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Ask PFW: On the draft clock

In less than two weeks the Patriots roster, just like those of the other 31 NFL teams, will get an infusion of youthful talent and potential. The draft offers hope to all teams.

Finally! Seymour got just what he needed from the extension. After watching the past two seasons, it's obvious that the defensive line pressure was LACKING whenever Seymour was out. I remember when Richard held out at the beginning of last year and some people said we should just release him. Ridiculous. Now he's back, along with the new monster in front, Vince Wilfork, and a player who turned into a legitimate threat last year, Ty Warren. My only other concern is locking up Deion [Branch]. For the past few years, when Deion got injured, Brady chucked the ball to [David] Givens, but now who is there? If we let Deion go, who else is there? Also, did Carson Palmer, Rodney Harrison, and Daunte Culpepper all suffer the same injury?
Brian Bim

Seymour got paid, and deservedly so. He's the best defensive lineman in the game right now with versatile skills that allow him to do many different things at a high level in New England's multiple fronts. His numbers aren't wowing, but as you alluded to he makes a huge impact on the New England defense and makes those around him and behind him that much better. The coaches and players are more than willing to admit that. Getting him locked up and happy heading into the season is a positive sign for the entire unit. I also think it would be a very good thing for the team to get something done with Branch. He's now Brady's most proven weapon and a key part of the offense. While I don't necessarily see him as a prototypical No. 1 receiver, I think the team definitely considers him its No. 1 and will look to extend him as soon as possible. That said, I think Branch is probably looking at a deal that trumps the one Givens got in free agency and I believe his leverage was increased by the fact that the team is so weak at wide receiver right now. It won't be Seymour-type money, but Branch is going to have to get paid as well.
As far as the injuries go, my understanding is that Harrison and Culpepper both suffered triple ligament tears in their knees while Palmer tore "just" two ligaments (although there was some other pretty serious damage to his knee). As such, the much younger Palmer is expected to have a quicker recovery. There are many more questions surrounding the timetable for returns for Culpepper and Harrison.
Andy Hart

Just wanted to say hooray!!!! We will keep Seymour for the next 4 years. Now lets get Branch taken care of and we will have a little bit of security for a couple of years.
Ken Schmitz

I just wanted to post this one because earlier in the offseason there were so many angry and upset emails questioning some of the earlier moves. It's good to see fans happy again. This is sports. It's supposed to be fun and offer an outlet from the everyday troubles of life. Don't worry. Be happy.
Andy Hart

What do you suppose the Pats will do in regards to signing a legit WR or even a big-time WR to complement and free up [Deion] Branch, now that [David] Givens is gone? I like the [Reche] Caldwell signing, but the WR unit is still shorthanded and Caldwell really isn't a proven #2, not to mention every Pats Fan's favorite Troy Brown has slowed down with age and Bethel Johnson's is nothing extraordinary....Sgt. Slaughter

I will be shocked if the Patriots don't take at least one wideout in the draft, maybe even in the first couple picks. There just isn't a ton of talent at the spot right now on the roster, especially if you are considering proven talent. Caldwell still has to prove he can be a legit No. 2. I like the signing, but not to line him up across from Branch to start for 16 weeks. Brown is still a consistent receiver, especially on third down and in sub sets, but his 100-catch days are well behind him. I have given up on counting on Johnson. I had high hopes for him but he's never even really broken into the rotation. You can only live off potential for so long. That said, there are plenty of interesting names in the draft. After Santonio Holmes and Chad Jackson there is a huge group of receivers that could go in the middle rounds. I will leave it up to the Patriots to find the best guy for the system. Is it Maurice Stovall after a year in the system at Notre Dame? Jason Avant? I like them both, but New England coaches and scouts certainly know a lot more than I do. But you are right, something has to be added to the position before the start of the season and there isn't much left in the free agent market. And don't rule out Jackson or Holmes at 21, stranger things have happened. Remember Logan Mankins?
Andy Hart

Hey, I don't care about all the players leaving, that's old news if you ask me, but one thing I do care about is why we haven't signed Ty Law back yet. We let him go last year and he ended having a career year in New York. I think BB should really think about giving this guy what I think and most of pats fans think he deserves. Thank youGary Seymour

Are you Richard's long lost cousin? Did you call him to give him that can't-miss business plan you have after hearing about his lucrative extension? Just wondering.
Law has reportedly spoken with Belichick this offseason and his representatives include the Patriots among the teams interested in Law. But he's once again looking for big money that would include a $10 million bonus and average $7 million annually. That's too rich for New England's blood. If that comes down and no other team is offering anything close to that, I'm sure Belichick would love the productive Law back at the right price. I'm just not sure there's much of a chance of that happening. There is still money out there and Law will get his share sooner or later.
Andy Hart

I eagerly read your great pieces on RBs on the rise and RBs on the fall. After I read the 'on the rise' part, I figured that DeAngelo Williams must be going down draft boards. But he wasn't in the other article either. I know of at least two first-round projections that have the Pats picking him, so what's the deal? Is this on purpose because the Pats like him? Probably not, but I have heard some really awesome things about him, specifically that he had unbelievable production in a bad passing offense, with the defense stacked up against him...

Williams is indeed a dynamic and intriguing prospect. Personally, I think he's the second best in the draft after Bush who is simply in a different league than everyone else. The only reason he didn't appear in either article was because he's been a top RB prospect all along and not much has happened to change his status in either direction. Not everyone is included in either the rising or falling articles. For example, Bush was included with the risers mostly because he solidified his standing atop the draft with an extremely impressive USC pro day. Williams is what he is, and that's probably the second best back in the draft. I also think he'd look pretty good in a Pats uniform.
Andy Hart

How's Rodney doing? I know a lot of people are worried about free agency and the players we lost and the players we'll sign, but I think Harrison is more valuable than anyone we could sign. He seems to have a great presence on the field and our secondary is obviously worse without him.Frank Osborn

Rodney continues to rehab and progress with an eye on returning to the field as soon as possible. When that is exactly is anyone's guess. As hard as I know he'll work, tearing three ligaments is a serious injury that generally takes well beyond a year to recover from. Add Harrison's age to the equation and I think it's both unrealistic and maybe a little unfair to expect him to contribute in the first half of the season. Beyond that it will all depend on how things go throughout the summer. I assume he'll start the year on PUP and won't be much of an option in the secondary until rather late in the year, if at all. But there is no questioning his value to the defensive backfield, that was proven last season. Tom Brady recently called Harrison "the best defensive player I've every played with." That's high praise and that is well deserved.
Andy Hart

In the draft discussions, Tom Casale makes very critical judgments about certain prospects and refers to the "tape" he watched, as a way of grounding his opinions in some form of referential evidence. However, he doesn't explain what the "tape" is. Is it a highlight and lowlight montage? Is it the entire season's worth of plays? Is it a scouting reel? If we knew what exactly "the tape" is, his opinions would carry more, or conversely, less weight to the readers. His principal victims in one column are Darnell Bing and Ashton Youboty, with a quick mention of "the tape" as justification. Considering his article is posted on the official site of the Patriots, are his harsh comments about these players honest and informed, or careless and irresponsible? I think he could be just as informative while being more respectful of these players as human beings. Call me soft if you want, but if the Pats draft either one of these kids, he should apologize to them face to face.Pony Express

You're soft.
Andy Hart

I was wondering what you think of USC RB LenDale White. I think his running style is similar to Corey Dillon's - they are both physical backs who can punish tacklers and get yards after contact - and we've all seen what a healthy Dillon can do for the Pat's offense...not to mention an increase in T.O.P that also helps out the defense. White is also used to coming off the bench and sharing carries with Reggie Bush from his days at USC, so he could really be productive carrying the ball 10-15 times per game while backing up Dillon for the first year or two. I believe he'd be a great fit in New England. If he's still around at the 21st pick, do you think the Pats would draft him?Armando Ramirez

As I've said here in the past I don't really like White, especially in the first round. He has a questionable work ethic, got fat during his days at USC and benefited greatly from a pro-caliber offensive line in college. I think he could be a huge bust. And I don't think the Patriots would take him with the 21st pick. Call it a hunch. I just don't see it happening. Now, if he slipped into a later round, maybe they would consider it. But early on he's too much of a risk all the way around.
Andy Hart

Hello from Arizona where we have almost gotten into the 100's. I was curious if you thought the patriots would entertain trading for Donnie Edwards? I know he is starting to get up there in age, but he could be useful for a couple more years and could probably do well in Willie's place. I was also curious if the Patriots have shown any interest and Green Bay's Javon Walker? And with it looking like Notre Dame's Maurice Stovall will be available when the Patriots pick in the 2nd round, what are the odds of them giving him a shot?Shaun Kelly

I don't think Edwards would be a very good fit for the New England system. He's only 227 pounds, not really the size that Belichick likes in his linebackers. He's more of a run-around type of player. But there is certainly no question the 11th year veteran has been productive as shown by his nine straight 100-tackle seasons including more than 150 in each of the last three years. I am not sure what the Chargers are looking for in a trade. But even if the price is right, I don't think his age or style of play make him much of a fit for the Patriots.
I am sure the Patriots would have some interest in Walker, although the Packers seem pretty intent on trying to keep him. Plus, trading for him would also require giving him a big money deal. He's a good receiver, but the cost on both levels would probably prevent a deal. Not to mention New England also has to get things done with Branch. I know fans are looking to the trade market to restock the team, but it's not always as easy as it sounds.
I like Stovall. I was very impressed with him at the Combine and even more so on tape. He has good size, hands and body control and made a lot of nice catches on poorly thrown balls from Brady Quinn. I think he could be the total package in terms of being a solid No. 2 or 3 wideout in the NFL and his experience under Charlie Weis would give him a leg up on life in the New England offense.
Andy Hart

How bout Dan Klecko, I know he has never been a huge impact player for the Pats but no one can deny his versatility playing both sides of the ball. I remember last season there was some talk about trying him at linebacker. He's a great athlete but seems a little small for our defensive line and if I remember correctly he had some injury problems last season which hopefully he's recovered from. My question is what kind of role do you see him playing this season if any? offense or defense?Jimbo C

I don't see much of a role for Klecko in New England moving forward. I think he would be very lucky to make the roster this summer. He's never really developed into a contributor at any spot other than fullback and that was a short-lived span ended by a knee injury two seasons ago. The coaches gave up on the transition to linebacker last season and Klecko was limited to a reserve and special teams role. I just think he lacks the size/speed combination to really play any position in the NFL. He's a good guy and his coaches and teammates love him, but beyond that he's never been able to really offer much to the team on the field.
Andy Hart

Ay guys keep up the good work, thanks for keeping us informed with the draft prospects, the PFW in Progress and the roster reports etc, really do appreciate it. Now I have two questions, firstly I was wondering whether the show you guys will have on Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th of April will be Podcasted, (reason being is that when the Saturday show is on, local time here will be 4am). My second question (Wondering if Tom or Andy can help out with this one) is what are your thoughts on Michigan wideout Jason Avant? I read that the Patriots have showed a lot of interest and they are sending the wide receiver coach I believe for a private workout with Avant, just your thoughts on him would be great and whether he can come in and make an immediate impact as a number two receiver. Thank you.Jan Yaakoob

First, all PFW in Progress programs, including both extended edition's from draft weekend, will be available as Podcasts. Thanks for listening and I apologize in advance for anything I say that might be deemed offensive. The dingo ate my baby. Throw another shrimp on the barbie. That ain't a knife, this is a knife.
As for Avant, he's another guy I liked at the Combine. He's similar to Stovall in build, although he's a little shorter. He has a great reputation in terms of work ethic and leadership qualities. And the fact that he has a relationship with Rodney Harrison (the pair have the same trainer) is a bonus. I am not sure he'll ever be a top receiver in the NFL but I think he could have a long, solid, productive career ahead of him and think the Patriots would get value out of a mid-round pick used on him. I have seen New England linked to Avant on a number of occasions, whether that turns into a call on draft day is another question all together.
Andy Hart

Hello! I read that Pats have shown a significant interest in a receiver Avant, Jason. I suspect Pats may be looking to draft him in round 2-3. I wonder if he is going to be available by that time. That brings me to my real question. Do teams try to conceal their intended draft selections? Thanks!
Mike T.

Avant will probably be available in that range and very well could end up a Patriot, although I think Stovall is probably a more likely candidate. That brings me to my real answer. Of course teams try to conceal their draft interests. There is more misinformation put out before the draft than in a political campaign. Some teams have visits with guys to just make others believe there is an interest in that player. Others put out false trade rumors. The draft is a big game of poker with no team wanting to show their hand or give up absolutely anything to any other. Don't believe me, just pay attention to the press conference Bill Belichick is going to hold tomorrow and tell me what you get out of it. My money says you will be more confused than when you started.
Andy Hart

With the NFL draft coming up I have a lot of concerns with the history of the Patriots and how they have used there picks. When BB and SP first started running the show in the draft they made some awesome picks and some not so awesome. They get a lot of credit for their scouts and the research they do on players in the draft, but I think that they try too hard to draft the players that aren't getting as much attention as some of the better players in the draft. In my opinion the last few drafts have not been good, for example Dexter Reid, Cedric Cobbs, PK Sam, Marquise Hill, James Sanders, Dan Klecko, they really have not amounted to anything. The patriots could have done a better job scouting because there are plenty of other players that were available that turned out better than the few I named. Vince Wilfork was a good first-round pick...Not to rag on Ben Watson and Logan Mankins but I think there were more areas that the Patriots needed players in than lg and te, there were a lot better players that came out of the first and second round that the Patriots passed on drafting when they picked Mankins and Watson. So what I'm asking is, how do you think the Patriots drafting has been as of late? do you think BB and SP may be a little overrated in the scouting area, and what do you think the Pats will do in this years draft? ThanksJoe Hedglin

Joe I think you are being a little hard on the Patriots. They have drafted reasonably well in recent years. All teams hit on some picks and miss on some others. For all the guys you mention as examples of bad picks I can list the likes of Ellis Hobbs, Nick Kaczur, Asante Samuel and Dan Koppen. The biggest strength of the Pioli/Belichick regime has been hitting on the team's top picks. The top two picks in each of the last five years (Mankins, Hobbs, Wilfork, Watson, Ty Warren, Eugene Wilson, Daniel Graham, Deion Branch, Richard Seymour and Matt Light) remain starters with the team to this day. That's pretty darn good and I'm not sure any other team in the league would be able to say that. No teams hits on all its picks but the Patriots have been consistently good in the early rounds and found enough later round picks to put together a series of pretty successful drafts. And just because you didn't think G or TE was the biggest need at the time, doesn't mean those were bad picks. They make picks based on a lot of factors and with the best interests of the team in mind. Aside from 2004, which after the top two picks was a pretty horrendous draft, I think Belichick and Pioli have earned the praise they've received regarding the draft.
Andy Hart

What is your assessment of OT Ryan Gibbons from Northeastern?Michael Harrington

Not being the local, Div. I AA football fan and Northeastern supporter that Paul Perillo is, I went right to the source for this answer. "He's a *!%$#^ lineman," said Perillo, who's been to more than his fair share of Northeastern football games in recent years. (No, I don't know why. Ask him, he'll be doing Ask PFW in two weeks.) Mel Kiper Jr.'s 2006 Draft Report lists Gibbons (6-6, 323) as the 20th tackle prospect in the draft. Kiper says, "Gibbons is definitely a decent to good Division I-AA prospect, but what makes him attractive is his excellent growth potential. He has room to grow physically and athletically, and will benefit from the coaching he'll receive at the pro level. You have to like his work ethic and toughness. Deserves some consideration in the late rounds and certainly as a priority undrafted free agent." I hope that answers your question. It's certainly more than I could have offered on my own. And if he does make it to the undrafted rookie free agent process maybe the Patriots will give the local boy a chance in camp.
Andy Hart

Should we be concerned with whether Bill Belichick will be with the Patriots beyond the 2006 or 2007 season? Most successful NFL coaches (e.g. Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs, Bill Walsh, Dick Vermeil) are near their first retirement by this point. I hope that he stays with us for a long time, but what else is there for him to accomplish here? Would his departure mark the end of the Patriots dynasty?Roger LeBoeuf

I'm not sure exactly what drives Belichick, but I don't think it's the dynasty. He works hard to win the next game and he next season, sort of in the same way he asks his players to. That's what he does. I don't think he's going to walk away too soon. And while some coaches do retire, others stay for the long haul in one place. To counter the examples you listed, how about Tom Landry, Don Shula, Chuck Noll or even more recently Bill Cowher. Each coach is different. Yes, the NFL coaching life is taxing and stressful, but Belichick has dealt with it for 30 years and shows no signs of slowing down. Football is in his blood and I'm not sure he'll ever be able to get it out. Plus, he has a challenge now of returning his team to the top of the NFL mountain. No complacency here, three in five can turn into four in six or three in six. That's the challenge facing him right now.
Andy Hart

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