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Ask PFW: Picking the prospects

Time is running out and the draft is nearly upon us so it should come as no surprise that this week's "Ask PFW" mailbag is littered with all kinds of draft-related scenarios. We take a look at a few this week.

Since the Patriots have six picks in the first three rounds, wouldn't it be wise to trade (if possible) our 28th or 33rd pick for a 2012 first-round pick from a team projected to have the worst record next year? Teams such as Carolina, Arizona, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Miami would all be favorable options for a potential trade. The reason I ask is because of the recent speculation that the Patriots might take a quarterback this year to mentor under Tom Brady. But instead, I think we should trade into next year's draft to a team we think will get the No. 1 pick so we can be in the running for Andrew Luck.
Rhys Robinson

That's a very interesting idea and one that we've discussed at length on "PFW in Progress." I think there's a good chance the Patriots will draft a quarterback this year but not necessarily one they feel will be Brady's replacement. I see them taking someone in the later rounds and hoping he can develop into a backup or perhaps even a player who attracts attention around the league and eventually winds up as trade bait. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bill Belichick do exactly as you said and deal for a first-round pick in 2012 – the problem is finding a bad team willing to do that. Your examples surely know that Luck is coming out next year and many of them need a quarterback, so I'm not sure they'd be willing to make such a deal. But the idea of selecting Luck, or any quarterback, at the top of the draft with Brady still here is intriguing.
Paul Perillo

The nomination of Bill Parcells to the Patriots Hall of Fame is considered controversial by many fans who still seem to hold a grudge regarding the way he left the team. However I think the selection committee was wise and impartial in recognizing the important roles he played in restoring credibility to the team and turning the organization around during a very tumultuous time when the team was almost relocated. Could you expound on the reasons why the selection committee felt Parcells was deserving?Jack Fox

I actually wrote a blog post about this very topic after Parcells met with the media on Monday and offered many of the same opinions that you espoused. Parcells entered a situation that was as bleak as if gets – no facilities, no players, no ownership, no direction – and with a lot of help from Robert Kraft the team was soon one of the league's best. He left in unprofessional fashion and for that he deserves to be criticized but the reasons he did so, in my opinion, were valid. He offered stability to a franchise that screamed for it and even though he's not exactly the most trustworthy coach to walk the sidelines, he was indeed worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. Those that endorsed him during our meeting focused on the job he did on the field while those that didn't felt the departure was too much to overlook.
Paul Perillo

Hey guys, I was wondering what you guys think of this first-round secenario: pick 17: draft Muhammad Wilkerson pick 28: draft Phil Taylor. The Pats could move Vince Wilfork to DE and play Wilkerson at the other DE and play Taylor at NT. Add Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes and the Pats would have great run stoppers. And with their D-line having size, the Pats could add a smaller, faster OLB who could just go after the QB and not have to worry about setting the edge against the run.Kartikeya M.

I actually like both Wilkerson and Taylor quite a bit. Wilkerson is very athletic and I feel he'd be a solid choice as a potential replacement for Richard Seymour at DE. He has great feet, and although he's raw, I think has the potential to be a special player. Taylor is huge at 335 pounds and I've been impressed watching his tape as well. Very tough against the run and very strong. I'm not sure he's an ideal nose tackle candidate but I am intrigued with his skill set as well. I do not like the idea of keeping Wilfork at end on a full-time basis. I don't think he's nearly as effective in that role as he is inside. And regardless of how big the defensive line is, the OLBs still need to have the ability to set the edge against the run. Belichick does not have many players who have just one thing to do like "go after the quarterback" and not worry about anything else. I'd prefer drafting an impact pass rusher at 17 if one is available and waiting for 28 to get either Wilkerson or Taylor – but I do like both players.
Paul Perillo

What is the biggest difference between Aldon Smith and Robert Quinn? Who do you think is the better player three years from now?Mike Anderson

I actually like both guys a lot. Smith has been injured while Smith missed time due to a suspension. I'd be quite happy if the Patriots were able to draft either one. Based on very limited samples, I'd say Quinn is the better player due to his explosiveness but I think Smith is more than capable of getting after the passer as well. I don't think there are many significant differences between the two but it seems to me that Quinn was a bit more consistent as an edge rusher than Smith. I'm sure professional scouts would have a lot more differences as well. It's almost impossible to gauge which player would be best down the road without knowing what kind of work ethic, etc., each possesses. Based on ability, like I said, I'd be happy with either one with a slight nod to Quinn.
Paul Perillo

I save all "Ask PFW" through the years and in the 4/07/09 edition Matt Burns asked "From what you see do you think Clay Matthews is worth the 23rd pick in the draft." Andy Hart answers "No, I don't think he'll be an impact defender in the NFL." I love the NFL because future championships are won by deciding who to draft and build your team with. Hindsight is 2020 but if we drafted Clay Matthews in the 2009 draft we would have won the Super Bowl.
Dave Baker

As much as I love when someone calls out the self-proclaimed draft expert Andy Hart for his misses, I must say that Dave needs a hobby. You save all of our mailbags??? I think it's time for some fresh air and sunshine, Dave. Obviously, as you stated, the draft involves a lot of hindsight and Matthews has turned out to be an impact player and then some. I'm not sure the Patriots would have won the Super Bowl with him last year, though. The pass rush was a major problem all year to be sure, but the inability to get pressure had little to do with the playoff loss to the Jets. That one specific game, the offense struggled and couldn't put points on the board and that's why the Patriots went home. But I do understand your larger point about Matthews – and believe me he's not the only player who was passed on that could have helped immensely. He's also not the only player Andy missed badly on – he just never tells you about those.
Paul Perillo

Whomever the Patriots draft will not be showing up at Gillette because it is a locked facility, right? Will there be any communication between the team and the draftees?
Stan C.

Teams can speak with their draft picks when they're selected but once the draft is over all communication will cease. Any and all communication will be prohibited after Saturday.
Paul Perillo

If it made a difference, I would drop down on my knees and beg Belichick not to trade down any of our top three picks, because in rounds 3-4 we get nothing but junk. Please do not trade down 17, 28 and 33 coach!
Ted K.

I share your disdain for the constant trades down but I believe you're forgetting about a lot of players who have helped out this team over the years. The Patriots have received contributions from several players not taken in the first round and many of those came through picks acquired by moving down. Personally I like the idea of using early picks because that's where the best players are taken but it's hard to argue with the success rate the team has had in moving down and acquiring extra picks.
If it makes you feel better, Belichick talked about this subject on SIRIUS radio over the weekend. "One way or another teams will have to, if they want to deal, I think we'll be one of the teams that they'll want to talk to. But there's plenty of good players on the board and as you know, you can't take those draft picks and throw them at your opponents. You've got to actually take a player and the player's got to go out there and help you win so sooner or later you've got to convert those into productive players and that's really our goal for next weekend is to take those three days and improve our football team and get better football players on the team so hopefully we'll be able to do that."
Paul Perillo

On the "Path to the Draft," they are describing how Robert Quinn had little production against good teams and was very Tully Banta-Cain-like. Is he too much of a risk to trade several picks to draft? Also, their top 32 players list had Cameron Jordan at 10 and Aldon Smith at 14. How would they potential match up against Robert Quinn?Lucas White

I already talked about Smith and Quinn and as I said, I'd be happy with either one. Jordan is a different type of player completely. I feel he's more of a 3-4 end, a position he played in college at Cal. He's kind of a 'tweener in that he's not quite big enough to play 3-4 end but too big and not agile enough to transition to OLB for a team like the Patriots. Perhaps someone will ask him to make the switch in the pros but with so many other candidates that fit the mold of outside linebacker I'd be surprised for the Patriots to do so. As for the production against bad teams, I don't give that much merit. If Tully Banta-Cain got 10-12 sacks every year it wouldn't bother me if many of those came against bad teams, as was the case for him two years ago. Many of the game's best pass rushers tend to get them in bunches and often take advantage of a favorable matchup. The Patriots need someone capable of doing that and Quinn and Smith, I believe, can do so.
Paul Perillo

Guys I know we rarely see the Patriots move up in the draft because of their football smarts when it comes to drafting, what would you guys say if they get a guy like A..J. Green or Julio Jones? Would they be willing to give up 17 and 28 for a high pick like the Bengals?
Zac M.

A dramatic move up the charts like that is certainly not something the Patriots have done but Belichick has traded up occasionally in the first round in the past. Would he do it for a wide receiver? I doubt it. I wouldn't for Jones but I'd be tempted to move up to get Green. Many believe he's the best all-around football in the entire draft and he could be available in the second half of the top 10. If that's the case, I would consider moving up to grab him. But I just can't see the Patriots doing something so drastic for a wide receiver.
Paul Perillo

As a big football (and Patriots) fan who has loved the games at Wembley, what do you think the chances are of an International Game in 2011? I know this season itself is in doubt, but I haven't heard anything on NFL Total Access or read anything in the American press about this being an issue in the CBA talks. The Rooney family are keen to bring Pittsburgh to Croke Park in Dublin -- have you guys heard anything on the grapevine? Thanks for your excellent coverage and keeping us Pats fans around the world informed.
David Beckett

The official schedule will be released tonight at 7 p.m. (EDT) on NFL Network but I can tell you that Tampa Bay will play Chicago Oct. 23 in London. It will mark the Bucs second trip across the pond in three seasons since they played the Patriots at Wembley in 2009.
Paul Perillo

I've checked out your RB prospects and was wondering why DeMarco Murray isn't listed as a possible Patriot choice 3-4 round. Why isn't he more highly rated - solid combine numbers and production numbers in college (including great totals as a receiving back). He has size, speed and hands so why is he failing off people's radar. Also, for the first round, I would like the Pats to trade up with Wash (they have so many needs) and get that top level impact pass rusher (Quinn). Your take on what it might cost them to get him.
John Murray

I'm not sure which ratings you were checking out but the PFW guys like Murray a lot. Most of the ratings I've seen list him as a second- or third-round pick and I think the Patriots would do well to get a versatile back like that in the third. He's a great receiver and has the ability to serve in a number of roles as a ball carrier as well. He seems like just the kind of diverse player the Patriots look for in the draft.
As for your trade proposal, I'd guess that trading No. 28, No. 60 and maybe a third-rounder as well would allow you to move up to 10 to get in position to grab Quinn. Washington and Dallas (at 9) are definite trade partner possibilities that we've discussed quite a bit on "PFW in Progress."
Paul Perillo

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