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Ask PFW: It's draft time

With the draft just two days away there are plenty of scenarios to discuss in this week's mailbag.

My question is about Shane Ray. Would you want the Patriots to draft him if he's available at Pick 32? Some experts believe he is one of the top pass rushers in this draft and once projected as a top-10 pick, but his recent off-field issues now has him probably available at the end of the first round.

Jake Smith*

The situation with Ray has some layers to it. On the surface he is a top-10 talent and the failed drug tests will certainly scare some suitors off. But I'm not completely convinced he's the real deal without the off-field concerns. He's a 245-pound defensive end, which is pretty small to play on the edge in the Patriots defense. He's also coming off a foot injury that could impact his game, which is based almost totally on speed and athleticism. He had tremendous success getting after the passer with 13.5 sacks last year, and as a situational player I could see him having success putting heat on quarterbacks in the NFL as well. But is that worthy of such a high selection? I'm not sure. However, if he does drop to the bottom of the first round you wonder if the value becomes too great. Personally, I don't think his package of skills is worth risking his poor judgment off the field – even at No. 32. I'd pass, but it would be quite tempting.
Paul Perillo

I have a scenario: Malcolm Butler forces an incompletion but can't make the interception. Marshawn Lynch runs the ball in. Brady is 3 of 6 in Super Bowls, no fourth Lombardi, no win since Spygate, you only win when you cheat etc. Does Bill Belichick approach the new season completely differently - retain Darrelle Revis at all costs, win now worry about the future later? Or the same - balance the short and long term, we might not win the Super Bowl this year but we'll put ourselves in a position to compete every year?

Alan MacMillan*

This is an interesting question that obviously no one knows the answer to for sure other than Belichick and the rest of the team's decision-makers. I know many people believe the team alters its strategy from year to year, and some years have been more committed than others. I don't really buy into that philosophy. Yes there have been years when the team has been more aggressive in free agency – 2003, 2007 and 2014 immediately come to mind – but I feel those have been more a result of opportunity than any specific changes in overall philosophy. Belichick saw the chance to acquire Randy Moss in 2007, as an example, and he thought it made sense and did it. It wasn't as if he went into 2007 thinking this was the year he was going to load up and throw away the future. He maintained his balance of the present and future and thought the moves made sense. Obviously in all three of those seasons the aggressiveness worked (two Super Bowls and an 18-1 season). However, to answer your question I feel very little would have changed had the Patriots lost the Super Bowl on the final play in your scenario. Like I said, only Belichick knows but my guess is Revis would still be a Jet.
Paul Perillo

The Patriots need to bring both Eddie Goldman and Marcus Peters. They can take one at 32, and I wonder if they trade second, third and fifth or sixth picks, they can move up to 33-34 and grab the other? Allow me to justify my question: third and sixth were compensatory picks which cannot be traded, but Pats have their own, and essentially would be trading "free" picks. So why not get Peters with the comp pick you may get for Revis and Browner? Also, even if you have eight CBs currently on the roster, that competition will not emerge without Revis or even Peters. The question is - can such trade be pulled off if Patriots so desire?

Ed Trent*

I personally wouldn't trade one of the first two picks of the second round for the last picks of the second, third and fifth rounds but who knows what some teams will do come draft day? To me that's not enough to move up an entire round, which is what you're looking to do in order to go from No. 64 to No. 33 or 34. That also doesn't sound like a trade the Patriots make very often – moving multiple picks for one. Personally I believe the cornerback would be the higher priority, assuming a guy you really like at that position is available. In terms of a trade, I think it would be more likely for the Patriots to move 32, drop into the early part of the second round and add to their picks. But again, we'll have to wait and see.
Paul Perillo

I have a question, disguised as a theory. Is it more than just possible that the league is waiting until after the draft to release the deflated ball findings? Perhaps to force the team to decide pick versus trade of our first-round pick? If we pick, and then lost next year first-round pick as punishment, we have first next year. I think knowing what, if any, punishment, is coming before the draft impacts next year, and not knowing drives this year. Just a theory, but information is power and so withholding information is also powerful. I expect the report in the lull of May. And so I expect a trade of our first as there will be a lot of interest from teams wanting to pick last, before teams reset boards for Friday night. I expect a 2016 first, and maybe a fourth/fifth this year hopefully from someone who goes less than six wins this year.

Michael Monk*

I love conspiracy theories and often believe there's more to most stories than we'll ever know. I do not, however, agree with this one. This investigation is being conducted by an outside entity and when it's completed it will be revealed. The last thing the league wants is for there to be any appearance of impropriety – and I'm also not sure your theory would impact the Patriots thinking even if that were the case. The Patriots are going to do what they believe is best, not to mention the fact that I don't think there's even a 1 percent chance that the Patriots will lose a first-round pick over this whole mess. Perhaps a fine, but I can't see a significant draft pick lost. I doubt Belichick is losing too much sleep over Ted Wells at this point.
Paul Perillo

Do you think the Patriots could trade for a wide receiver like Roddy White, Marques Colston or Vincent Jackson for a deep threat for Tom Brady? Because in my opinion I don't trust rookie receivers.

Nick Franco*

I guess you didn't watch many NFL games last season if you don't believe in rookie receivers because a boatload of them made significant impacts for their teams immediately. Of the three guys you mention above, the only one I'd be interested in is Jackson. He'd give Brady a deep threat on the outside that the team lacks. I wouldn't be opposed to drafting a young wideout in a class that once again is supposed to be deep and talented. But bottom line for me is I'm not too worried about the offense as long as Brady and Gronkowski are healthy. If one of those two guys are out, then the story changes.
Paul Perillo

We have a few glaring needs at cornerback, offensive line and defensive tackle, but I think Belichick may surprise us. We are building a pass rush "blueprint" if you will. That leads me to my draft proposition of Washington standout Shaq Thompson. He played linebacker, defensive back and even running back (averaging 7 yards per gain). He's projected late first-round and he has plenty of raw talent to mold. I describe him as a mini Jamie Collins with his ability to rush and play coverage. Imagine having two Jamie Collins on defense who can rush the gaps and play coverage. He has so much raw talent it's unbelievable. And before you critique that we need a cornerback, remember, he played that in college too.

Kyle Rodgers*

I don't believe Belichick choosing something other than the three positions you mentioned would be overly surprising. He's very consistent in sticking to his draft board and not reaching for positions of need. So if no players are available at those positions I could see him going elsewhere. As for Thompson, he's an interesting prospect but let's not pretend drafting him addresses any needs at corner. Yes he's been a versatile player in college and his athleticism is exciting. But like Collins, who played safety in college, he's not going to make his money covering wide receivers. I like Thompson but not as much as you do. I have to think a corner, defensive or offensive lineman they value will be available and if that's the case I'd go there.
Paul Perillo

The Patriots 2015 schedule is a joke. Why do they need a week off in Week 4? Why doesn't the NFL be fair and give half the teams the bye week in Week 8 and the other half in Week 9? Makes a heck of a lot more sense ... or did I just answer my own question?

Jeffrey Anderson*

I agree the bye week is too early but I don't agree with your proposal. Doing it your way would mean there would be only eight games total in the league during Weeks 8 and 9. So there would be night games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday and just five games spread out over the 1 and 4 o'clock windows on Sunday. That's not enough for the networks and personally I wouldn't like that as a fan either. I like switching around from game to game on Sunday afternoon and not being stuck watching just one.
Paul Perillo

I'm gonna be the one to say it and at the end of the year you're gonna say I'm right. Malcolm Butler is gonna be our No. 1 corner and he's gonna be shut down. I watched the kid in preseason and he showed flashes he can be a shutdown corner. Mark my words he will be our next Ty Law. Agree?

Justin Monteiro*

I like Butler a lot and I like him during training camp last summer. I liked his toughness and he seemed to have an ability to put bad plays behind him quickly without allowing them to take away from his competitiveness. But comparing him Ty Law is borderline insane at this juncture. Butler made a huge play to win the Super Bowl but otherwise barely played. Law played immediately as a rookie first-round pick and is a borderline Pro Football Hall of Famer. Let's not put those kinds of undue pressures on Butler until we actually see how he performs with regular playing time. Like I said, there's a lot to like about his game but he has a long way to go.
Paul Perillo

Is there any chance that Todd Gurley may be in the mix on draft day?

Kim Coulter*

I think there's a good chance the Patriots will take a running back at some point in the first three rounds but I don't think it will be Gurley. Based on what I've read it would be quite surprising if Gurley were still available at the bottom of the first round, and I would be stunned if the Patriots traded up to get him. Gurley is terrific and I'm not overly worried about the torn ACL. I expect him to be off the board in the top 20 picks, maybe even the top 10. To rich for the Patriots I would think.
Paul Perillo

I would like to know when a team (team 1) knows when another team (team 2) is about to draft a player team 1 is willing to trade for? Does team 2 announce its selection then give other teams an opportunity to trade? I assume something like that is in place but cannot locate it in the rules.

Morris Hickok*

Your scenario is a little confusing but I'll take a stab at it based on my understanding of what you're asking. If the Patriots were picking at 32 and Baltimore wanted to move up to that spot to take Marcus Peters, could the Patriots simply take Peters in an effort to trade him? Of course, but I assume in your scenario that the Patriots know this because they're engaged in trade talks with Baltimore already. The Ravens would likely want to move up because they would be concerned that another team was interested in Peters. Again, in that scenario the Patriots would likely be talking to other teams in an effort to gauge that interest. So the Patriots are already weighing the best compensation package and making the trade with the team they believe is offering the most. It wouldn't be wise to turn down all the trades, though, and run the risk of getting stuck with a player they don't want. But there isn't anything in the rules preventing  what you described – assuming I understand you correctly.
Paul Perillo

Who is most likely to be our starting running back in the 2015 season?

Raymond Culver*

My guess would be LeGarrette Blount, after he serves his one-game suspension to open the season of course. Blount is the most proven back on the roster and even if the Patriots add one in the draft that would still be the case. I expect Blount to share carries with either Tyler Gaffney, Jonas Gray or perhaps a rookie draft pick, but in terms of the lead back I think it will be Blount.
Paul Perillo

Not worried about first round, we have done pretty well drafting there (Laurence Maroney excluded)  but the picks in the second round  have been well less than stellar. Tavon Wilson, Ras-I Dowling, Ron Brace, Bethel Johnson and Aaron Dobson and we should never forget the trading up for Chad Jackson. One of the only times we moved up in the first round for Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones we did fine. I don't mind packaging the second-round pick for a first-round pick this year.

Nader Behbehani*

Well, that's awfully kind of you to agree to trade a second-round for a first-round pick. Seems to represent pretty good value to me. Then again any personnel chief that trades the No. 25 pick straight up for the No. 64 pick probably wouldn't be employed long. All kidding aside I think you probably meant trading the second-rounder for a future first-round pick, which is possible. I also noticed you left out guys like Rob Gronkowski, Sebastian Vollmer, Jamie Collins and Shane Vereen, Deion Branch when talking about the second-round picks Belichick had made.
Paul Perillo

We already have our QB of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo, so would it not be a good choice to use the first-round pick on a running back if Melvin Gordon were to fall that low? Or even Tevin Coleman so that the Patriots could have an every down back to carry the work load when Brady finally retires to help relieve the pressure off Garoppolo.

Shane Smith*

Why do the Patriots need to draft a running back in the first round now to help the quarterback who might not be playing for another two or three years? Brady is coming off an MVP performance in the Super Bowl so I don't see the need to push him out the door. I do believe the Patriots will draft a running back, and I like Coleman, but not in the first round. Let Brady continue to do his thing for as long as possible.
Paul Perillo

Hi, I'm big PFW fan but I have concerns about you guys telling people Patriots should not select an OL at 32 because "the needs are greater on defense." I thought general consensus was to select the best player on your board, not selecting one specific position because you have to fill the holes in your roster no matter what. Sorry but my English isn't good.

Luis Adrian*

First off your English is better than most so no need to apologize. Second, I agree with your overall premise in that it makes sense to stick to your draft board and not select a specific position regardless of the caliber of player. What we're saying is the needs on defense exceed those on offense, and interior offensive linemen can generally be found after the first round. Therefore we'd rather see a top cornerback taken than the top guard. But if the guard was rated higher than the cornerback then by all means the Patriots should take him. This holds true for any position at any spot in the draft. Unless the best player available is a position like quarterback, most teams do a good job of sticking to their board rather than reaching for the position.
Paul Perillo

According to the draft, do you think coach Belichick will trade down like he usually does or do you think he'll stay in the first round?

Aaron Johnson*

If given the choice I'd say the Patriots will trade down in an effort to add a couple more picks. That will also add some flexibility in the second and third round and allow Belichick to move around in an effort to target specific players he likes. He's done this often in the past and if he's not convinced the players available at 32 are worth it he'll do it again.
Paul Perillo

I'm wondering your opinion of WR Devin Smith from Ohio State. I love the speed he blocks well plus with Bill Belichick's and Urban Meyer's history together it seems like a perfect fit. Do you think that Smith may still be available say in the middle of the second round?

Matt Keough*

I like Smith's speed and big-play ability, mainly because it's an element the Patriots have lacked on the outside for years. He wouldn't need to come in and set the world on fire as long as he provided the occasional deep ball to keep safeties honest. I could definitely see him fitting as a second-round pick and maybe even near the bottom of Round 2. I like the Belichick-Meyer connection and therefore believe this to be a possibility. Certainly the Patriots have greater needs than wide receiver but the quality of this class may be difficult to overlook – especially after last year's quality class was so successful.
Paul Perillo

I am reading this issue of Eric Weddle and the Chargers having some issues with a new contract and it makes me intrigued. He is a guy that I've coveted for us since his days and Utah and despite being a Miami fan, I was disappointed that we drafted Brandon Meriweather and not Weddle. With that said, do you see any scenario that would allow us to package some draft picks and get him from San Diego?
Charles Adams

I really like Weddle and have been quite impressed by him over the past couple of seasons. I didn't always feel that way, but he's proven to be a solid all-around safety with the ability to play the run and the pass. His performance against Rob Gronkowski last season was especially impressive. Predicting trades in the NFL is difficult but I certainly would be willing to give up a second-round pick to get Weddle, even without giving him a contract extension. Clearly the odds of a trade of this magnitude are slim but I'd be willing to have Weddle and Devin McCourty lined up side by side in 2015.
Paul Perillo

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