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Ask PFW I: The tribe has spoken

This was a solid draft. Trading to out years is the right thing to do when you have no glaring holes to fill, and the Pats did the best job possible trading picks this year for better picks next year, when the draft is presumably stronger. When you look at the needs of the organization (depth), the resources it has to work with (limited cap space), and the price of the players at the positions where they were drafted (guards are cheap), this draft makes perfect sense. ILB and CB can be shored up in FA, and the Pats have done well so far in that regard. Probably not finished. So my question is, why do we Pats fans run for the Kool-Aid whenever our team doesn't make the sexy pick?Andy Avery

Based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction to this draft, I'd say the Kool-Aid sipping is coming from the opposite direction. Among the 100 or so inquiries I received this week, there really wasn't a single one criticizing much, with the possible exception of questioning the selection of a backup quarterback. That's pretty amazing since the over the top praise is no more valid than over the top criticism. Read on …
Paul Perillo

Considering where the picks were at each round, Mankins, Kaczur, Hobbs and Claridge are very good selections. With the new trio or quartet of receivers, 2 TEs, Corey Dillon and Tom Brady I would have to say that "blocking" is a pretty darn important facet of the game. Especially with the new flurry of 3-4 defenses. So given the nasty streak both new O-line recruits are known for this is great news for passing completions and run blocking. Even if Mankins and Kaczur don't start it is great insurance for the 2005 campaign. Now take a look at CB and S, the Pats continue to add players. And at LB, Monty Beisel was a great steal in my opinion, Dick Vermeil definitely thinks so. And by the time this is published we could even have Chad Brown in the LB corps. All in all I feel pretty good about the Pats going into the title run this year. Yeah I know that "O-Coordinator" is a question but remember the team is smart and who is to say Brady doesn't call a few plays now and then? After all he was pretty close to Weis and the playbook.Mike Luster

The end of the 2007 season may be a better time to look at the 2005 draft but I would like to express my views now. While reviewing the present roster with the recent draft choices in mind a case can easily be made for each one of the picks to make the 53-man squad. With Andruzzi and Klemm gone there is room for two nasty, experienced and versatile linemen in Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur. Considering the need in 2004 of Poteat and Brown in the secondary, Ellis Hobbs and James Sanders should be welcomed with open arms, especially in light of the ages of Poole, Starks and Harrison. Similar age scenarios exist with Ryan Claridge and the LBs McGinest, Johnson and Bruschi. Matt Cassel would not have been drafted if he didn't have the potential to be a starter some day and the proper attitude to work to get better. A TE that is going to run precise routes and has great hands can't be counted out, either, even if Andrew Stokes has to spend a year on the practice squad. Attach this class to the player(s) the additional 3 2006 picks gained through 2005 trades will be and this may very well be the best draft by any team in 2005.Charles Hagey

I am living in Clovis, Calif., (next to Fresno) and have attended/watched many Fresno State football games and I have to tell you, those two picks (Mankins & Sanders) are right on. Mankins is a beast and I feel will fit nicely into the tackle position and Sanders is an all out playmaker. I understand everyone's concern with these picks, not having watched these guys play, but I cheered loudly when they were made. GO PATS!!!
Greg Almeida

I am sick of hearing all the crying about the Pats drafting Mankins. As a former o-lineman I think that it is great. I thought it was the best pick they could have made. I don't think that we need cornerbacks. We don't have Ty Law anymore, get over it, we didn't have him all last year, and we have a lot of depth at the spot. Logan Mankins is a great pick up in the draft, he doesn't give up on a play, we reminds me of a guy we had years ago named John Hannah, one of the best all time if half of you even know who that is. Coach Belichick knows what he is doing, that is why we won 3 of 4 Super Bowls. The ones that are crying are the same ones that said that we shouldn't trade Bledsoe or cut Milloy… Look what happened.
Big John Cavallo

I just read ask PFW following the 2005 draft and I was shocked by the negative responses from fans. First of all, we have no right to bash BB and Pioli for their drafts, just look at how incredible the last few have been. Second of all, we put together a great draft. Mankins and Kaczur should anchor our O-Line for years to come. These guys are prototypical Patriots and solid players. We also brought in some guys with great upside on day two with Claridge and Sanders. Plus, we got 3 picks in next year's draft, which no doubt will be much stronger than this year's weak crop. So why are we whining? This year's Pats team looks primed to repeat!
Jake Sklarew

No one thought the Patriots were going to draft for the OL except the Patriots braintrust. We should know by now that Bill and Scott know a lot more than we do. NE has drafted extremely well in these 5 years. More than 1/2 the teams were trying to trade out of this draft. We very well may have done better than most people think. I, long ago, drank the Kool-Aid. We lost 2 OL this year. If this Mankins is the player BB&SP think he is, we will be gushing over the pick in a couple years (it takes that long). Has it occurred to those draft bashers that any offensive play starts with a strong OL? Look at KC or PIT. We now have a strong WR corps, 2 great TEs not to mention a 1,600-plus-yard runner who can run between the tackles.
Robert Ricci

It's hard to figure that fans ignore the fact that the Patriots organization spends thousands of hours evaluating draft prospects including film, visiting venues to see the players in action, and having players into Foxboro for a closer look. The Pats success in meeting their objective of drafting prospects with a HIGH probability of contribution is little short of astounding (after their first draft). Yet these fans want to throw out all of this work and look at mock drafts which have so little correlation in the end to the judgment of the teams or even begin to take into account that over half of these superstar draftees will never make any real contribution to their teams. However, that aside, I am going to be fascinated to see the offense next season. And a stronger OL with Mankins is a large part of that anticipation. The Pats did so well on offense this year even having to keep in the TEs for blocking to protect Brady. Can you imagine a two tight end set with Graham and Watson and an OL strong enough to protect Brady while releasing the TEs? Salivation. I would not be surprised to see a truly impressive offensive season for the Pats - I can't wait !! And I find the rest of the Pats draftees very intriguing. I fully expect one or more to be real eye-opening contributors.
Dick Brewer

I am thankful the coaches and scouts do not have many of these critical fans on their minds when they evaluate and pick players. The success of this team in the past is due, in large part, to the intelligence, diligence, and independence of the coaches. They definitely deserve more than the benefit of a doubt. Personally, I trust their eyes a lot more than some Internet draft site. When Klemm left to go to Green Bay, the safety valve for left tackle left with him. The so-called guard the Pats took with the last pick in the first round has the makings of a very decent tackle, is light on his feet, can back pedal and re-route an outside blocker around the quarterback. A few years ago another decent left tackle was taken near this position: Bruce Armstrong. Having won three out the past four Super Bowls, not too many teams are going to go out of their way to make life easy for the home team to trade down a few spots to get perfect value. Remember, Dante Scarnecchia, the offensive line coach, personally went out to California and personally worked Mankins out before the draft. When you look at the quality of the job Dante has done the past few years, who is qualified to second guess him? I say go Pats, great job!
John Walsh

Did the people upset with the Patriots draft actually bother to figure out what the team needed? They needed a nickel corner (Ellis Hobbs), a backup for Matt Light (Logan Mankins), a replacement for Joe Andruzzi (Nick Kaczur), a replacement for Bruschi (Ryan Claridge), a strong safety to backup Rodney Harrison and take over after he retires (maybe in 2 or 3 years?) (James Sanders) and a QB to develop and stow on the practice squad because next season may be Davey's last on the team (Matt Cassel). They got everything they needed (which wasn't much anyway compared with most teams), saved some salary cap space by trading away a 2nd round pick, and got 3 extra picks for next year. I'd say they did pretty darn good considering they were picking at the end of most rounds. Go Pats!
Dan Weygand

Count me amongst the people who had no real problem with the draft picks the Patriots took this year. O-line was a position of need that desperately needed some depth and if everything I've read on these kids is true, the O-line looks pretty solid for years to come. My only true issue was picking the cornerback. I know depth has been an issue in recent years but look at the logjam we have now. Chad Scott, Ty Poole, Duane Starks along with our Super Bowl starters Asante Samuel and Randall Gay. Personally, I'm sick of the bashing done against Samuel and Gay. They aren't bad. Gay had issues in the first game he played as a pro and showed steady improvement since. Both Gay and Samuel had problems defending TO in the Super Bowl, but then again, who doesn't have issues covering TO??? I personally believe that the Pats wanted Al Fincher of UConn and thought they could get him after they traded down, only to be surprised by the Saints taking him 2 picks before them. I'll hold my breath on Ellis and certainly won't bash him. And of course, a logjam at corner is a blessing and not a curse, but I do believe there were other needs and other quality players that could have been taken with that pick.
Jay Soderberg

I have to admit that after watching the draft, I was a little confused as to why New England drafted an O-Lineman, but have you seen this guy's game? He seems to be very talented, not to mention aggressive. Corey Dillon should have loved this pick, because he is going to open some big holes for him. Thanks and keep up the good feedback.
Randy King

Reading the comments on today's PFW, too many readers are making a judgment call without the benefit of seeing this young man play. I have had this opportunity and these detractors will be eating their words when Mankins gets his opportunity. This kid is a player.Paul Courtney

Hi guys, I saw a lot of negative commentary about the lineman taken with our first pick, Logan Mankins. I have to admit I'd never even heard of the guy until draft day. I am somewhat ashamed to admit I watched every single hour of draft coverage this year, and at no time did I see better performance footage from a single player drafted than that of Mankins. Offensive lineman is not an exciting position, but watching those snippets of Mankins was EXCITING! A goal line running play where he executes two flawless blocks! Did you see how quickly he moved his feet? My brother (he of the 8.5 second 40 time) could have run through that hole (DID I MENTION THAT IT WAS AGAINST GOAL LINE DEFENSE???). Two guys at the point of attack, shoved in different directions back into the end zone, by one man: Mankins. Result: TD. Another play, he shoves his man 5 yards down field, knocks him over. The guy gets up, Mankins nails him again. The guy starts to come again, BANG, Mankins hammers a third time, now 8-10 yards downfield. Guys, THAT is EXCITING football. THAT is an offensive lineman with a mean streak as wide as his shoulder blades. THAT is MY kind of FOOTBALL PLAYER. Give Mankins some love, brothers. That is the kind of football player I want on MY team.
Barry
Plymouth, N.H.

I think that all the criticism of that Pats' drafts picks is ridiculous. I guess I can only speak for myself, but Belichick and Pioli have certainly earned MY trust. How many diamonds in the rough do they have to find before some of the critics will learn that these 2 men know more about how to identify good football players for the Patriots scheme, and where the team needs help, than they do? Remember Dan Koppen? David Givens? Both of them were late round picks that are now starting. Steve Neal? They pulled him from out of nowhere. Heck...even Richard Seymour was a questionable pick at the time. All the critics wanted Bill to select David Terrell. Well now Big Sey is a perennial Pro Bowler and we signed Terrell anyways! So, for all the football know-it-alls out there, how many more championships do we need to win before you trust our beloved front office? Bill could have drafted my sister with his first pick and I would just assume he sees something in her football makeup that I don't. Let the man do what he does best, put together a championship football teams, in peace. In Bill we trust. OK, I'm done ranting.
Andy Timko

I am from the Fresno area and I was surprised as anyone that the Patriots took Mankins in the first round. However after watching him play it was a great pick. Pat Hill has often said he is the best lineman he has ever coached and as a NFL line coach that is a great compliment. This kid would pancake block a guy and if he tried to get up before the play was over he knocked him down again and again. Pat Hill plays anyone anywhere any time so he has played against many big schools. Trust me you will love this kid by the end of preseason. Also Sanders will show you the love of hitting you see with Harrison. Pat Hill also runs a program with the attitude the Patriots have "no excuses" and his favorite statement "just shut up and hit someone."
Michael Wray

I am from Almont, Mich., and grew up a Lions fan. But being an avid Michigan fan, I took to the Patriots the minute Tom Brady took the reins and have not looked back since. I love the Patriots and the team that they are. The Patriots and the Pistons in basketball I think play so much alike. Great defense, enough offense and great teamwork and none of the ego stuff. They are stars, but star as a team. Last, Ryan Claridge grew up a little over a 100 feet from my front door. He and his brother Travis were little kids when I moved to California. I have followed his career and believe that he is going to fit in great with the Patriots. I was hoping the Lions would draft him. I believe he was the heaviest linebacker in the draft, which is good for stopping the run and like Mr. Belichick said, he is always around the ball and has played in both the 3-4 and 4-3. His stocked dropped because he was not fully healthy to work out at the combine. And something most of the fans do not know. Travis was the only two-sport athlete at UNLV one or two of the years that he played both sports. That he also played tennis should tell you something, he can move on his feet. My high school has one of the top public school tennis programs in Michigan and he played on the team. Give him a chance and I think he is going to be a great addition to the Patriots and listening to his comments, he is already responding like a team player.
Jim Leinonen
Signal Hill, Calif.

I don't know why everyone is getting so feisty about drafting Mankins in the first round. From what I read about him he seems like someone who will make an immediate impact. It all starts in the trenches, and although the Pats have been doing well with who they had on the O-Line, adding a higher quality player to that outside position may free up the TE/RB and allow for a little more creativity with the offense. Not to mention the Pats recently signed some free agents to add more depth to the DB and LB positions. Keep up the great work guys!
Chris Moller

I was surprised and impressed by this year's draft. It seems to me that the teams do a huge amount of research and preparation on each player (after all, they have a lot of money riding on the draft.) The press knows a lot, as do some of the fans. But compared to the top teams, let's face it we are all just guessing. The teams have a much better idea of who is a good pick. Except maybe the Redskins. I also see a difference between the Patriots and most of the other teams on draft day. Belichick has a different way of measuring a player's quality, so his depth chart probably looks significantly different from everyone else's. His numbers are the right ones for the Patriots system (but they might not work for another team where the system is different.) I think that's why the Pats get such good results out of their drafts. When Belichick says he picks the best player without too much concern for who is on the team, I take him at his word. When he says he thinks about the value of the player and isn't concerned about whether they're a guard, defensive back or whatever, I take him at his word. I don't think it's a smokescreen. Coach doesn't give a lot of specifics -- understatement -- but the things he says ring true to me.
Erik Zoltan

When did everyone become such an expert on the draft? They read a couple of Mock Draft's and Mel Kiper's Draft Guide, and suddenly they know enough to bash the Pats draft? I was as surprised as everyone else by some of their picks, and I've been wanting them to draft a linebacker for the past three years. But the anger by some of these people over something they know absolutely nothing about is ridiculous. As for the argument that they shouldn't have taken a guard that early, a) there were rumors San Francisco planned on taking Mankins with the pick right after the Pats, and b) John Hannah was a first-round pick, and not too many would argue he wasn't worth it. So to all the "experts" out there, chill out. And stop wishing the Patriots drafted guys on the first day that never ended up getting drafted at all.
Max W.

Brady is clearly the franchise here in New England and why not get him some body armor in the form of Mankins (he must be good if they name an airport after Logan) and Kaczur? There is nobody at left guard and Light needs a backup that won't get Brady or Dillon killed. I feel like it is as safe a pick as any. Our line didn't match up with Pitt, Indy or Philly and if we're not careful it will be like Buffalo's or Miami's line. Great picks protect the franchise's best return in a pitiful draft. Dante had nothing to work with for years so cut him some slack.
Mr. Jules

Hey guys I read your articles and appreciate your work. I guess I have more of a comment then a question. I've been reading the bashing of Bill's draft and the selection the Patriots picked. I know this 3 of the last 4 years the Patriots have been champions. Bill does what Bill does. If he selected a water boy in the first round, that water boy would fit his system and for all we know play corner or wideout during the season. We lost some quality players on the O-line and I admire Bill's draft for protecting Tom Brady who everyone wants re-signed. As far as our defense and the cornerback situation. I personally think we are well set with 8 at corner and 5 at safety. The guys are smart but if you're a fan, a true fan and you watch them play and admire them you will notice not only do they have an excellent work ethic, highly intelligent and play as a team. They are all instinctive risk takers on the field. All Bill has to do now is figure out how to get gas prices down.
Russ Winterbottom

Great draft coverage for us overseas experts even if you guys argue like women. Overall, I like everyone else was a bit deflated with the draft. However, after analyzing who they drafted and the roster, it appears they did just what they wanted to do. They drafted for need on the offensive line, a linebacker, and the secondary. Both linemen will make the team and I feel the same about Hobbs, Claridge and Sanders. At worst, they will be on the practice squad. Cassel and Stokes will have to have an unbelievable preseason to even make the practice squad. In stocking up picks for next year, the Pats might be preparing themselves for a free agent exodus. As a fan, I hope not. More importantly, the Pats can only have so many roster spots and the depth is finally fantastic. In being a Pats fan for many years, I have never witnessed such a strong team depth-wise besides maybe during Grogan's years. Thanks again for the coverage and sorry for comparing you guys to gals.
Joe in Korea

Unlike most of the questions I just read in this weeks Ask PFW. I have no doubts about the draft choices that were made. (I learned after the Milloy deal!) In BB/SP we should trust. If they decided to draft a toaster I would say that they needed toast for breakfast to make the team better and bring us "Three Games to Glory IV." Bill and Scott have not let us down yet so until they do, "Keep the Faith"!
David Fall

After reading the rants of angry fans after the draft I had to write in. First of all, I was just as surprised as anybody that we drafted Mankins (mostly because I had never heard of him). But come on, give the guy a chance. The more clips I see of him and the more I read about him the more I like him. He looks like he's an absolute beast on the field who will give you 110% every play. Also, any true fan should know that you can't truly evaluate a draft until years down the road. Would the same fans who are whining be happy if in previous drafts the pats took Ryan Leaf in the first round? How about Kyle Brady over Warren Sapp? Were Tom Brady in the sixth and David Givens in the 7th wasted picks? Truth is you never really know until they strap on the pads, learn the system and see what they do on the field. I realize that people want instant satisfaction, but at least give these guys a chance to prove themselves before ripping them off the bat.
Tim Whisler

Apparently I am one of the only people who thought our draft made a lot of sense. I have had concern with our depth on the OL for a couple of years and thought that this was a position we should focus on in this draft, and I believe we did. The next was secondary help, which we also took care of. Couple these choices with the Belichick type of guys (the SS out of Fresno and the LB out of UNLV) and the players we have signed in free agency and we have a good sized talent pool to whittle down in the preseason.
Dan Rowinski

Having just read a lot of negative comments about the Pats draft I must admit I am a bit annoyed. I understand that this draft was overall a little thin, so even though I was rooting for Barrett Rudd LB to be our pick, I think it makes sense for the Pats to draft an O-lineman because there were only a couple drafted so it was a position of relative talent still available, and a need. I think Mankins will quickly pay dividends and part of that will be his nasty attitude. I bet he plays like the Jets center Mawae (boy I don't like him but if he played for us I would LOVE him). Also don't forget we got an extra pick next year in the 3rd, 4th and 5th rounds giving us the flexibility to move up in the draft in the early 2? Rounds if we again, (hope) are drafting late or last in each round. Also the lower picks we got this year translate to more $$ left to sign Brady and Seymour. Let's look at the big picture we got talent in an area of need, saved some cash for re-signing our central players and improved our ability to get those players we covet next year, GOOD JOB PATS.
Steve Zeltzer

A few weeks before the draft I wrote to PFW and noted that Belichick / Pioli would draft based on value versus need. Most posters to PFW were assuming that ILB and CB were the greatest needs to fill. Now, many posters are upset that we drafted two OLs and feel that Logan Mankins was a reach. I am probably one of the few that like what they did on draft day. With the loss of Andruzzi and Klemm (not much of a loss with Klemm), the interior of the line needed help. Based on some of the expert opinions, both Mankins and Kaczur fit the mold of versatile players that the Patriots love. If you look at the age of the offensive line, they really have a young group that could keep the good times rolling. If Mankins was a reach, it did fulfill a need, which disproves my previous theory that they would not reach. What say the experts at PFW?
John Farrell

Finally, a question! Based on the previous dozen or so glowing recommendations, I hesitate to do anything here but nod my head in approval and simply utter, "Yes, Sensei." Evidently, based on these answers, it's wrong to criticize a draft beforehand but it's perfectly fine to praise it without seeing the guys play.

In all seriousness, I don't think Mankins was a reach because I honestly don't think he would have been on the board at No. 64, the next time the Patriots were set to pick. There may have been some players taken at the top of the second round that might prove to be better in the long run, but I agree with most people who believe the offensive line needed help and Mankins should provide some. I'm not sure he'll wind up playing tackle, though, but we'll see. Like I've said in the past, Belichick doesn't just do one thing. He makes the picks with both need and value in mind. To do it any other way doesn't make sense.
Paul Perillo

I am a bit surprised that you are not open to some people venting and suggesting about the draft. Just listen to what people say - after waiting for months, and hearing exciting names, Pats draft no-names. B.B. says that he does not care what anyone thinks. But that's what you guys are there for - to listen and to offer exciting debates. Giving party lines over and over - is boring. B.B. can afford to be boring - he wins games. But you guys are in the entertainment business. That does not mean that you have to take your clothes off and jump in the hands of cheerleaders. But neither do we want to hear the same film played over and over like on a navy ship. Be well and you can be a bit more daring and exciting!
Adam Putnam

I totally agree, Adam. But judging from the response of most of these people, I think we're in the minority. I agree with many of the Patriots moves but not all of them. We try to offer our opinions on these matters and I agree, if our opinions always match everyone else's, then what good is having this forum? But we are very open to dissenting views; we just don't get many of them.
Paul Perillo

In reading some of these questions and I can't believe people would even question the picks from BB and Pioli. We have WON 3 of 4 SUPER BOWLS!!! How can anyone second-guess what they did or do. Plus they sure could have gotten guys to plug the line and protect Brady to make sure he doesn't get sacked a lot plus we lost Andruzzi. I like the picks. Sorry had to vent. Question do you guys think this is Pioli's last draft since his contract's up after the year? Hate to see him go. Thanks guys and keep up the good work!
Mike

Pioli is under contract through the 2006 draft and has said that he doesn't plan on leaving before that deal is done. If he honors that contract, he will be here at least through the next draft.
Paul Perillo

All these fans that are down on the Logan Mankins choice in the draft, must not remember in the 2001 draft that Matt Light was also projected as a guard in the Sporting News Draft Guide. He was even the 7th choice at guard with the description of "not explosive or overpowering." Mankins is a Patriot because of his versatility. But I truly believe that when Jackson went to Indianapolis, Mankins came into the picture for the war room. I think the signing of Chad Scott proves that the Patriots were thinking that Jackson was going to be there at 32. When he was not, Belichick opted for his next spot on the board. My question is, do you find any truth in anything I have written? BRING BACK TROY BROWN!!!
Tracy Trail

I think there's a chance the Patriots were interested in Jackson, although I have no information to back that up. We'll probably never know for sure. But when the Colts took him, the Patriots obviously thought Mankins represented the best value available and went in that direction.
Paul Perillo

I just got done reading this past week's Ask PFW and it seemed like a bunch of people were down on the Patriots' draft. As Bryan [I think] said, Belichick and Co. deserve the benefit of the doubt based on their track record [but I am glad that fans can voice their opinion.] I would like to focus my comments more on the pick of Mankins in the 1st round. I think based on the fact that Belichick seems to have a good relationship with Coach Hill at Fresno St. the Patriots probably had better information on this kid than most teams. At the least, I think you can say that they were more confident about the information they were given than most other teams were. I also have to give OL coach Dante some credit [since he has been with the Patriots Organization for about 122 years] and I think he probably knows a thing or two about the offense. If he was impressed with Mankins, the kid's probably got some skills. Lastly [and this is kind of a question,] I heard that Mankins didn't allow a quarterback sack [that's what you expect out of an OL] but also he didn't allow a quarterback pressure the WHOLE SEASON. Is that true? If it is, it sounds like the kind of player who really learns his position well, and that's the kind of person we want to protect that 6th round QB we have starting for us. Thanks for all your work!
Jason Antin

It is true that Mankins did not allow a sack or pressure in 2004. In fact, in his three years of action, he allowed just four sacks and seven pressures combined.
Paul Perillo

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