that the Patriots have signed experienced, and hopefully competent if not excellent veterans: a WR(s), CB and ILB, that sort of frees up this draft to tilt more towards the value players rather than the needs players, wouldn't you say? Most positions could use extra depth (DL possibly excepted), but there aren't any more obvious and gaping holes. Brilliant below-the-radar offseason FA acquisitions if any of them play up to potential. So what do you see ahead for the draft now? Moving up to grab anyone? Is Cobbs the long-term RB answer post-Dillon? Are we going to draft a QB to hedge against losing Davey in FA? Basically, my question is, how have the past few weeks of free agency impacted the Pats draft interests?
Jason Jarvis

I really don't think the free agent moves will impact the draft much at all. Monty Beisel has nine career starts under his belt so by no means does that eliminate inside linebacker as a draft need. But the Patriots aren't going to draft a certain position regardless of need. They will rate the players as they see fit and then decide which position among those makes the most sense. There's no way of knowing just how good Cobbs is based on his limited playing time last year. He should see more action this preseason, assuming he's healthy, and hopefully we'll have a better idea of whether he can be the back of the future or not. I also would expect the Patriots to draft a quarterback if they have the opportunity.
Paul Perillo

What are your thoughts on Monty Beisel? In my opinion, he is the ILB equivalent of Mike Vrabel. He's versatile (like Bruschi, he was a college defensive end) and wasn't a regular in the defense in Kansas City until a couple of injuries occurred last year. He seems like the type of player who Belichick will be able to utilize in his system in ways other teams could not, similar to Vrabel, and could be a huge part of our defense for years. GREAT signing.

While I think Beisel was a solid signing, adding depth to a linebacker corps that needs it, I'm not sure I share your enthusiasm. First, Vrabel was behind some very good players on a very good defense in Pittsburgh. Beisel hasn't played much even though the Chiefs defense, particularly the linebackers, has been terrible in recent years. Not every player that makes a change from defensive line to linebacker is able to make the transition seamlessly. I'd assume Beisel will be better just for playing with better players and being in a successful system. Whether that means it will be a GREAT signing … I'm not sure.
Paul Perillo

USATODAY had a story about Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, in which it stated that: "When Weis arrived, he handed the offensive players the New England Patriots playbook, which is about as thick as a Bible. "It's front and back. They don't waste any paper," [ND QB Brady] Quinn says. "The last playbook was a little less thick and it wasn't front and back."" Is this for real? I love Weis and wish him the best, but what the heck is he doing with the Patriots' playbook in South Bend? Why is he showing it to college kids? Isn't this stuff proprietary information he ought not be sharing outside the Patriots? Am I missing something?
Jason Jarvis

The Patriots playbook doesn't belong to the Patriots. The system the Patriots used on offense, and will continue to use without Weis, was created by coaches – not the Patriots. It's pretty much the same system the Jets used when Weis and Belichick were part of New York's staff in the late 90s. Coaches, not teams, create the systems in place all over football. Weis has every right to use that with Notre Dame.
Paul Perillo

As a longtime reader of PFW, I know that Bryan is a lifelong Dallas fan, and Paul is a huge fan of Drew Bledsoe. Does the Bledsoe signing make Bryan happy? Has Paul painted a star on either side of his head? On another subject, do you think the Pats may be moving on without PK Sam? With Branch, Givens, Terrell, Bethel Johnson and Tim Dwight on board, that's 5 guys who have been around a bit. My guess is the Pats will still draft another receiver for a crowded group. Shocking to think that a low round pick may not pan out, which harkens back to the days of picks like Dave Stachelski, Casey Tisdale and Marcus Washington.
Ron Donaldson

I have no current plans to paint a star on my head in honor of Bledsoe's move to Dallas (although Bryan may have such a plan in his future). I'm happy that Drew is back with Bill Parcells, with whom he had his greatest success. But that's about as far as I go in terms of worship. As for PK Sam, he's certainly going to have his work cut out for him. His late-season suspension last season didn't earn him any points, and the signings could be a sign that the team is moving on. But he's a very young kid with intriguing skills. He showed flashes of talent during camp last year before getting hurt and I believe he'll get every opportunity to make the club again. One thing to keep in mind is just because a player is signed as a free agent doesn't mean he's a lock to make the team. Dwight and Terrell both signed one-year deals with minimal signing bonuses. Either or both could be gone if they don't work out.
Paul Perillo

If Colvin comes back next year as the player he was before the injury, why not give Mike Vrabel a shot as an inside linebacker? While he has great outside skills, Vrabel is a very smart linebacker with good size who could probably make a seamless transition to the inside. That would make Colvin and McGinest the starters on the outside, and Vrabel and Johnson on the inside (if Bruschi is out).

I think Vrabel is the team's best outside linebacker and I wouldn't want to move him anywhere. His biggest strength is his pass rushing ability off the edge so why would the team want to move him inside where he wouldn't be able to take advantage of those skills? And that's assuming he'd be able to make the move in the first place.
Paul Perillo

What do you guys think about Marlin Jackson? The guy is an athletic, fast, good tackling corner, who can even play safety. Almost a Eugene Wilson type. What about trading up a couple of spots and drafting a guy like David Pollack. He plays DE but could easily be moved to middle linebacker to fill the Bruschi void. Just out of curiosity, a couple of weeks ago I heard that WEEI said something about a possible trade for Brian Urlacher to fill the Bruschi hole, what was that all about? Anyways what do you see the Patriots doing in the first two rounds, and what do you see them doing to fill in for Bruschi?

I like Jackson and his versatility is another plus in his favor. He's a very aggressive player who likes to play physically. I think he'll be a good pro. As for Pollack, he's an undersized defensive end who excels as a pass rusher off the edge. I'm not sure he'd make an easy switch to middle linebacker, though. Outside guys don't usually move inside without a problem. Brian Urlacher becoming a Patriot is a rumor that doesn't seem to want to go away. Maybe there's something to it. If Bruschi were unable to play in 2005 (or beyond), Urlacher would be a great replacement. It would be tough for Chicago to trade him in terms of cap implications, but the Patriots certainly would be interested in taking him for the right price.
Paul Perillo

Would the Pats consider drafting a kicker? I don't know if it makes sense, but I hear that the kicker from Ohio State is supposed to be awesome. He could be difficult to get, but only if there are signs that Adam is losing his touch (which I've not seen any signs in REAL games).Jack

Belichick drafted a kicker in 2001 – Owen Pochman in the seventh round. Mike Nugent of Ohio State is considered one of the better kicking prospects in recent years and will likely go in the middle rounds, which is probably higher than the Patriots would be willing to select a kicker since Vinatieri is still here and going strong. If a kicker is available in the seventh round, I wouldn't be surprised to see Belichick take a shot.
Paul Perillo

The Patriots have Brad, Redman and Davey, but is it true that the patriots are looking into Doug Flutie or Vinny Testaverde? Flutie, to me is better in certain game situations than say Redman and Davey. He's got the legs and can make the throws but Testaverde has the experience. What are the chances that they be signed?
Colin Stackhouse

I haven't any rumors regarding Flutie or Testaverde signing. And I really don't think either makes much sense considering their considerable ages. The Patriots need to develop a young backup and Redman and Davey are better alternatives. If neither proves capable of handling the job, then maybe the Patriots should look into signing a veteran to fill the role.
Paul Perillo

With the loss of Joe Andruzzi, the Pats could use another body for the offensive line. Do you see them possibly going after a free agent like Dan Neil? Or do you see them filling this need in the later rounds of the draft?Jay Corbielle

I definitely expect the Patriots to draft at least one or two offensive linemen. They need some depth up front and the draft is the best place to find it. I also wouldn't be surprised to see the veteran signing – like Neil – since Belichick has tried to sign a guard pretty much every year without much success. With Andruzzi gone, a free agent probably makes more sense this year than in the past.
Paul Perillo

I was wondering if there has ever been a player on the team by the name of Angel Darius Ward, especially from 1994- 1996.
Thomas Gaddy

According to the team's media guide, no player with that name has ever played for the Patriots.
Paul Perillo

First off, When Corey Dillon got his bonus for rushing for 600 yards, does that get added on to the cap the next year? How do incentive-laden contracts work? Also, the Kid from UNLV in this year's draft, Adam Seward, seems like a great fit for the Pats. Everything I have read says that he isn't athletic enough and has him going in a late round. However, at the combine I heard he ran a 4.6 40, and bench pressed more than any other linebacker. What is your take on this kid?
The Fat

Incentives come in two ways: likely to be earned and not likely to be earned. Basically, if the player accomplished the feat the incentive calls for during the preceding season, it is considered likely to be earned. In that case, the cap hit is placed on that season's cap. If the player did not achieve the level the incentive calls for during the preceding season, it's considered not likely to be earned. In that case, like Dillon's last year, the cap charge goes to the following year. Dillon did not rush for the incentive levels during his final year with the Bengals, so when he reached those marks in 2004, the cap charges apply in 2005.
Paul Perillo

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