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Ask PFW: Pondering the picks

The draft nears closer and the potential Patriots keep pouring in. This week's "Ask PFW" mailbag takes a look at which players might be best-suited for the Patriots come April.

I think the best course of action for the Patriots is to use their 17th and 28th picks to move up to the sixth pick (if possible). I would think either Robert Quinn, Da'Quan Bowers or Von Miller would be available at that point. Patrick Peterson or A.J. Green might be there, too, but like everyone, I think an edge rusher is most important. They could still get a pretty good OL at 33 or trade the pick for more than its actual value. They would still have enough picks in rounds 2-3 to hopefully pick up a WR, RB, DL and LB. I know they have as many options as moves on a chess board, but I feel this may be a good way to go. I'd like to know what you think of this scenario.
Richard D'Andrea

I actually like the idea of trading up for a specific player – particularly a pass rusher. I'm not sure the Patriots need to get all the way up to six to get one, but perhaps trading 17 along with a second (No. 60) and a third to get to the neighborhood of nine or 10 would do the trick. In that scenario you'd hold onto to 28 and 33 and perhaps be in line for Quinn. If he or Miller (highly unlikely) slips that far, I'd pull the trigger on a move like that. That way the Patriots could still get a quality offensive lineman and then go whichever direction they choose in the second and third rounds. I like your way of thinking, Richard.
Paul Perillo

I know there's lots of talk about the draft, and who we'll take in the first round, but I want to ask you some questions about after we get the Tar Heel tornado (I think we trade both picks to move up and take him). I know we drafted Devin McCourty last year, and it may not be a position of need but what about Jimmy Smith CB Colorado? Also in different picks what about Leonard Hankerson WR the U? Nate Solder OT?
Josh Mears

I'm not completely sold on, what for it, Jimmy Smith. (I bet you thought I was going with the Andy Hart-like Solder there). I think Smith is a solid player but I don't see the need to take a corner that high. I understand that teams need depth at that position but with McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite already on board, I'd rather use the higher picks on areas of greater need. Solder is a possibility and would definitely fill a need, and I'm intrigued by Hankerson if he were to slip deep into the second round. He has size and athleticism and excelled despite shoddy quarterback play at Miami. I like the players you mentioned but wouldn't place such a high priority on cornerback. Although in fairness I would have said the same thing last year and McCourty worked out pretty well.
Paul Perillo

I was wondering a couple things first, can teams do trades for a "player to be named later" or is that out of the question? Second I see a lot of "second tier" free agents who would seem to be a good fit. Do you see the Pats going after guys like Ben Leber from the Vikings to help the pass rush or Ronnie Brown on a low-money, short-term deal to help the RB spot?
Nick Hayes

Teams can't make trades for players at all until there is some sort of resolution to the collective bargaining agreement. So, you can't make a deal for a player to be named later just to skirt the rules. In fact, the league no longer approves trades for "future consideration" or "past consideration" at all. They are very strict about not allowing deals that could potentially circumvent the waiver process. Leber is an interesting possibility as a guy with some experience playing in 3-4 schemes in San Diego. At 6-3, 244 he has the size to play one of the inside spots in New England if Bill Belichick felt his skills would translate, but I don't really see him as a pass rusher. I know he's had some seasons where he's contributed in that department but the Patriots need to dynamic edge rusher and Leber isn't that. As for Brown, I'm a huge fan. He has a diverse skill set with wide receiver hands and the ability to perform in a variety of roles. His health is a huge concern obviously, but if the price is right I'd be interested. Not sure he would agree with your assessment that he'll get a low-money deal. Unless the labor strife lasts into the summer and effectively takes away the free agency period, I believe Brown will get a fair amount of attention.
Paul Perillo

As mentioned, the Patriots need a pass rusher. I would agree with Robert Quinn, trouble is that the teams that need a pass rush and run a 3-4 scheme are in the 5-10 range so a trade up is unlikely. But, the Bengals pick at No. 4 and they are pretty deep in every position except for WR. I think that the WR class is deep this year and they can draft Torrey Smith later in the first round. Can the Patriots trade up to that fourth slot and draft someone like Bowers or Miller or is the price to risky?John Jones

The price to get to four would be enormous and pretty cost you all of your valuable picks. I'm also not sure how the Bengals are so set at every position but wide receiver … they won four games in 2010. With Carson Palmer wanting out, they could use a quarterback for starters. I believe there will be a quality pass rusher to be had in the latter portion of the top 10. As I mentioned earlier, trading to nine or 10 is quite possible and Washington and Dallas are two teams that could be interested in dealing. Washington because the Redskins need picks and Dallas appears to be set on taking a tackle, and there aren't any worthy of such a high selection. So if a quality pass rusher is available, jump to nine or 10 and grab him.
Paul Perillo

Two questions, I'll try to make them short and sweet. In your opinion can Aldon Smith play outside linebacker in the Pats system and if so and if he is around at 17 would he be the Pats pick?
Ryan Matis

I like Aldon Smith and I do believe he could make the transition to outside linebacker. He's 6-4, 258 punds and has run in the 4.6-4.7 range. He's coming off a broken leg and that cost him much of his last season at Missouri but when he played he was quite productive. He also has long arm, which is a bonus when trying to set the edge against the run in the Patriots 3-4 scheme. I believe Smith is a possibility but perhaps 17 is a bit too high to take him. If he's around at 28 I'd be more inclined to grab him there, but I do feel he's a prospect worth keeping an eye on.
Paul Perillo

Been writing in for a long time now and never see anything. I was wondering what you thought of prospects like Cameron Jordan compared to Cameron Heyward? And Robert Quinn compared to Ryan Kerrigan?Cody Swinimer

I feel Jordan is the better fit as a 3-4 end due to his experience playing in that type of scheme at Cal. Many of the draft reviews state that he understands gap responsibilities and run fits well, and that's the most important aspect of playing the end spot for the Patriots. He has the size to succeed in that role but I would rather wait to fill that spot until either 28 or the second round. Hayward isn't necessarily as ready to play in the 3-4 but he is a terrific player – I believe he's a better overall player than Jordan. He's a little bigger and plays both the run and pass very effectively. The problem is he would need to adjust to a three-man front whereas Jordan has already done that. Either way both players are talented and could be candidates for the Patriots. As for Quinn and Kerrigan, again I could see either fitting as outside linebackers but to me Quinn is the more accomplished player. Kerrigan has a non-stop motor and I like his aggressiveness, but in terms of talent I feel Quinn is better. I'd take either one, however.
Paul Perillo

Doyo u think we should try to trade up with Washington. I say them because they don't have many picks and I think we could steal Quinn. You say no trading down but rumor has it we're going to trade down with the Chargers. If so where are we going to put all these picks?
Joe Berry

I've already mapped out a trade scenario involving Washington that I believe makes sense and it's one that Andy and I have talked about at length on "PFW in Progress." As you said, the Redskins need more picks and the Patriots don't. That's one reason I don't necessarily buy the rumor with the Chargers where we'd acquire additional picks. At this point, the Patriots need quality over quantity and trading up, not down, is the best way to get that.
Paul Perillo

I read that without a collective bargain in place by the time the 2011 draft rolls around there is no guarantee of the rules or format for the 2012 draft. Is this true? If so do you think this uncertainty will scare the Pats and other teams away from trading for future picks?Mike Anderson

The way it works is teams can trade picks into the future but they do so at their own risk. In other words, if Belichick trades a second-round pick to a first-rounder in 2012, and the CBA doesn't get resolved and the 2012 draft winds up getting eliminated, then the Patriots are out of luck and lose that pick. That's a highly unlikely scenario, however, and I don't believe the potential for the 2012 draft to be lost will not affect teams' trading plans.
Paul Perillo

I was wondering what you guys thought of trading Aaron Hernandez and our No. 33 pick to the Vikings for Sidney Rice? Is that price too high for a guy like him or not enough? I believe that trade would benefit both teams by allowing the Pats to get a receiver to pair with Brady for the rest of his career and allow the Vikings to pick a QB with that pick at start of second round, perhaps a guy like Christian Ponder.Matthew McLaughlin

This is one of the rare times when I actually think a trade proposal from a Patriots fans favors the other team. I love Rice and would love to see him catches passes from Brady. I feel he'd become one of the most dangerous receivers in the game playing in the Patriots offense. But I don't feel he's worth a quality young player and the first pick of the second round. And Rice is a free agent so you can't trade for him anyway … he's going to sign a big-money deal with someone. Plus, why do you want to trade Hernandez? I know he slowed down in the second half but he's still young and figures to improve. I say keep him and use draft picks in any trade to acquire a receiver.
Paul Perillo

Should the Pats draft A.J. Green or Julio Jones?Jonathan Galdamez

I love Green but there's no way he's going to be available at 17 when the Patriots pick. And there's not a big enough need at wide receiver to warrant trading up to get him. I don't like Jones as much but if he were to fall perhaps I could be persuaded to use the 28th pick on him. He won't get that low, however. Short answer to your short question, no.
Paul Perillo

First I'm going to say that although you all have a bromance with Robert Quinn, I highly doubt that the Patriots will trade up to top 10 for him. And plus, who knows... he could be a complete failure as he hasn't played for a year. Not saying he's bad necessarily, just a huge risk. I'm looking at some players that I feel are safer picks. But hey, it's BB. 3 questions: 1) What do you think of Ryan Kerrigan? At 6-4 and 267 pounds, he is an ideal size for what the Patriot defense needs. He looks like he bulls through the offensive line and is an extremely good pass rusher. The only downside I feel is that he is a bit on the slow side and may have some coverage issues. He is projected to go in the mid-late first round, which is exactly where the Patriots have their picks. 2). When is Brandon Meriweather going to get traded? Seriously, with Patrick Chung and James Sanders side by side (they aren't the best of the best, but they're reliable) I can see no need for one that takes horrible angles and seems to have issues off the field. I say he's worth a fourth-round pick that can be used to help trade up in the draft if needed.
Andrew Sun

I'm not sure exactly why you feel some players are much bigger risks than others just because of time off. Quinn didn't play last year because he violated an NCAA rule. He wasn't injured and trying to come back. He wasn't suspended for drugs, violence or any other law-related reason. He showed poor judgment but there's no reason to believe his risk of becoming a quality NFL player is any greater than Ryan Kerrigan's or anyone else's. For the record, I do like both Quinn and Kerrigan (although I do not approach the bromance levels of Andy Hart when it comes to Quinn). I feel both will be solid players but I think Quinn has the chance to be more than that. As for the safeties, I totally agree with your assessment. Unfortunately the labor situation prevents teams from making deals and Meriweather is in the final year of his contract anyway, so it would be unlikely that he's be dealt. Sanders and Chung comprised the team's best safety tandem a year ago and I'd expect that to be the case once again.
Paul Perillo

I know you guys have a bit of a problem with the Patriots selecting a pass rushing DE with the 17th since we traded away exactly that in Seymour. However, it's possible they thought they could succeed without that, so they traded Seymour to get more value elsewhere. But now it's become pretty apparent that they are in dire need of some form of pass rush. I don't care if it's a DE or OLB. Just pick whoever fits best who's available at 17.
Michael Aboud

I feel the Patriots scheme doesn't lend itself to strong pass rushers at the defensive end spot and as much as I liked and admired Seymour's play in New England I wouldn't consider him a strong pass rusher. He was better than the guys who are here now, but it wasn't what he did best. The pass rushers, the guys who can truly make an impact on the game, are outside linebackers in the Patriots scheme. That's why I want to go in that direction and not take a defensive end. In other words, if you take a guy like Cameron Jordan, who most people agree is a good fit as a 3-4 defensive end, then you're going to be disappointed if you're expecting him to rush the passer effectively.
Paul Perillo

My question is about the backup quarterback position. Do the Pats view Brian Hoyer as the future quarterback of the franchise or do they view him as more of a career backup?Matt Sadej

That's a really good question. I don't think it's easy to say either way at this point but my guess is they feel he's a solid backup who would be capable of filling in for Brady if needed – at least on a short-term basis. The question is, could he be more than that and really until he plays there's no way of knowing that for sure. There have been many players who looked the part in practice who couldn't do it under pressure in game action. How Hoyer handles that remains unseen. Few would have envisioned Matt Cassel doing so well back in 2008 based off his performance that summer, but there have been far more examples of players who looked good in practice but not when it counted. Personally, I view Hoyer as a career backup who could be useful in short stints but would be exposed if he were forced into action over the long haul. Again, no way of knowing that for sure without getting a chance to evaluate him over a longer period of time.
Paul Perillo

Guys with the rookie wage scale looking like a done deal how do you think this will affect draft strategy? I'm thinking teams would be more apt to trade up since it's not as big a financial risk? Bill likes to trade down. I'm thinking since the cost has gone down then maybe the reality of trading up has gone up?
Jeff Verderber

I agree with your philosophy but keep in mind that it's also more valuable for the teams picking at or near the top. The past few years teams have been more interested in moving down because of the potential money they'd have to pay the top picks. Now that's not as big a concern, therefore they might be looking for more from potential trade partners than in the past. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but definitely I'd say there will be more candidates to move up than in the recent past.
Paul Perillo

We all know that the NFL is a cyclical league. The 4-3 defense, the 3-4 defense, the single back offense. Hell, even the single wing was popular in Miami for a couple of years. Do you think we will ever go back to seeing two backs in the backfield who run, block and catch in equal measure? Think back to the 80's when the Pats had Craig James and Tony Collins in the backfield together. Other teams like Cleveland had Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner, the Bears had Walter Payton and Matt Suhey. The Pats do not even have a fullback on the roster at the moment. How long before a team makes the move back to this sort of offense and slowly everyone follows?
Eddie Hodgetts

I think there's a lot of truth to what you say about the cyclical nature of the league. I also believe there are still teams that utilize a fullback or two-back sets at least part of the time. I don't believe the league will return that type of attack on a widespread basis, however. The Patriots offense used some two-back sets last year but rarely, and I don't see a traditional fullback being added to the mix. Now, if a Heath Evans, hybrid type were available I could see Belichick being interested. But in terms of a true running, blocking catching threat, I don't see Belichick using a fullback in that way. I feel most teams are flooding the field with receivers and as the league gets more and more pass-heavy the need for multiple backs being used simultaneously has diminished greatly and unless there are further rule changes I don't see that ending anytime soon.
Paul Perillo

Hello from Florida! I want to say thinks for giving me my football fix during this whole CBA dispute. I absolutely enjoy reading everybody's opinions on PFW. I was wondering, I know you guys are pretty big on Robert Quinn, but what do you think of Von Miller? If he is available at a reasonable spot, should New England move up to get him?
Anthony Macareo

I love Von Miller. I believe he definitely will be a fit for a 3-4 team looking for an edge guy even though he's a bit smaller at 6-2 than some others. I like his versatility and his ability to play both the run and the pass. I just like Quinn a little more and that's why I've been harping on him over anyone else. Miller is actually the higher rated prospect and he almost certainly will go in the top five. However, if I had my choice between Miller and Quinn, I'd take Quinn even though few others would agree.
Paul Perillo

Are there any good long snapper prospects this year, and do you see us drafting for that job this year since our last pick was cut?
Wayne Hickman

I certainly hope not. I thought drafting Jake Ingram was a waste of a pick and it had nothing to do with the fact that he was cut last year. I just think long snappers are always available as free agents, much like Matt Katula was last season after Ingram was released. But if the Patriots are looking for a long snapper again there are a couple in this draft. Virginia's Danny Aiken is considered the best and is a possible seventh-round pick. Also, Iowa's Andrew Schulze could be a guy Belichick takes a look at given his ties to Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz.
Paul Perillo

With Da'Quan Bowers stock slipping (I am not sure if this is pre-draft misinformation gamesmanship or truly an injury worry), is he a fit for BB's 3-4 defense at OLB? Could you play scout for us and analyze Bowers and Ryan Kerrigan?
Tim Cullen

He does fit the mold, although he's little heavy, but I don't see it as a fit. I see him as more of a 4-3 defensive end – a guy who can get up the field on the pass rush but not necessarily one who would be effective setting the edge against the run as an outside linebacker. Bowers is talented and worthy of evaluating, however. Like his athleticism and if Belichick thought he could work with him in terms of dropping into coverage and things like that, then I'd be intrigue. But based on my limited knowledge of Bowers, I think he's best suited to play end in the 4-3. Kerrigan is more of a true edge pass rusher who has more of a chance to play standing up and appears better suited to man the OLB spot due to his quickness.
Paul Perillo

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