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Ask PFW: Lockout lull continues

The NFL lockout has made this the most "off" of all offseasons. But Ask PFW is still alive and kicking, here answering fans' questions looking back on the draft and ahead to free agency.

OK, what will it take in draft picks to pry Tamba Hali away from the Chiefs? I doubt the Pats would want to give 2 1sts. Would the Chiefs take a 1st and a 2nd in next year's draft?
Erik Sivertsen

Like you, I've talked about Hali being a great option if the Patriots were looking to address their pass rush woes via free agency/trade. He's young and coming off a 14-sack season in a scheme that's run by former New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Perfect option, right? My guess is that Kansas City isn't looking to let Hali go. He's one of the young core members of a developing defense and overall team. They've given themselves some flexibility with the franchise tag (assuming it holds up after all this lockout/CBA mess is eventually worked out), but have talked in the past about wanting a long-term extension. You're right that the Patriots wouldn't be looking to give up the two firsts that would be required under franchise tag rules. I, personally would consider sending a first and second for Hali, filling this team's biggest need. But I'm not sure the Chiefs will be willing to let Hali go.
Andy Hart

I'm not sure why everybody is so upset about the Patriots draft. Last year we were confused when the Pats drafted 2 TEs after signing Alge Crumpler, however that turned out great. Is it possible that Bill has already thought of a scheme to incorporate all the running backs we just drafted ? Because no one thought he could incorporate all those TEs in the offense at once.
Clarens Jarbath

I'm sorry, but I don't remember one person really questioning the tight end picks. We knew exactly how the three very different tight ends could potentially be used, and it played out almost exactly how we expected for last season. I don't think it's a huge surprise that the Patriots drafted two running backs, more that they drafted them with consecutive picks relatively early in the draft. We knew they had to add bodies to a committee backfield that was down to just two still relatively unproven players. I doubt the rookie running backs will be as productive as a duo as Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were last season. Part of that is due to the fact that they won't get as many chances to contribute, as both BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead are legitimate options. The tight end position, especially in terms of pass catching, was a blank canvas at this point a year ago. One similarity, though, is that Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley have very different skill sets much the same way that the two tight ends do.
Andy Hart

Hey Andy, I've been reading your column since I was a little kid and I love your work. Could you do me a huge favor and ask Danny Woodhead about some important aspects of his offseason training program. I am a young running back of similar stature, and I am always amazed at how he is 5-7 and 200 pounds, yet is still one of the quickest running backs in the NFL.
John Matterazzo

I like to pride myself on being the youngest and most youthful member of the PFW staff. But emails like this tend to make me feel as old as Paul Perillo. Thanks for the compliment, though. I will do my best to talk to Woodhead as soon as I get the chance. Maybe you can hit him up yourself on Twitter at @danny__woodhead. But we all know, on some level, that certain athletic skills are simply God given. You either have them or you don't. You can only cultivate so much out of barren soil.
Andy Hart

Hey guys! I was watching some Shane Vereen highlights and he looks really good. Am I getting the next LT or just another backup?
Tom Brady

Call me skeptical, but I don't think this is really from Tom Brady. I'll answer it anyway my unknown friend. Those, by the way, are the only type friends I have because when people get to know me they usually don't really care for me. But I digress. Isn't there some ground between a Hall of Famer like LT and a backup? That's probably where Vereen will land. I think he's intriguing for his overall combination of skills and athleticism. I think he should get his chances to contribute right away as a rookie and I'm generally of the belief that running back is one of the positions where it is most likely that if a player is going to be a good to very good NFL talent he'll show it very early on in his career.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, I am HOPEFUL that something will be worked out in the labor dispute and that we will soon be moving toward a 2011 season. If this ends up happening and we enter a FA period, what do you think the Pats are more likely to focus on with the $$ they saved from not picking so high in the draft and trading down or out?? Do you think they look to outside FAs first or do they try to get something done with Mankins, or Light or BJGE, or Faulk, etc., etc.?? Thanks.
Ted Rogers

The only real money issue with the guys you talk about is with Mankins. I think that they'll have a simple take-it-or-leave-it offer for Light and wish him well on the open market where he could probably get more money. The Law Firm is a restricted free agent (under the old system, assuming that continues in the next CBA) and Faulk will be a low-money deal if he is even brought back/wants to come back. So I think the Patriots will be active in free agency looking for a potential pass rusher and to add depth at receiver and maybe even on the defensive line. The Mankins situation is the real wild card. My guess is that he'll be expected to play out the franchise tag, but if a long-term deal were reached it would likely pay somewhere in the range of $50 million and could certainly affect any other free agent deals.
Andy Hart

What's his number? Bledsoe wore #11, Brady - 12, and Mallett would have the lucky 13, winning us five SB's?Stan C.

Mallett wore No. 15 at Arkansas. For the Patriots that number is currently assigned to reserve/military list wide receiver Tyree Barnes. So my guess is that Mallett will end up with No. 15 at whatever point we get back to football, practice and uniforms again. But that's just a guess at this point.
Andy Hart

I understand that there can only be one winner to the Pats Hall of Fame vote but there has to be some way to get Houston Antwine into the Pats Hall of Fame. I remember those early teams and Antwine was truly a perennial standout. Today's Patriots defense could definitely use a player of his ability. His name belongs on that Pats Hall of fame list more than most of those already on it, in my opinion.
Glenn Beacham

While I never saw Antwine play and can't vouch for his greatness, there are certainly plenty of people who agree with the sentiment of this email. That's why he's been a Patriots Hall of Fame finalist for the last couple years. The problem is that he's now vying for the fan vote against a lot of modern era candidates, a battle that is and will continue to be tough for him to win. Because of that, his best route to the Hall might be through the newly formed senior committee. That committee tabbed center Jon Morris for induction this year. My guess is that Antwine will earn the senior committee's nod at some point in the not too distant future.
Andy Hart

Now that the draft is over and the dust has settled are we a better team now than we were last year? We added depth to the secondary and quarterback positions, and certainly got younger at running back. We didn't get a pass rusher but we really didn't have one last year either. The offensive line could be as good (or better) as it was last year depending on the contract situations there. The defensive front I think is relatively unchanged. I say on paper the Pats are a better team now than they were at this time a year ago. What do you think? I love reading your responses to our questions. You guys do great work.
Dave DeLuca

On paper, I do think the Patriots are a better team than they were at this time a year ago. At that point there were so many questions about the team that needed to be answered. While there are still many questions, I think the performances in 2010 of guys like Gronkowski, Hernandez, Green-Ellis, Woodhead, McCourty, Chung and others give Patriots fans a lot to look forward to when we get back to football. There are still plenty of issues that need to be resolved including pass rush/outside linebacker, outside receiver and offensive line lineup. I also wonder how guys like Gronkowski and McCourty will respond when they struggle. Many of the rookies and first-year players last fall had a lot of consistent success. At some point those guys will battle injuries, slumps and down times. Now, teams have books on them and will find better ways to attack them. How will those guys deal with that and continue to develop and contribute at a high level? To me, that will be the major question surrounding the 2011 Patriots. Still, I think the team looks better on paper right now, especially with guys like Leigh Bodden and Ty Warren set to return, than I thought things looked at this point last year.
Andy Hart

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