Official website of the New England Patriots

Ask PFW: Offseason heats up

Since Guss Scott was having a great training camp and since he has had a year to study (although not play in) the system do you see this as an opportunity for Eugene Wilson to maker a full-time return to CB since, if I remember correctly, he was compared to a young Ty Law (those were words written on this very website) when he first arrived to Patriots training camp? Also, what type of contract did Guss Scott sign? I know that he had signed a one-year deal originally before his injury. Tedy Bruschi, your in my prayers and thanks to Troy Brown and Ty Law for all the great memories and I wish the two of you the best. Thanks.Jimmy Bender
Owensboro, Ky.

Guss Scott was having a good camp, but we never got to see if he could carry that over into game action. It's one thing to perform in practice and another to do it under pressure when the lights come on. Kato Serwanga always looked good in practice at corner, but never took it onto the game field when everything picks up a notch. So I don't know what kind of role Guss will play this year. I think he needs to pick up where he left off and show a better knowledge of the system. But again, it's one thing to watch it and read it and another to get out and do it. It's like a rookie training camp again for him. As for Gino Wilson, he could move back to corner fulltime at any point, but I don't think that happens yet. He will play some snaps at corner as he has in the past, but he goes into the season as a safety. If Scott emerges or the Patriots draft a kid like Brodney Pool, that situation may change. At this point, I just assume look for another young, solid corner and leave Wilson at safety where he has been solid. He catches the ball and he is physical. Scott is an exclusive rights free agent this year. I imagine the Pats will try to sign him to a long-term deal, but as of now, he can be had for a minimum salary tender offer.

Lots of shows the Pats being very interested in Channing Crowder. Are there any current Pats players making an impact now that were drafted after only 2 years of college experience?Moses

Well Moses, Stephen Neal did not even play college football but is now a starting guard for the Pats. But Corey Dillon, Deion Branch, Josh Miller and Keith Traylor all played two years or fewer at a four-year college after transferring from junior colleges. Dillon played only one season at Washington after playing at two different jucos.

Hi Guys, Thanks for all your informed responses to so many Patriots fans' questions. I'm just wondering, on average how many questions do you get per day, do you read all of them and how do you decide which ones to post?Len LaPadula

We do read them all and then we just pick what we think are the most topical or interesting as long as they are legible. Some that come in without punctuation or formatting get eliminated. We also try to eliminate repeat questions or something that we've just addressed in last week's Ask PFW. But I would say we get a couple hundred questions per week and we narrow that down to somewhere between 20 and 40 of the best questions. Sometimes, folks don't like what we post, but we try to make this useful to all levels of football fans from the novice to the "expert."

Hi guys, quick question here. During certain plays such as kickoffs and punts, one often sees a blue flag go flying onto the field. What is the significance of an official throwing a blue flag?Ben Pomicter

I don't know what flag you are talking about. The officials throw a small beanbag at the spot of where the ball was caught by the returner to mark that spot in the event that there might be a penalty on the play that would have to be marked off from the spot of the catch.

Hey guys! Greetings from North Carolina! In one of the games, I think in the Colts game---just cannot remember, I read afterwards that the Pats played a 2-7-2 Defense. How does this work? I know the 3-4 and the 4-3 as you explained them to me last year. I am just having trouble finding anyone around here to explain it. Maybe it is because there are a lot of Panther fans around and they are a bit jealous. LOL Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it!
Rick LaFleur

A 2-7-2 would be something the Patriots would be using in some nickel or dime situations to create confusion. Basically, they would be playing with 2 down linemen, seven players standing at the linebacker level across the ball and 2 deep safeties. It would be done to make it difficult for the offense to identify who the rushers are, who needs to be blocked and who is in coverage as well as what coverage it might be.

There's a lot of speculation as to who the Pats will select at No. 32, but to me, it's a no-brainer: Barrett Ruud from Nebraska. MLB is not only a need, but also a necessity in this draft, and this class doesn't have much depth. Ruud, Crowder and Thurman are the big names, and the latter two have issues. Ruud is a class act, is hard working, and is underrated athletically. He will be a starting ILB for many, many years.Patrick

Well Patrick, I didn't see his tape yet, but Paul and Andy were watching some of the linebackers yesterday and came away unimpressed with Ruud. I think we all agree that inside linebacker is a need, but if there is no first round value at that position when the Pats pick, they will have to wait to address it rather than reach for a player who will get first round money and may not be worth that. Will Ruud play on third down? Can he cover? Maybe the answer is yes to both of those, but if he is a two-down player, do you still want to invest first round money in him? They need a linebacker, but they have to be smart about acquiring one. I don't think selecting Ruud at 32 is the no-brainer you claim it is.

Re-sign Troy Brown. Draft Mark Clayton. Wait and draft Matt Jones. Hope for the best from PK Sam and Cedric James. I'm tired of trying to figure out what I want the Patriots to do in regards to their receiving corps. Please help: what would PFW do?Chris Warner

This question was sent before David Terrell was signed, but here's the situation: Deion Branch is signed through 2006, David Givens is expected to be a UFA after the 2005 season along with newly signed Tim Dwight and Terrell. The unproven guys, Bethel Johnson and P.K. Sam, are signed through 2007 and 2008, respectively. So I still think the Patriots need a quality young receiver locked up long term. That might be Johnson or Sam, but we haven't seen it from them yet. While I'm leaning toward either linebacker or corner at 32, I would have no problem using that pick on another receiver that could then be signed for six years. If you go that route, you are getting one of the second-tier receivers with your first-round pick and you better be sure about the guy. But the Patriots could line up in 2005 with what they have no problem. Branch, Givens, Terrell, Dwight, Johnson and Sam looks like a pretty solid, deep group. So they could now wait on this position. That's already one receiver too many on the roster so it might be difficult for anyone to crack that group. If the Pats spend a first- or second-round pick on a wideout, then either Terrell, Dwight, Johnson or Sam will be cut. It's time for Johnson's actions to speak louder than his words. Year 3 is a big one for his future.

Dear PFW, Has there been any talk of the Patriots drafting Arkansas QB Matt Jones? It seems to be a consensus that he will play at receiver or tight end in the NFL; given the Patriots' penchant for versatile players, and probable needs at both receiver and backup quarterback (with due respect to Rohan Davey), it seems that he might be a good fit. I know that his stock has been on the rise of late--is there any indication that he might still be on the board for the Patriots' pick in the second round? Are there enough linebacker prospects under consideration that the Patriots could opt for Jones at the end of the first round, and fill the linebacker need with a second round pick? Thank You,
A. Murjani

I have seen recent reports speculating that the amazingly athletic Jones will go in the first round. While the Patriots would like his versatility, I don't think he's a guy they can draft in the first round. They have addressed the receiver spot in free agency and have Benjamin Watson back in the mix at tight end. I don't think Jones could outperform Davey to win the backup job. But it's not an unreasonable question by any means since we received several on this very topic. If he could play an Antwaan Randle-El type role, he might be too good to pass up at the end of the first, but that's a projection at this point and while I'm not averse to taking a chance, I would like to see the Pats go safer with their first pick. Because I'm saying that, Jones will play in 12 Pro Bowls and go to the Hall of Fame as a Steeler, but hey, it's an unexact science.

Given the Patriots late drafting position, the lack of quality inside linebackers available in the draft, the Patriots willingness to take college linemen and convert them to linebacker (see Tedy Bruschi and, hopefully, Dan Klecko), and the Pats young depth along the defensive line, is there any chance the Pats might consider moving one of their young defensive line studs to linebacker? If linebacker Don Davis can move to safety and receiver Troy Brown to defensive back, could a Marquise Hill, Rodney Bailey, Ethan Kelley or someone else be given a shot at inside linebacker? Might take a year or two for the converted lineman to become comfortable at the new position, but the Pats still have Ted Johnson and (hopefully) Tedy Bruschi to help bridge that learning-curve gap.
Peter Blais

No Peter. I like your thinking. It's how the Pats coaches think. It's the old "the more you can do, the more you can do" theory. But I do feel comfortable in saying that none of those guys you mentioned will ever be a linebacker. The Patriots don't have any linemen that fit that mold beyond possibly Klecko.

Hey PFW, great column for all the Pats diehards that live elsewhere. I'm stationed at Travis AFB, CA but thanks to NFL ticket I still see every game. My question revolves around the state of the WR situation for the Pats. I watched the Tim Dwight thing unfold and I'm kind of wondering if you think the Pats did that for the special teams depth with his obvious speed and return ability or if they really needed a small fast reciever like Dwight. My other question is that now with the departure of David Patten, will we finally see the emergence of Bethel Johnson that Pats fans have been waiting for a while now? I've always though that Johnson, with his incredible speed, and at least from this last season's catches, catching ability would make a great addition to what seems like a pretty decent group of recievers with Branch, Givens, Johnson, and Dwight suiting up....Thanks for any info and once again great column.
Jason Brisson Travis AFB, CA

I think Dwight was signed because of his speed and versatility, which includes his ability to stretch the field as a receiver and run after the catch as well as his experience returning kicks and punts. The big challenge for Dwight is to stay healthy. He has been unable to stay on the field the last two years after catching 50 passes in 2002. Johnson needs to become the perimeter deep threat that Patten was in the offense. While his speed is unlike any I've seen on the field, he must do all the other little things well to make an impact. He has to improve his route running, work ethic and his technique or he will never be more than an occasional, but inconsistent big-play threat in the passing game and an explosive kickoff returner.

Hey, Even though my letter was critical and sarcastic relating to a comment you made about the draft, you still printed it. One of the things I really enjoy about Ask PFW is that you print critical letters and comments, not just mine, but many others. To me, this shows a lot of strength to make your column so open to dissenting opinions. America should be a place that welcomes this kind of discourse & community. By doing this you are also, in fact, a Patriot in the truest sense of the word. Thanks.
Gene Fein

Thanks Gene. Your kind words are appreciated.

How does one get consideration for this????
Diamond Tim

One asks a good, thoughtful question. Well whatever we determine to fit those qualities. That may up for debate at times. We encourage everyone to ask understanding that we get a lot of questions to pick from. Keep 'em coming.

Maurice Clarett performed better in his workout today, from what I've heard he worked hard and didn't give up, no matter what was going on and his 40 time, improved by around 0.20. In my opinion, if he is still available the Patriots should take him in round 2. He could play behind Dillon for a couple of years and still get a good 500 yards and then be a starter. Look at Willis McGahee, he was predicted to slip a long way, but the Bills took a chance and now have a star RB. Yeah, Clarett may have had a personal problem but if anyone can bring him along, it's BB and his staff and even a reformed Dillon. We have a more than one 3rd round pick because of compensatory picks, so we can take a chance early on. Is this a possibility?
Tim Hart

I think the Patriots have an interest in Maurice Clarett in the right spot, possibly in the third or fourth round, but I would be surprised to see them take him as high as the second round given that he has done little to improve his stock during this draft prep period after a long time away from football. I'd say the second round is too high, but the Pats have good information the kid's background given that quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels' dad was Clarett's high school coach. But don't compare his situation to McGahee's. McGahee's predicted slide that didn't really happen was because he ripped up his knee in the national championship game that year – in a game against Clarett's Ohio State team. Also, the Patriots have only one third-round pick. They traded their own 3 to the Cardinals for Duane Starks but have a compensatory pick at the end of the round (100th overall).

The Draft will soon be upon us, and as in the past, I have no idea on who or what Bill & Co. will be looking for. My main area of concern is linebacker, especially with the Bruschi situation. Can you shed some light on what you think the Pats staff will be looking for? GO PATS!!!
Derek Turley

I think linebacker is a definite possibility. It's so hard to predict what will happen at 32 because it's impossible to predict what will happen between 1 and 31. Look at last year. The Pats were picking 21st and figured to have no shot at Vince Wilfork. But Wilfork slipped and the Patriots surely adjusted their draft prep plan and took Wilfork. If a player rated highly similarly drops this year, the Patriots would consider him regardless of needs. But just looking at needs, inside linebacker is currently No. 1. Then its gets murky. I'd say the offensive line, cornerback and receiver are the other top needs, but none of those are huge needs or big holes. That gives the Pats the luxury of taking good football players regardless of position. Again, I say receiver because Dwight, Terrell and probably Givens will be playing on one-year deals.

Hi PFW guys!!! a question from the biggest Patriots Fan in Mexico. Is it possible that BB bring Roman Phifer back to the team?? He knows the system, and could be a good fill now that Bruschi is possibly out for the next season, I think he is still a good NFL player and a reliable ILB. What are your thoughts about this?? Thank you! And keep the great job!!
Ricardo Rodriquez

I think the team has moved on from Phife. He is 37 years old and saw his playing time diminish greatly last season. He was a terrific Patriot over his four years here and helped win three Super Bowls, but I don't think you'll see him back in a Patriots uniform. My guess is that he hangs them up.

I just read that the Texans released Jamie Sharper. He has experience in the 3-4 defense. Do you think the Patriots will give him serious consideration now that the linebacking corps has become a little suspect with Tedy Bruschi's situation?Mark Woelfel

He is certainly intriguing. He has good experience in a 3-4 front and has been productive. We all know he was effective in Baltimore and was productive when moving on to Houston, including a career best 195-tackle season in 2003. He is 30 years old which means the Patriots interest would depend on what kind of money he is looking for especially since New England would have to create some cap room to sign him. New England wouldn't be willing to commit any big signing bonus in a long-term deal and my guess is that Sharper will get more than New England can or will offer him.

From what I've heard of Al Fincher, he's a total stud. He's an ILB from Connecticut who really had a big senior year. He had 141 Tackles (5th in the nation), 1.5 sacks, and 2 interceptions. He's 6-1 240 lbs. I read that he has great football instincts. He makes quick reads, has fluid hips and is effective in coverage. He didn't do much in pass rushing, but has great acceleration to collapse the pocket. He uses his hands well, and is able to shed blocks. He is explosive, and always seems to be around the ball. His quickness makes him seem faster than his timed speed. He had a listed 4.8 40 on that draft report, but ran a 4.67 at the combine. He has had no significant injuries. He is a high character guy who respects his teammates, watches game film, and works hard at every practice. I think this guy is a can't-miss prospect who the patriots should scoop up with their 3rd round pick.Fred Gregson

I know Fincher is a guy that is climbing boards in the offseason and could be there at the end of the third round. I would think the Patriots would have some interest with their third-round selection even if they have addressed the linebacker with an earlier pick.

If I missed the answer to this question I apologize, but if 2007 is an uncapped year and 2008 and on becomes capped once again, what happens to all the ridiculous contracts that will be given by some teams? Will they be grandfathered for some period or will teams have to jettison these big contract players to get under the new cap? Thanks,
Otis Hill

Good question Otis. If that were to happen, it would likely be as it was back in 1993. They would treat the contracts as if the cap was in place all along. So if I sign a two-year deal in 2007 that was a $1 million signing bonus and in October of 2007, a new CBA and cap are agreed upon, the 2008 cap value on my contract would be my 2008 salary plus what the prorated signing bonus would have been all along or in this case $500,000. Also, there will be rules in place that prevent teams from frontloading deals to manipulate any future cap that gets agreed upon. I hope that clears it up.

I feel the most pressing need for the Patriots in the draft is running back yet no one else is concerned about it. Last year's steal of Dillon, the best single season performer at RB in Pats history, was awesome and won us the Bowl, but he couldn't finish that game, failed his physical, and has what maybe 1-2 years at best left? Behind him is oft-injured the past 3 years Cedric Cobbs who doesn't know the playbook and played in a simple running offense in college. His last 2 years at Arkansas were up and down. He showed nothing in his Cleveland and San Fran attempts. Ran straight up and stiff. So if Dillon goes down again, we have undersized 3rd down back Faulk and Pass who has no speed and is small. We need a stud young smart running back! Is it JJ Arrington? I don't know, but they have players and depth at EVERY position on the team except running back. And I'll throw one more caveat out there, backup qb Rohan Davey wants out next year and is an unrestricted free agent. He wants to try to catch on somewhere else where he's not stuck behind Tom Brady. Do you think they'll draft David Greene in the 2nd or 3rd round if he's there? I think they like him and his 44 collegiate wins. So to me, offense is where they should concentrate early on, what do you think??Derron Darcy

I disagree. I think your point about the running backs has some validity. Corey Dillon certainly isn't going to play five more seasons here. But if he can play 2-3, then it's hard to say that running back is a big need. Cobbs and Faulk are adequate backups although I, like you, would not be comfortable right now with either one of them as my every down back. They might be OK working in combination the way Faulk and Antowain Smith did in 2003. The Pats would have taken Kevin Jones at 32 last year had not Detroit not traded up in front of them and that was after trading for Dillon so we can't rule out a running back or any position for that matter. If the Pats take Greene, perhaps they can trade Davey and get some value for him rather than lose him to free agency. Greene would certainly fit the bill as a winning quarterback. Chris Redman has some starting experience and might be able to back up Brady along with a rookie. It's also possible that the Pats would keep 4 QBs in that instance just as they did when Brady was a rookie in 2000.

When the NFL awards compensatory picks, I believe that the NFL bases the picks on a formula involving NET free agent losses. If a player is cut/released like Ty Law, would the team signing a cut/released player such as Law be considered to have signed an unrestricted free agent? Will a signing of that type be considered when calculating their compensatory picks? I think unresticted free agents are players that have played out their contracts and are unsigned and have been in the league enough (4?) years.
John Heisman

No John. Those players don't count in that formula. Only UFAs who have played out their contract count. Law is free to sign with any team, but technically, he is like a street free agent as opposed to an unrestricted free agent.

First of all I'd just like to say i think the terrell signing is great. it brings some height to the receiving corps and gives terell a fresh start (assuming he pays his traffic tickets). My first question is: with the signing of a tall wideout, what does that do to pk sam. Sam is the same height as terrell. Do you think sam will see any time at receiver this year or is that going to be based on his pre season performance? second: i know that pats resigned patrick pass but why haven't they looked at a blocking fullback? I would imagine with bruschi's uncertainty they would want to save klecko for LB instead of FB. keep up the good work
Chris A.

I don't think the Terrell signing affects Sam, who has proven nothing yet. The Patriots can hardly depend on Sam at this point and he needs to earn a roster spot, never mind worry about his playing time as of yet. I think the Patriots are willing to invest some time in him as long he shows improvement, but there is room on the roster for more than one tall receiver. Also, the offense doesn't really use a true blocking fullback save for some short yardage situations. Pass is adequate on other downs and they can find someone to fill the job in short yardage just as they have in the past. They prefer to do that rather than commit a roster spot for the few times they would actually call on some one-dimensional bullish blocker. They want their fullback to be able to carry the ball occasionally and catch it out of the backfield, not just block.

I can't keep track. Can you tell me what is the Patriot current draft order for the seven rounds of the 2005 draft?Robert Tingdahl

The Pats have one pick in the first, second, third and fourth rounds, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising