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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Jun 12 - 11:55 AM | Thu Jun 13 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW II: Filling in the pieces

For those of you with questions not regarding assessing the draft, you've come to the right place.

To date the Pats have made moves that, although I couldn't have predicted, are not surprising. Adding depth and competition pretty much across the board. Obviously QB, WR, OL, & CB come to mind. Do you have any insight into the offensive backfield situation? I've not seen any moves or even any rumors for these spots - other than some undrafted rookie free agents. It seems to me that the Pats may benefit from bringing in a little veteran competition behind Dillon and also a more prototypical NFL FB - with all due respect to Patrick Pass. I believe Faulk is an integral piece of the team, but not necessarily the answer if Dillon was out for an extended time. Beyond Kevin, I only see Cedric Cobbs and Kory Chapman on the roster. Any insights as to what the philosophy here is? Any names that may be on the team's radar screen?
Eric Warren

While I understand your concern if something were to cause Dillon to miss extended action, I guess I'm not as worried about the backfield situation as you, Eric. I think Faulk is a perfect complement with his receiving skills and ability to provide a change of pass as a ball carrier. Now I agree with you that Faulk wouldn't be the answer as the lead man for any extended period of time, but as long as Dillon is here I'm very comfortable with Faulk. As for Cobbs, we just haven't seen enough of him to know how reliable he would be if pressed into service. But you can bet the coaches have a much better idea of his potential value. I think he is a promising youngster who will likely get a much better chance to show his skills this summer than he did as a rookie when an injury forced him to start the season on PUP. Provided that this trio is healthy, I don't really see the need to add to it. Not many teams have a situation like the Jets did last year with LaMont Jordan backing up Curtis Martin. As long as Dillon is healthy, he's going to get the bulk of the carries.
Paul Perillo

I just wanted to deliver a phone message to Paul Perillo from last week: Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Ciatrick Fason, Cedric Houston, Gerald Riggs, Kenneth Darby, and Thomas Brown called, and they just wanted to know when the SEC became a passing league.
Bryan D

Thanks for the message, Bryan. I'm not going make this a huge issue, but I never said there weren't any good running backs in the SEC. I simply said that the league has become a passing league in the last 10 years. You cite some of the league's best backs – Ciatrick Faison led the SEC with 1,267 yards on 222 carries. Yet Florida's quarterback Chris Leak threw the ball almost twice as often (399 attempts) for more than twice as many yards (3,197) and almost three times as many touchdowns (29-10). And 2004 was actually a down year for quarterbacks in the league with teams like Tennessee and LSU in flux due to injuries and inexperience. And Georgia's David Greene split time in every game, which get his attempts down as well. Like I said, there are plenty of great running backs in the SEC, but you can't ignore the emergence of the passing game that began when Steve Spurrier started chucking it all over the place at Florida. I guess we can agree to disagree on this one.
Paul Perillo

I was reading what you said about Ty Law. I think he WILL be back, according to the report a couple of weeks ago his agent turned down the KC offer because it was the same as what the Pats have on the table. As far as the Steelers, do you think he wants to play on the same field (not a very good field from what I have heard) that he injured himself on? It was not like he got hit or anything when he got hurt he was just running. Great field huh
Peter Fortier

I wouldn't be too sure, Peter. That report was referring to the offer the Patriots had made Law before the 2004 season. From what I'm told, that offer is not on the table currently and I wouldn't expect that to change. As for the playing surface, the Patriots players themselves are constantly complaining about the status of the Gillette Stadium turf so if Law played on that, he can play on anything.
Paul Perillo

Based on the fact that Charlie Weis is now coaching at Notre Dame, and that the Patriots plan to keep his offensive system in place, is it reasonable to expect the Patriots to draft and/or sign a good number of offensive players from Notre Dame in the coming years, similar to the way they took Saban's defensive players from LSU? They have a pretty good quarterback down there who is about to learn the Patriots offense and would seem to be intriguing to the Patriots in an upcoming draft, especially with Belichick's success drafting QB's named Brady.
Pat Yegian

I would think Belichick would look to Weis as an informed source in the coming years. Whether that means he'll specifically target offensive players remains to be seen, but it sure makes sense. Much like Saban taught the 3-4, two-gap techniques the Patriots use when he was at LSU, Weis will be using the same offense at Notre Dame. That should make an Irish player more prepared to play that system in the NFL. I'm nit sure if Brady Quinn is a potential NFL player, but if he is, I'm sure his experience in the offense will be a major plus.
Paul Perillo

My question deals with Asante Samuel. Don't you think he should be playing every down and not just a nickel back? From what I saw last year he has the ability to contain most of the receivers in the league. Will these new signings affect his development or playing time?
Andrew S.

I happen to agree with you on this one. I've liked Samuel from his first practice session and I've seen nothing on the field since to change my mind. I think he's an aggressive corner who likes to play physically and that seems to be the kind of corner the Patriots like. My one concern with Samuel is his ability to stay healthy. He's not the biggest corner at 5-10, 185 and he battled shoulder problems last year when he was asked to play on a full-time basis. But assuming he's healthy, I'd love to see him lining up as one of the starters at corner.
Paul Perillo

Just read your latest installment about the draft and how our 2005-06 team is shaping up. Despite several questions about Ty Law, I did not see one inquiry about Our Guy Troy Brown. When he was cut, there was a great hue and cry . . . but now, not a peep. Is it a good sign for TB that we drafted no additional receiver, or are we already over stocked? I, like many Pats fans, continue to hold out hope that Mr. Brown will be back. What is the deadline by which the Pats would have to re-sign him or is there none? Do they have to wait until after they dump WRs they know they don't want? I know we don't have to have a final 53-man roster until end of preseason, but what would be a realistic time frame for them to bring back Mr. Wonderful?Miranda Good

There really is no official deadline for bringing Troy back, but I would guess both parties involved, assuming they both want to, would like to get it done before training camp. Obviously it's better for Troy that the Patriots didn't draft a young receiver, which would have further stocked an already crowded field at wideout. I think the current crew is deep enough provided everyone stays healthy, but that's a big if. The Patriots will probably wait a little longer to see how their current players perform in the offseason and then make their decision of Troy from there.
Paul Perillo

I noticed that the Pats didn't spend a lot of money on this draft, do you think it is because they are looking to spend that money on free agent Linebackers and DB's like Chad Brown?
Matt DeSisto

I'm a little confused as to how the Patriots didn't spend a lot of money on the draft. They stayed in their original spot in the first round and picked Logan Mankins. Salaries are pretty much slotted at the top of the draft so Mankins is going to make roughly what any player chosen No. 32 would have made. So the Patriots didn't really save any money with the pick. They did trade quite a bit after that, but I think that was more a product of not liking the crop available rather than trying to save a buck. But in terms of the final part of your question, I do believe the Patriots are still interested in making more changes.
Paul Perillo

What are Kyle Eckel's chances of making the team? I only caught one of his games this year (vs. Army) Although one game is not much to go by, I was very impressed. He manhandled the other team (I know we're talking about Army here), bulled through the defense, and seemed like a lunch-pail, time-card type of player. I was hoping all day during the draft that the Pats would take him or sign him as an undrafted free agent and I got my wish. But how do you think he'll do against NFL players? I miss the days of Sam Gash and have always been a Mike Alstott fan. Am I reaching too much here, or could this guy pan out?
John M

I think it's impossible to know at this point. A couple of practices with other rookies running around in shorts and helmets are no way to make an accurate assessment. In terms of the type of fullbacks you like, I'd say Eckel, at least based on his college career, is much more similar to Alstott than Gash. Gash is exclusively a blocker while Alstott is more of a ball carrier. Eckel was very productive at Navy as a wishbone fullback who carried the ball quite often. If he can show the coaches that he can block adequately and catch the ball occasionally, maybe he's a guy worth taking a longer look at. But in terms of his college career, Eckel is a terrific prospect.
Paul Perillo

If you add the salaries for Poole, Starks and Scott, they will probably add up to the salary that Law will end up getting likely from Steelers. Now, do we want to see Law playing his heart out against us in the playoffs or the other three aging bodies on our side? As much as I understand Law being released, I do not like the see CB swap with the Steelers, which this is starting to smell like. I am sure Steelers love it.
Ed Yevstratov

No one is a bigger fan of Ty Law than I am, but at $12.5 million on the cap for 2005, the Patriots really had no choice but to let him go. I agree with you that I'd rather have Law than the three guys you mentioned, but you have to take the economics into account as well. Assuming you're right about the salaries (and that's a big assumption), the Patriots would still need to have two other players in addition to Law. So now it's costing much more for three players than it would for the three you mentioned. We'll see where Law ends up and how much he ends up making in 2005, but the Patriots did the right thing letting him walk.
Paul Perillo

With the 2005 draft over, I was wondering which you felt was the best Pats draft ever? What criteria do you use to judge? How about the worst? How would you rank the Patriots coaches in terms of their drafting prowess?
Davis, Calif.

We actually ran a feature in PFW a couple of years ago trying to answer this very question. As you might imagine, it's a very subjective evaluation and 10 people could probably come up with 10 different answers depending on what an individual might think is the most important factor. I try to combine quality with quantity when making my choice. Another words, while it might be accurate to say that Tom Brady is the best draft pick the organization has ever made since he was taken in the sixth round and could wind up in the Hall of Fame some day, the 2000 draft is nowhere near one of the best overall because Brady and Patrick Pass are the only two quality picks to come from that class. I picked 1983 in our April 2, 2003, issue. That class included Tony Eason, Stephen Starring, Steve Moore, Johnny Rembert, Craig James, Ronnie Lippett, Toby Williams and Tom Ramsey. Among those eight NFLers, six became full-time starters. While it may be too early to make this statement, the 2003 class might emerge as the best if the likes of Ty Warren, Eugene Wilson, Asante Samuel and Dan Koppen continue to develop. Other years worthy of being included in this discussion include 1981, 1982 and 1995.

As for the worst ever, it would be difficult to overlook the Bobby Grier era. The 1997 class was particularly weak with Chris Canty, Sedrick Shaw, Chris Carter, Damon Denson, Tony Gaiter and Scott Rehberg. The best pick that year may have been Brandon Mitchell in the second round, and he's been nothing more than a serviceable defensive lineman.
Paul Perillo

Hey there, just wanted to let you know that you guys do a great job and I read your articles daily, even up here in Canada. I read that Ben Watson scored a 41 on the Wonderlic exam, and that I think it was Jason Campbell who only scored a 14 until taking it again. And finally on to my question: What exactly is the test made up of? Is it a sort of IQ test, a common sense test, or is it all football related questions about reading defenses/offenses and to that degree?
Matt Breen

It's more of the former. The test has nothing to do with football. It's filled with logic questions that require a combination of quickness and cognitive ability. There are 50 questions, which must be completed in 12 minutes. A person's score represents how many correct answers were submitted.
Paul Perillo

Sorry to bother you guys with a question like this but I have been over the NFL draft a number of times and have not been able to find Brandon Browner a CB out of Oregon State. I read in a magazine that he was a top rated player but did not see him drafted by any team. Am I incorrect in this? If I am not then is there a chance that our Pats will pick him up as a free agent?
Dael Carlson

Browner signed with Denver as an undrafted free agent after not getting selected. I'm not sure how he went from being a "sure-fire" second-round pick to undrafted, but some stuff I've read questioned his speed. Maybe that caused him to fall out of consideration.
Paul Perillo

Congress is once again interfering with a private enterprise instead of taking care of the nation's business, but drug testing in the NFL (and all sports) should be a concern to owners and the union as well as fans and their bookies. Do you think that the NFL should test for all performance enhancing drugs including blood doping and human growth hormone and do you think that a 4-game suspension is adequate? 4-games seems small until you consider that it is 1/4 of the season and would be equivalent to a 40 game suspension in baseball. If a player is "suspended" for drug use, does he also lose his pay for the period and is it given to charity or kept by the league, the team or some other body? Would like to hear the thoughts of some of your readers also.
Otis Hill

I personally believe that any substance that enhances performance should be banned. I think the four-game penalty is adequate but I'm not naïve enough to think that punishment is enough to stop steroid use in the NFL. These substances will continue to be an issue until the science of detecting them catches up with the science of masking them. Until then, players will cheat and many will get away with it. But the league does fine the guilty four weeks' pay, which as you pointed out does amount to a quarter of the season. I think it's a stiff price to pay but certainly fair. I'm not going to turn this into science class and I'm not really qualified to do that anyway. But I believe a player's ability should be what makes him stand out; not his chemist.
Paul Perillo

Do you think that BB will trade Rohan Davey before he becomes a free agent? Before the end of training camp I suspect that there will be a number of teams looking for a reliable backup quarterback or maybe even a starter.
George Burgoyne

Call me optimistic. Hopefully with another year under the belt Rohan will look more consistent in pre-season. Last year I was more than a tad worried in the event Brady went down for any length of time. But supposing Rohan establishes himself as a legitimate #2, not only does this inspire confidence in the team, this also raises the possibility of trade once again. And it just so happens his former coach Nick Saban could use a trusted commodity at QB. Now I know that's a long shot now but you have to figure at least a second-round pick in 2006. You see any chance of this?
Mike Luster

Personally? No. But thanks for the question, Optimistic. Davey was a fourth-round pick and has barely stepped on the field. When he has played in the preseason, he's done nothing to warrant anyone wanting to give up anything higher than a fourth-rounder. Now, I do agree with you that Miami could be an attractive trading partner given the Saban connection with Davey. Maybe with a some improvement this summer, Davey can make himself attractive and the Patriots can get something for him before he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
Paul Perillo

The "slow dwarf" you referred to in the answer to Shawn Frazier's question was Chris Canty, not Ty Law. Your defense of this year's draft picks was right on the money, though.
Bruce Cameron

I just read where you thought Ty Law was called a "slow dwarf" by one of the local newspapers when he was first drafted. I remembered exactly what you are talking about. But this was a few years after and he was talking about Chris Canty.
Hugh Maguire

The "slow dwarf" quote you cited was about Chris Canty, not Ty Law. I just happen to remember because even though it was a pretty depressing evaluation of Bobby Grier's first pick, it was pretty funny too.
Chris Dauer

Obviously Bryan's answer last week prompted many people to write in. I'm not sure exactly what Bryan was referring to, but I can back up his claim that many people (newspaper, television, radio) were highly critical of Bill Parcells when he chose Ty Law in the first round in 1995. And I can distinctly remember one media member referring to him as a small dwarf (It was not in the newspaper). In fact, said media member actually joked to me years later that Canty was "another slow dwarf," obviously poking fun at himself for his characterization of Law a couple years earlier. He certainly was right about Canty … 1-for-2 ain't bad.
Paul Perillo

In all the talk about draftees and free agent signings, I haven't heard a word about the status of Rodney Bailey, the free agent DE we signed from Pittsburgh last year. He was expected to make an impact last season. What is his health status and where does he fit in on the Patriots depth chart?Mike Halloran

Bailey is here working out in the offseason and should be a candidate for the rotation along the defensive line. Where exactly he will fit in depends on his performance during training camp and in the preseason. But I would expect him to receive significant playing time up front in 2005.
Paul Perillo

Do you think the Pats not drafting a CB had anything to do with Chad Scott being available? How does he compare with CBs that the Pats could have drafted at their spot?Moses Ip

Obviously Scott is much more experienced than anyone available in the draft. At the point where the Patriots were selecting, Belichick obviously felt a corner wouldn't give him the same value that Mankins did. Maybe things would have been different if Michigan's Marlin Jackson was still available (he went to Indy a couple picks before), but there's no way of knowing that for sure. The Patriots had to be already talking to Scott's representatives before the draft and maybe the deal was contingent upon New England not drafting a corner. Either way, if Scott is healthy he's in much better position to help the team in 2005 than anyone available at the end of round 1.
Paul Perillo

I'm a little confused why the Pats drafted Matt Cassel, a second-string QB at USC, when players like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Timmy Chang, the NCAA all-time leading passer, were available.
Nathan Graf

Yes, let's wait and see about how these guys will perform in the draft, How ever could you answer this one question for my please, why pass up the opportunity to have one of the other two really great quarterbacks as back ups. Brock Berlin or Jason White, granted White has extensive surgery but he came back after and won the Heisman Trophy and was nominated again for it the year later. Also, in the seventh round why get another tight end? I really like what Walter Reyes did for Syracuse setting several school records, and topping personal year records every year. I know they have two great running backs but to have a third string running back like that, wow. Did they see flaws in any of those players I mentioned could you let me know?
Thomas Chase

I can't tell you what the Patriots scouts thought of any of those players because that information just isn't public knowledge. But I can tell you that no one drafted Brock Berlin or Jason White. And White couldn't even earn a rookie free agent invite from Kansas City after going through a weekend tryout. Sometimes we see players who succeed at the college level and automatically believe they're sure-fire future NFL stars. Berlin was a terribly inconsistent performer at Miami despite the fact that he was constantly surrounded by great talent. White's injury history surely had a negative impact on his status, but he also did not perform in a pro style offense like the one USC runs. Cassel, even though he was a backup, is familiar with that kind of system from working with Pete Carroll and Norm Chow.

My guess is the Patriots felt Matt Cassel was a better quarterback than any of the others available. I tend to agree. Is there any doubt that Cassel, who according to Pete Carroll was neck-and-neck with Matt Leinart for the starting job, would have been the starter at numerous schools? The only downside of taking a backup like Cassel is he lacks the experience the other quarterbacks obviously have. But in the case of Chang specifically, it's that experience that tells me (in my opinion) he doesn't have the skills to compete at the NFL level. Cassel has a big-league arm and the Patriots are going to find out if any of his abilities are worth developing further. If it doesn't work out, all they did was waste a seventh-round pick. I think it may have one of their best picks to date.
Paul Perillo

What type of compensatory picks will the Patriots receive in the 2006 draft for the free agency departures of Ty Law, Joe Andruzzi, David Patten, Adrian Klemm and Jim Miller?
Terry G

First, the Patriots won't get anything for Ty Law because they didn't lose him to free agency; they released him. Second, you have to wait to see what the others do before determining if they're worth a compensation pick (or what round it will be in). The NFL computes that through a formula based on playing time, etc. Plus the Patriots have signed some free agents of their own so they could wind up canceling each other out depending on performance.
Paul Perillo

Hi Guys, thanks for explaining about guards and tackles; it was very helpful. I just read that Kaczur was drafted 9th overall last week in the CFL. Is it normal for a player to play in both leagues, don't the seasons overlap? What might this mean for Kaczur as a Patriot?Len DePadula

A player can't play in both leagues at the same time. If someone is under contract in the NFL he is not allowed to play in Canada as well. Kaczur was drafted by the CFL because he is Canadian (Brantford, Ontario). He will likely play for the Patriots as long as he has the ability to do so.
Paul Perillo

Is it true that the Pats are the only NFL team that doesn't subscribe to the league's scouting combine services? Do we have the same, more or less scouts than other teams? BB says he scouts EVERY college team, are we the only ones who do that? And lastly is this current roster of 86 players the deepest you've seen in Patriots history? I am under the belief that it is as I examined it thoroughly and barring injuries; they will have some very interesting decisions on cutdown Sunday in September. There will have to be some very good players that get cut vs. years past where most of our cuts were not that good anyways. Do you think that finally after being here 6 years now that BB has this roster maxed out and has his system fully in place? I think he won 3 Super Bowls still rebuilding the roster, now we can truly dominate!
Derron Darcy

While the Patriots aren't the only team that doesn't subscribe to those services, they are among a small handful. In terms of scouting, the Patriots are on par with most teams in terms of personnel numbers – in 2004, the Patriots had 16 members in their personnel department, the Jets had 15, the Bills had 15 and the Dolphins had 12. So most teams are in the same neighborhood in terms of numbers. I also believe (although I don't have any intimate knowledge) that all teams scout every school. In this day and age, it's very rare for a player to fly under the radar to the point where only one or two teams know about him. As for the current roster, I do believe this team is very talented and very deep. I don't have enough knowledge of every team's roster in Patriots history to determine whether or not this is the deepest. I do believe it's the best team the Patriots have had in the Belichick era.
Paul Perillo

Having climbed the mountain of knowledge I ask your sage and consoling words to retrieve me from my ledge. Oh wise PFW staff what s going on. Doug Flukie? What happened to the Team first - me second quality in players we signed? I mean Troy Brown is still unsigned and we take Doug Flukie. I think I'm gonna be sick. Listen I am not one to complain - I liked our draft (a few quality prospects at need positions rather than a dozen with only a few making the team, and I don't care if all the prognosticators didn't have much info on them) but Doug Flukie has been problematic everywhere and is now geriatric as well. A scab player - locker room divider (i.e. S.I. article when with the Bills, and a runt) and his 65 yds scrambling 135 yds passing while still losing the game are unneeded here and unwanted. Thank you for your comments and your unflagging research into the Pats to help preserve what sanity I do have here in Redskin-coverage-only territory. P.S. I know a lot of New Englanders will like to see local boy do good but enough is enough it was one pass - a long time ago.

Wow, Chu, settle down there. While I personally have never been a huge Doug Flutie fan, I think he would represent the best backup quarterback the Patriots currently have on the roster. I totally agree with your assessment that he's been problematic in the past, but he wasn't last year when Drew Brees was playing well and my guess is, at 42, he won't be in New England with Tom Brady the clear-cut starter. And if there are any signs that Flutie wants to be more than a backup, I have no doubt that Belichick would cut him loose in a heartbeat. Overall it's tough to take huge issue with this move. Like I said, I would rather see one of the younger guys emerge as a legitimate backup candidate, but until then Flutie is a nice fall back.
Paul Perillo

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