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Ask PFW: Post-Combine Questions

An abbreviated mailbag this week as PFW returns from the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

With [offensive lineman] Nick Kaczur refusing a pay cut, is it in the realm of possibility for the Pats to trade the 28th pick, plus Kaczur and maybe a 5th round pick, to get [wide receiver] Larry Fitzgerald from Arizona?
Phil M.

As I wrote in Ask PFW three weeks ago, I'd love to see Fitzgerald in a Patriots jersey. As I also explained back then, it will take a substantial sum for any team to pry the Cardinals' best player away from Arizona. I don't think one first-round pick, an average-at-best o-lineman, and a middling draft pick is enough to get it done.
Erik Scalavino

I just read that [Vikings wide receiver] Sidney Rice will be testing the free-agent market this year. Any chance the Pats take a chance on him? I'd like to see us pick him up, and focus our draft picks on o-line, running back, and defense.
Jesse Ferrier

What are the chances of us signing Sydney Rice? He is a dynamic wide receiver and can help our offense.
John Wilcrent

Since the Vikings chose not to franchise Sidney Rice, do you think we could make an offer to him? I would love to see Brady have a tall receiver that can stretch the field.Rick Goodwin

It's a possibility… assuming, of course, that there is a free agency period this year and Rice isn't asking for an exorbitant amount. He might be, but what he'd be seeking would, in all likelihood, be considerably less than what Fitzgerald would cost, so, Rice might be a more feasible alternative.

I agree with your draft assessment, Jesse, only I'd rearrange the priorities: defense first, then o-line, and add wide receiver to the mix before running back. There are better pass catchers than ball carriers in this draft class, and the former position is more of a need for New England, in my estimation.
Erik Scalavino

Hi guys. Everyone is talking about [UNC defensive end/outside linebacker] Robert Quinn, and I understand that he is a terribly gifted player, but I personally have a preference for [Texas A&M outside 'backer] Von Miller, because he was already an OLB in college I think. Where do you think he could land (experts think Arizona), what are the chances that the Pats move up to get him, and what would they have to give up for doing that?*Pierre Steenblik *

Having just returned from the Scouting Combine with Andy Hart, we had a chance to speak with both Quinn and Miller, as well as all the other top prospects at every position. We were particularly focused on outside linebackers and defensive end hybrids, because that is (and has been for the past few years) the biggest need for New England. The information we gathered there, of course, is mostly personality- and statistical-related. We haven't had a chance to watch virtually any game film of these players, however. We'll be doing that in the days ahead. Based on the limited info we have right now, it's too soon to make a declarative statement, but if I had to make a decision right now, I'd probably go with Quinn, but I'm reserving judgment till I see more of these guys on the field.

Many of the players at the Combine will conduct Pro Days in March – individual and/or group workouts at their schools – to give scouts and analysts a better idea of their draft position. Mock drafts can and will change dramatically over the course of the next month and a half. So, it's still too early to say with certainty where Miller might land. At the moment, he appears to be an early-to-mid first-round prospect, but that could fluctuate significantly.
Erik Scalavino

Hey, guys, I've seen a lot of talk on Ask PFW about moving up to get a quality pass rusher. With a deep pass rushing class this year (Da'Quan Bowers, Quinn, Miller, Ryan Kerrigan, Aldon Smith, and Cameron Jordan, to name a few), do the Pats really need to move up? Can't we get quality at #17, 28, or even 33? Thanks for the great work!
Bob Malloy

With the great talent at DE/OLB in this draft, especially with a lot of the guys projected to go early on, do you guys find it plausible that the Patriots may package guard Logan Mankins and one of our late first-/early second-round picks to get up to the top 6 or 7 spots in the draft? Mankins is clearly unhappy in New England and we could pick up another Guard with one of our other early picks in this year's draft. Thanks guys!
Kyle Volo

Yes, it is a fairly good list of potential playmakers that Bob put together there. If the Patriots decide to stay put in the middle of the first round, they should be able to select one of those big names. Problem is, recent history suggests they won't stay there. Bill Belichick likes to trade down and collect so-called "value" picks, as I'm sure you're aware. My fear is that he'll do so again, but I'm hoping he either keeps what he has or gets aggressive and moves up. It might take Mankins, as Kyle suggested, to get up in the top 10, but I'd rather see the team keep him. He's the best o-lineman they've had in a generation, and it would significantly weaken that position if he's no longer part of it.
Erik Scalavino

Dear PFW, I've been following the NFL Combine, and I was extremely impressed with [Alabama WR] Julio Jones. His broad and vertical jump were absolutely great and he's nearly 6-3, 220, and ran a 4.39, so, you know he's fast. The Pats need a dominant wide receiver that people fear at the line of scrimmage. Is there any chance that the Patriots move up in the draft ahead of the Rams and draft him, or will they out smart themselves and draft a wideout in the fourth or fifth round that may not be as talented?
DeMarcus Bradley

Jones is gifted, yes, but defense is New England's priority. They need a pass rusher. Period. The only receiver I'd be happy to see the Patriots trade for would be Fitzgerald.
Erik Scalavino

Could we sign a player from outside the NFL – say the UFL or Canada – this offseason? There are definitely some good players, and if there is no NFL free agency, could we pick up some of them?
Jackson Perry

Great question, Jackson. Unfortunately, if there is a lockout, no players can be signed to an NFL contract, regardless of their current status. That means no UFL, no CFL, no Arena league players… nobody.
Erik Scalavino

With the Jets releasing [DE/OLB Vernon] Gohlston, do you think it would be worthwhile bringing him in for a look? He is physically everything that you want in an outside linebacker in the 3-4 but has obviously been a huge bust so far. Do you think that the Patriot coaches could get some production from him?Eddie Hodgetts

I'd kick the tires on Gholston, but my expectations would be low, given what he's done (or what he hasn't, to be precise) in the NFL. However, if anyone can get anything out of any player, it's Belichick. So, yeah, I'd give Gholston a look, if only to do due diligence.
Erik Scalavino

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