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Ask PFW, Part II: Rookie potential

Questions about the new guys highlight the second half of this week's Ask PFW.


Rookie WR Taylor Price.

How do you think Aaron Hernandez will fit into the offense? I've heard a lot of talk about Ron Gronkowski, but how did Hernandez look at the rookie camp?
Andy Nesbitt

This is a great opportunity for us to promote the PFW blog (there should be a link to it on the homepage). Obviously, you missed our rookie mini-camp coverage, but you can find all our observations and analyses of Hernandez and the other rooks in previous posts.

Quickly, I'll say this about Hernandez. He's better off having been drafted by New England as the second tight end/h-back than if he'd been taken as the number-one guy at that position somewhere else, or even here, for that matter. He's more David Thomas-like, not the classic blocking-catching combo, Ben Coates-style tight end, like Gronkowski. Hernandez is a good receiver, though, which is something this team needs at tight end. We may see more two-tight-end sets as a result this season.
Erik Scalavino

Do you think Taylor Price can realistically contribute this year? I've heard a lot of talk about him being in the mix at the receiver position, but he's coming from a poor college offensive system and wasn't always playing against the best competition. What do you think?
David Gilmore

Um, he better. He was a third-round pick, after all. I'd consider it a wasted pick if he didn't. Julian Edelman didn't come from a prolific passing offense or play against elite competition every week either, but he did all right last year as a seventh-round pick, wouldn't you say? That's no guarantee Price will be as successful, but, sure, he's in the mix at that position. There are no locks there, other than Moss (Wes Welker, too, obviously, were he not expected to miss significant time with his rehab). Price, at this point, has just as good a shot as any other player to contribute at wide receiver this year.
Erik Scalavino

I would like to know what your thoughts are on a rookie wage scale? Do you think that this will actually happen? When do you think a decision will be made on that? I love the idea; I never understood why unproven rookies are getting paid more than productive veterans.
Kevin Hahn

If there is a player lockout after 2010, how does that effect the 2011 draft? Specifically, can the lockout effect the Patriots draft choices (who and when they pick)? I have read that the NFL draft would be held, BUT having a (future) lockout I suspect would alter how much a team wants to spend on rookies when no games will be played.
David Ober

Said it before, I'll say it again … Love the rookie wage scale idea. The NFL should treat its new hires just like every other college grad in the real world. Prove yourself first and earn your way to the big bucks. If you're really that good, you'll get paid eventually and you'll have shown you deserve it. I expect that to be part of any new labor agreement that's reached between the league and the players union. Whenever that happens is anyone's guess at the moment, though. Sadly, no progress to report on that front.

As for the 2011 Draft, yes, it will take place, lockout or not. And teams, the Patriots included, will make their picks as usual (New England has 10 selections right now). If there's a lockout, no players get paid anyway, so the lockout wouldn't affect how the teams draft. The rookies wouldn't start to receive their paychecks until the lockout ended, at which point, there would most likely be a rookie wage scale in place.
Erik Scalavino

What is the PFW take on the Patriot's 2010 schedule? Looking at the strength of schedule, I see there are only five teams listed as having a tougher route to the Super Bowl. I always hear it said that championships are won in November and December but, when I look at the September and October matchups, it seems the opposite could be true in 2010 for the Pats. The first seven games feature a matchup against each AFC East team and one each against the '09 AFC North champ, the '09 AFC North runner-up, the '09 AFC West champ, and the '09 NFC North champ.
Ed Ayres

Strength of schedule is one of the most useless statistics in football. Especially in this era, when free agency allows teams to go from losing records to Super Bowl winners in the span of a year. A team's record, in most cases, is no indication of how it will perform in an upcoming season. What makes a schedule tough, in my estimation, is the way it is formatted.

For instance, I look at New England's 2010 schedule as having three distinct parts: Week 1 to the Bye in Week 5, Week 6 through the Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit, and the final five games in December and on New Year's weekend. That first stretch is "tough" because three of the four games are against division rivals. Lose a couple of those matches and you're suddenly in a playoff hole.

The middle is difficult, too, because you have four road games in seven weeks, including a cross-country journey to San Diego, and four games against '09 playoff teams, none of whom seem to have taken a step back this offseason.

The advantage to the Patriots schedule this year is a unique anomaly. Virtually the entire slate is home-away-home-away, with the exception of back-to-back road trips in mid-November. Furthermore, the two prime time games in December are both at home, while the other two night games (in October and November) are East Coast trips.

All in all, looks like rough sledding. The division – and, in all likelihood, New England's playoff chances – will probably be decided in those three AFC East match-ups in the final five weeks.
Erik Scalavino

Isn't anyone interested in what the Patriots and Tom Brady could accomplish with a receiving tandem of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens? If T.O. could be signed to a one-year, incentive-laden contract, the cost might be reasonable. As far as a "negative" impact, he was pretty tame last year, and do you really think he could upset the Patriots players and staff at this point in his career? I think it could be a once in a lifetime chance to see 3 great players together – Brady, Moss and Owens.
Dan Braun

Nope. Not here at PFW, anyway. TO is too much of a risk, without enough of the requisite reward. I'd rather the Patriots take their chances with what they have and develop the young talent they've acquired than live in the past with some over-the-hill, overrated prima donna.
Erik Scalavino

I loved the Patriots throwback jerseys. Do you think there is any possibility of them going back to them?
Cebastian Barrett

According to our reliable sources, the 2010 alternate jersey will be the 1985 version, not last year's 50th season design, and in red only, not white. It'll be worn for at least one game this season, maybe two. They're expected to be on the shelves in the Pro Shop by late August or early September.
Erik Scalavino

I am a long-time Patriots fan in Nashville, TN. I will be in the area June 9 through the 16th. Are there any kinds of team activities going on during that time that are open to the public? I would really like to see my favorite team in the offseason and would like to maybe get an autograph. If there is anything you can do to help it would be greatly appreciated. I always stay up to date with the Patriots and I am extremely excited for the season to get under way.
Tim Scott

There are, in fact, team activities happened during that span … organized team activities, to be precise (OTAs). Sadly, Tim, they are closed to the public. Only the media is allowed at these practices. If you were here from late July through mid-August, you could attend training camp, which is open to the public, free of charge, and gives you the opportunity to get autographs. No such opportunities exist during the offseason.
Erik Scalavino

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