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Ask PFW: Patriots drafting up future plans

I know the draft is the next big thing on the NFL calendar. My opinion for what it's worth is that the biggest need is a cornerback. What do you think about the Byron Jones to the Pats? He is obviously an athlete with the record broad jump and the under 4.40 40 on his pro day.

Michael Jewis*

I would agree with you that cornerback is a position of need but I'd throw offensive and defensive line into that mix as well. But certainly corner is at or near the top of the list and Jones is an interesting player. I'm not sure I'm buying all of the hype surrounding him coming off his incredible performance at the Combine. Heading into Indy some of the draft reports had him listed as a possible sixth-round pick. He blew up at the Combine and those same publications now think he's a late-first, early-second projection. That worries me a lot. How could his stock have risen so dramatically based on the Combine? Yes he's a terrific athlete but that should have been apparent to those who watched him at UConn and yet they still had him as a late-round pick. So yes, Jones would fill a need and I was impressed with him when he spoke at the Combine but I'm not sure he'd be my first choice at corner.
Paul Perillo

It would be tough to get through the offseason without you guys cluing us in to the "ins and outs" of what going on with our Pats. Being an Oregonian (go Ducks), I have had a chance to watch Tyler Gaffney play well while running the ball for Stanford.  Last I heard he was on the roster, but nothing is ever said about him when mentioning our RB crew. Is there any chance he'll make the squad?

Rob Trunnell*

The reason you haven't heard much about him is he hasn't played. He was on injured reserve his entire rookie season, and we didn't even get to watch him before he got hurt because he was on the Panthers at the time of his injury. Gaffney is very much in the running back mix and Bill Belichick said as much during the owners meetings a couple weeks ago. Belichick spoke highly of Gaffney's skills, his ability to catch the ball and run. He will get every opportunity to earn a roster spot and a role.
Paul Perillo

Thanks for filling in the spring time doldrums.  This seems to be a fairly deep draft in our positions of need OT, DL and even CB, (though not real strong here).  Unless someone really slips in the first round, it looks like a number of prospects that we might be interested in will be available in Round 2 so it might be beneficial to trade our first-round pick for another second-round pick, etc. What do you think is a reasonable package of picks to get for our first -rounder?

Tony Tauro*

The package of picks can certainly vary but I'll use the most recent example of 2013. That year Belichick dealt his first-round pick (No. 29 overall) to Minnesota and received four picks in return – a second, third, fourth and seventh. In 2011 they traded their first-round pick (28 overall) to New Orleans for a 2012 first-rounder. Depending on how Belichick wanted to play it I would think he'd have some options with the final pick of the night.
Paul Perillo

*Trying my push to pick up A.P. Now I understand that his contract might need some help. I'm thinking it happens during draft just like Moss. Give up this year's number one and a third and next year's fourth-round pick. You will be giving up picks but Peterson will be on a mission for 2,000 yards with a second team. And teams won't stack the box with Tom Brady back there. He has 3-4 years left just like Brady. Peterson going to play hard for a ring.  *

Steven Nizgorski*

I'm sure I'll be in the minority here but no thanks. Peterson is a great player and everything you said about his potential impact on the Patriots is true. Teams wouldn't be able to stack the box and he'll likely be quite motivated in 2015 given the past. All that said, I have no interest in bringing him in. I have no idea if the Patriots feel the same way, but I don't want any part of him. I understand that the players we watch every week are not choir boys and some are likely doing things I don't like, but in this case I know about his transgression and bringing him in despite his child abuse incident would not sit well with me. Like I said, I'm probably in the minority but I believe there are other players I'd rather win with.
Paul Perillo

Why aren't we showing any interest in Mathias Kiwanuka or Stefen Wisniewski? Kiwanuka could be a decent rotational player and it gives us the flexibility to use Rob Ninkovich as a linebacker if we get hit with injuries. I think Wisniewski is a promising young player at guard (a position he is better suited for than center) and he would give us another option at center along with Ryan Wendell if something were to happen to Bryan Stork. How come New England isn't bringing in proven talent at two positions of need if anything just to see if they're worth the consideration?

Logan Mullins*

According to reports the Patriots did meet with Wisniewski but as of yet have not agreed to any contract. Everything you said about him is true – flexibility to play center and guard so he'd fill a definite need. As for Kiwanuka, I know the Giants they let him go because of injuries and ineffectiveness. Perhaps those two things are related as the former Boston College star hasn't done much in recent seasons. But if his knee checked out I wouldn't be opposed to bringing him in to perform in a role that you described – a rotational backup pass rusher off the bench.
Paul Perillo

We have all been told of Dominique Easley's potential, but I was wondering how soon you see him recognizing it? Could you see the DT taking a Jamie Collins type leap in Year Two?

Noah Auman*

Let's not be too hard on Easley in terms of realizing potential. We knew he was coming off a torn ACL when the Patriots drafted him, and he clearly wasn't fully up to speed all year before winding up on IR. He's been working out this offseason and I'd expect to see a more effective player in 2015, assuming he's able to stay healthy. But in terms of how good he can be I think we'll have to wait to see how he responds because so far we haven't had much of a chance to check him out.
Paul Perillo

With the division being stronger defensively and the Patriots didn't make any big WR moves, is it safe to assume that the team will try to implement the two TE set with Scott Chandler and of course Gronk and attack the middle of the field?

Mike Baker*

I could see the Patriots using those formations and I also could see them using some three-receiver sets with Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola. Amendola came on toward the end of last season and perhaps he's finally comfortable in the offense and will be a bigger part of the attack on a regular basis. But I can definitely see Chandler and Gronkowski paired together at times as well. I'm not as high on Chandler as some folks but he's proven to be a capable receiver at times with less-than-stellar quarterbacks throwing him the ball in Buffalo. In short, I don't have many concerns about the Patriots offense as long as that Brady guy is healthy.
Paul Perillo

Long time listener, first time I've had a question that I didn't think was addressed on the show. Brandon Carr is scheduled to count $12.7 million against the cap for the Cowboys this year. If he doesn't take a pay cut and gets released. Do you think the Patriots would have any interest? He's a decent CB1 and at the right price I'm sure it would have to be. But he's a Scott Pioli in KC drafted guy so there's that connection. Not sure if that helps or hurts.

Paul Poonia*

I've always liked Carr and can't really understand what happened to him in Dallas. I thought he was off to a promising start in KC but never lived up to the hype with the Cowboys. Without getting the chance to watch him closely I don't really have any reasons for that, but perhaps the big money he received took away some of his desire. If that's the case then I'm not sure I'd be interested. But there's also a chance that the system he's in doesn't suit him and it's possible that Belichick could see something in his skill set that would make him a viable option. One thing I do know is the Patriots need more help at the position, but I'm not sure any more veterans will be coming in. To answer your question, I would be interested in picking up Carr at the right price if he were available.
Paul Perillo

Let me start by saying, you guys are the best! So my two questions start with the cornerbacks. Am I the only one who thinks they'll be fine? Say Bradley Fletcher starts, and let the competition begin between Kyle Arrington, Malcolm Butler and Alfonso Dennard. Then in the nickel and dime packages use Logan Ryan and Robert McClain. Should we really use a high draft pick on this? My second question goes to the inside offensive line. With Dan Connolly visiting the Bucs, and this position already being on the loop, is it possible we can draft a guard in the first round rather than a corner or defensive tackle?

Nathan Lagasse*

You may not be the only thinking the corners are fine but you're definitely in the minority. I don't have anywhere near the faith in the current that you have, and I'm certainly not excited about Fletcher after the season he just completed in Philadelphia. I see a lot of solid extra defensive backs on the roster but not many guys I would feel comfortable with as starters. Competition is one thing but I worry that the secondary will revert to the form of the days before Aqib Talib arrived a few years back. As for the offensive line … I feel there's a definitely possibility that a guard will be the team's first pick. It's a huge need and there should be some talented players available, particularly if the Patriots decide to trade down from 32 and pick up an earlier second-round pick.
Paul Perillo

With the NFL draft coming, I have a two part question. Bill Belichick likes to move down in the draft sometimes out of the first round. Why does Belichick do that? And, by doing that, what kind of talent is he looking for?
Harry Mann Jr.

I believe Belichick simply likes to move around the board in an effort to find value. If there are players he feels strongly about available where he is, then he'll sit tight and pick them unless he feels he can get them later by moving down. He's often done this in the past, and by doing so he gets the player he wanted in the first place while adding some additional picks at the same time. It's not necessarily done in an effort to find a certain type of player but rather to simply maximize his value. I know it can be frustrating at times and I've certainly been critical of the approach at times, but overall I feel he's done a solid job drafting over the years and this philosophy has been part of the reason for that.
Paul Perillo

I enjoy the column weekly here in Alaska where my wife and I continue to be loyal Pats fans 30 years after moving up from Boston. I have a rules question. On the catch by Jermaine Kearse on his back in the last minutes of the Super Bowl after Butler deflected the ball another Patriot jumped over Kearse while he was juggling the ball. Would he have been allowed to kick the ball away while it was in the air? His foot was not far away. Not a situation that comes up very often but I wondered.

Will Saltonstall*

It is an abnormal situation to be sure and certainly Duron Harmon, the player who jumped over Kearse, could easily have knocked the ball away with his foot. But if he were deemed to have intentionally kicked the ball away it could have been a penalty. If a player intentionally kicks a ball it can be called a 15-yard penalty, although in this case I would highly doubt that Harmon, who was in motion, could have intentionally kicked the ball away. Not something you see every day though … it would have been interesting to see what the officials came up with as it's not a scenario that appears in the rule book.
Paul Perillo

Did you guys do mock drafts in 2000, and if you did, was Tom Brady anywhere on it?

Craig Walker*

We don't generally do mock drafts beyond the first round so there's no way anyone had Tom Brady listed back in 2000. He was considered a mid-to-late-round prospect and he ultimately went in the sixth round. Looking back at NFLDraftScout's page from 2000 shows Brady as the ninth-ranked quarterback with a 6-7-round projection. Don't be too hard on them though. They did have an "Up" arrow next to his name so obviously someone felt he was a player on the rise.
Paul Perillo

With Stevan Ridley now talking with other teams, and Shane Vereen already gone, who is line for the number one slot as running back?

Brian Adams*

I think LeGarrette Blount will be the first option to carry the ball but some combination of Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden, Tyler Gaffney, James White and Travaris Cadet will be in the mix for some work as well. Blount has proven he's capable of carrying the load as the lead back the last two years and I'd expect him to take that job again this season if in fact Ridley winds up elsewhere.
Paul Perillo

Will Duron Harmon have more playing time after a season where he had a total of two INT's, against the Dolphins and the Ravens? With that last second INT against the Ravens in the playoffs, Harmon sealed the win for the Patriots.

James Jackson*

Harmon should remain in his role as the third safety behind Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung. I actually think he could supplant Chung this season because I'm not sure the Patriots will be able to use Chung the way they did last year as a de facto linebacker because they won't have the luxury of having a lock-down corner on one side the field. The team might need more of a deep presence at safety in addition to McCourty, and if that's the case I could see Harmon taking some time away from Chung. But at the very least Harmon should see more action in 2015.
Paul Perillo

With the departure of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, the addition of Jabaal Sheard clearly shows the newfound emphasis on an improved pass rush, could you see Jamie Collin's role as a pass rusher and/or blitzer increasing?

Stephen Pascual*

That's sort of a double-edged sword with Collins. Yes he has the athleticism to provide pressure on the passer, and he's done that effectively at times. But he's also athletic enough to work in space as a cover man, and with Revis and Browner gone the secondary can ill afford to use less personnel in coverage than last year. So while I'd like to see Collins' abundant skills utilized to the fullest, I'm not sure that's a luxury the defense can afford. Collins will get his chances to rush but I don't think it will be drastically more than in the past.
Paul Perillo

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