Do you guys hear any rumblings in terms of projections on Brissett vs. Garoppolo? ( For the long run that is.) Comment: for all those that wanted to trade Garoppolo, go ask the Jets, Bills and Miami how easy it is to get a franchise QB like Marino and Jim Kelly and Joe Namath. Long time since those guys left. If Garoppolo even could be a guy you can win a Lombardi Trophy with, it's foolish to me to have wanted a deal for draft picks. Those drat picks are a crapshoot. There's many more teams in the league like the Bills, Jets and 'Phins too and they almost have slim to no odds of winning the Super Bowl without a solid QB. I think the Pats have done a brilliant job if Brissett and Garoppolo have a shot at being a guy that can be a top-10 QB in the league.
Brissett is the clear No. 3 quarterback in New England and his future will depend on his development in the next couple years. He was thrown to the wolves last September after very limited reps in the summer on both the practice and game fields. His efforts were admirable to help the Patriots win a couple games, but he's a long way from running the New England offense the way that Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo do. Bill Belichick has made it clear over the last year-plus that Garoppolo is capable of running/leading the offense the same way Brady does, even if the execution might not be the same. Clearly the Patriots love Garoppolo. Clearly they believe he can be a successful starter in the NFL. I think they feel he's capable of leading the current team to the Super Bowl if something were to happen to Brady. That's a great luxury to have. The real question, though, is what happens down the road. The ideas of franchising Garoppolo next winter and keeping him moving forward are interesting in relation to Brady's stated desires to play another half-decade or more. For right now, though, the Patriots are as set at the QB position as any team in the NFL. As you mentioned – and as we saw on draft weekend – most teams can't find one starting-caliber NFL quarterback and New England appears to have two.
Hey guys. So interesting draft selection wouldn't you say? Personally I'm pretty satisfied with our picks. We addressed areas of need on both lines of the ball and even managed to get a decent TE with special teams skills in O'Shaughnessy. My concern was the Conor McDermott tackle we picked up in the sixth round. He looks like another Solder on our hands. A big animal that can't block against the rush, do we really need another issue like that? What do you guys think of the players we picked overall? Personally I'd give us a solid B+ on the draft this year.
I really liked the picks in the third round of Derek Rivers and Antonio Garcia. I think Rivers is a solid edge athlete who might be able to compete for at least rotational reps as a pass rusher as a rookie, even if he is making a big jump in competition level. Garcia looks like he has the tools to be a competitive left tackle down the road, which is probably the plan. Nate Solder is in the final year of his contract and Garcia might be insurance against Solder not being part of the future, for whatever reason. I didn't like the latter picks as much. Deatrich Wise Jr. is a guy that a lot of media members gushed over, but I don't really see his upside. He's not a true speedy edge rusher but also gets pushed around too much for my liking. And McDermott is a developmental guy who I think will be a right tackle in the NFL. I don't think he's anywhere near as good or athletic as Solder who was obviously a first-round pick, so that's not a great comparison. As for a grade, I'd give a solid B, for whatever that's worth in a draft that most picks got traded away for an elite team that really had limited needs.
Dear PFW, I would just like to ask a small question regarding Brandin Cooks and his fit into the system. Do you think that he will play in the slot or out wide? He can beat corners and safeties with his speed, but I have doubts about jump balls because of his lack of height. Maybe he could run in both? When I watch his tape and highlights, I definitely see him running more posts and flys than slants and curls, but maybe that is just because of the Saints system? Is he a 3-down receiver (would you play him on 3rd down)? Do you think he will be a good fit for us and help us win a Super Bowl? I know he has phenomenal speed and an impressive vertical, and I hope we establish a more long term deal with him if he meets/exceeds standards.
Cooks, like most Patriots receivers, will probably move all over the formation at various times. He's sort of a 'tweener between a big-play slot guy and an outside weapon. I don't think he'll make his money on endless slants and option routes underneath, but he'll do some of that. His speed and big-play ability are why he's in New England, creating potential excitement that even caught the attention of Patriots owner Robert Kraft in his comments regarding Cooks at the NFL meetings. Cooks can catch short and run away from a defense. He can also get behind a defense down the field. I do think he'll be a good fit as a different kind of weapon mixing in with the likes of Rob Gronkowski, James White, Julian Edelman and the rest of the Brady's big group of targets. Now it's up to Josh McDaniels to figure out all the personnel groupings and how to put all the talent to good use each week. It should be fun to watch.
Perhaps I've just missed it, but I haven't read anything about JGs role in a potential trade. I don't think a team is going to trade draft picks for him unless he agrees to a long-term deal. He has no say in trading him and his current contract, but he doesn't have to sign a contract with a team he doesn't want to play for, like Cleveland or San Fran, for instance. I think his best option is to finish out the last year on his rookie contract, become an UFA, then make his own decision about where he is going. I think that is exactly what he is doing. I think the Pats are wise to keep him, but I don't think they could trade him even if they want to, because I don't think he's fool enough to sign a long-term deal with a dysfunctional organization like Cleveland (16 mill of cap money for a second-round draft pick?). Have any of these writers who claim to have inside info discussed this aspect of a trade? What do you think his best move is? He's not a potted plant, he does have some leverage.
This has been written about and discussed often this offseason. But I also think it's very much overrated. I don't think Garoppolo would be as concerned about signing a contract worth $70 million or more in Cleveland or San Francisco or anywhere else in the NFL as Patriots fans seem to think he would be. He's made it quite clear he wants to start. He's unlikely to inherit a Super Bowl-caliber team anywhere other than New England. He also won't have true freedom next winter, because if he's still a Patriot at that time he'll likely be under the franchise tag. He could be traded under that tag or forced to remain in New England yet again with productive years of his career continuing to fade away as a backup. And if he were traded this offseason he'd already be a multi-millionaire as a starter for another team. He's neither rich nor a starter in New England. I think his best move is whatever leads to him getting a starting job and big, future-altering contract as soon as possible.
Some people are already hopping that UFA WR Austin Carr could be the next Edelman. He is bigger but also slower than Edelman was, and I wonder if that is already be a key difference when competing against fast-quick CBs?
Carr is certainly not Julian Edelman. He would bring a different set of skills to the slot position. But that doesn't mean he can't be a success down the road. Comparing pro day results, the 5-10 Edelman is slightly faster and quicker than the 6-0 Carr. Edelman ran a 4.52 40 with a 1.52 10-yard split and a 6.62 three-cone drill coming out of Kent State. Carr ran a 4.62 40 with a 1.60 10-yard split and a 6.70 three-cone this spring. Carr had one very productive year at Northwestern with 90 catches last fall. Edelman had never played receiver when he arrived in Foxborough. Clearly Carr is a developmental prospect as an undrafted rookie, but I do think his NFL future, if he has one, is in the slot. And we all know given the age/health of Danny Amendola and the age/contract status of Edelman there is room for a young, developmental slot receiver in New England. Only time will tell if Carr can mold himself into that role in the offense.
Barring some injuries, it looks like there will be a few players on the bubble to make 53-man roster, and I would hate to see us lose either TE Lengel or RB Foster. My question is will Lengel. who is a proven blocker and has a Gronk-like build and possibly catching potential, and promising Foster who can step in next year when there will be a big void in RB contracts - both get spots somehow?
You are right, both are very much on the bubble and might have a hard time sticking around. I think you are higher on Matt Lengel's upside than most. He's a functional blocker but I don't see his "Gronk-like" upside as a pass catcher, especially at the age of 26 with just two NFL receptions to his name. It would seem Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen are locks at tight end if healthy, which means that Lengel and trade addition James O'Shaughnessy may be battling for the No. 3 spot. (Michael Williams could be in the mix as well!) D.J. Foster was on the roster all last year, mostly as a game inactive, as an undrafted rookie. He arrived as a versatile pass catcher and third-down type. There is a lot of depth at running back this year – Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, James White, Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden with Foster. The top three are locks to be on the team, though Burkhead is on a one-year contract. The rest may be battling it out for depth roles and special teams contributions. Foster impressed me last summer, but not to the point where I'd say the team has to find a way to keep him around. He and Lengel will both have to earn their spots in 2017. I wouldn't give either better than a 50/50 shot of sticking around, if that.
I think that overall the Pats definitely helped themselves in the draft process strengthening both lines. My question concerns the TE position. Jake Butt was still available at the beginning of the 5th round. Wouldn't they have been better served by moving up and grabbing him instead of trading their 5th round pick for O'Shaughnessy, who is probably a serviceable TE but not with the upside potential of Butt? Your thoughts.
I don't have much knowledge of O'Shaughnessy to go on, but in theory I would have preferred Butt. Clearly there is a chance the Michigan product doesn't play as a rookie as he works back from a torn ACL. Still, I think Butt has a solid future as a solid tight end. I don't think he'll be a star but feel like he'll be a more-than-capable contributor at the NFL level as both a receiver and blocker down the road. Clearly, though, the team wasn't as impressed, for whatever reason.
After watching Derek Rivers play against West Virginia, it seems that he is very comfortable standing up and playing in space. He also seemed a bit underpowered to play DE. Given that he is a height, weight and speed clone of Jamie Collins do you think the Patriots drafted him to be primarily a stand up LB to fill the Collins role in the defensive scheme?
I do not. Certainly Rivers will play on two feet at times, as has been the case with most Patriots defensive ends in recent years. Early on, though, Rivers may be a sub rusher on the edge, which could be times when Trey Flowers bumps inside where he's proven to be pretty successful. Collins was one of the best athletes in the draft and the NFL. Rivers is anywhere near that level athletically. I think he'll be more of an edge player – whether in a two- or three-point stance – than Collins who was a more traditional off-the-line linebacker trying to make plays all over the field. That said, I am very much intrigued to see where Rivers' athleticism and skill set can take him in New England.
We have heard that the NFL is a copycat league from coaches and front office people. Do you think that Coach Belichick is once again the trendsetter and ahead of the curve by using draft picks to acquire young talented veteran players? This isn't the 1st time he's done it but this year out of 9 "draft picks", 5 are proven talent rather than rookie hopefuls. OR, is this year an anomaly?
I think it's more of an anomaly. It's also not really great business due to the comparable length of contracts and financial investments. Sure Brandin Cooks is better than any player New England likely would have landed at No. 32. But that prospect would have been under control for five years, four of those at very team-friendly money. Cooks, on the other hand, has one year at low money, then a jump to $8-plus million next year and will be a free agent after that. In general it's always better to draft well and develop players. But, when opportunities present themselves to augment that plan – or to make up for past failures in the draft – I think smart teams take advantage of it. The Patriots did that this spring and it's added young talent to an already impressive roster.
Of the four players the Patriots selected in the draft, it seems only Derek Rivers will be vying for playing time in the 2017 season, with the others more likely to redshirt and be developed for starting roles in 2018 and beyond. However, the draft yielded 12 players in total, through deals and trades, so the lack of day one starters doesn't concern me. This also isn't an issue because the roster was extremely strong before the draft. Of those brought in after the draft, I am most intrigued by Austin Carr, the UDFA slot receiver who signed a contract on Sunday and was incredibly productive at Northwestern. He has good size (6' 1" 194lbs), quickness, toughness, youth, and great hands and feet, so could he be replacement for Danny Amendola and maybe even Julian Edelman in the future?
Check out how some of the Patriots looked during the year they were drafted.
As I said earlier, Carr could be a different look at the slot position. At 6-0, 202 he's bigger than guys over the years like Edelman, Amendola, Wes Welker and Troy Brown. He's not as quick and really only had one breakout year of production at Northwestern with 90 catches and 12 touchdowns last fall. I'll be interested to see how his skill set looks on the practice field this summer and whether he might be a developmental option at the position with an eye on the future.
Patriots had a solid draft but here is one glaring weakness on their roster - speed at ILB. Pats won't get lucky two years in a row with [Le'Veon] Bell and [Tevin] Coleman getting hurt and it may cost them a SB. I am also baffled that Patriots lost Grugier-Hill last year to the Eagles while guys like Grissom and Richards showed nothing worthy being on the roster. Is there any athletic defensive talent among Patriots undrafted free-agents?
Certainly speed on defense was a concern in the Super Bowl and there is something to your point about the linebacker position lacking in that area. That said, I'm not ready to call it a fatal flaw by any means. I wasn't too shaken up at the Kamu Grugier-Hill loss via waivers to the Eagles last summer and I'm still not. Geneo Grissom and Jordan Richards – despite their inability to find roles on defense to this point – had every bit as much potential and athletic upside as Grugier-Hill – the 208th pick in last year's draft -- entering the league as much higher picks. It hasn't worked out. No, I don't see a lot that will be to your liking in the class of undrafted rookies. BYU's Harvey Langi is an inside linebacker, but won't wow anyone with a 4.7 40. If speed at inside linebacker -- don't forget that Jonathan Freeny returns from IR, for what that's worth! – is the Patriots biggest issue this fall I think the team will be more than OK.
I don't get Wise pick, do you? He is too small for the inside and too slow for the outside. Why wouldn't they take a chance on a skilled player or even a guard? Pats historically did OK in round 4 with WR, CB and guard.
I don't love the Wise pick like many in the media seem to, but I am not going to get too worked up over it. He has clear potential and some skills that might warrant a spot in the mix on the defensive line if he can prove his worth this summer. And history of success or failure has nothing to do with. All that matters is what the Patriots – who've said often in recent weeks that they have a smaller draft board than most and usually only grade 50-75 players as worthy of a pick – think about the players on the board at any given time. Clearly they liked Wise more than the other options. Time will tell if they are right or not.
During today's [PFW in Progress] draft radio show, Paul [Perillo] brought up the question I asked about Gronk's size, running style, awkward falls and injury risk. There was general agreement that this is a problem that risks further injury. Unfortunately, you missed the second question about a possible solution to this problem. I suggested that he dedicate pay off his personal training regimen to two things: 1. Increased flexibility (Brady's method). 2. Learning to take contact and fall safely and under control. The disciplines that do this best are Judo and Aikido, where the major skills involve falling and rolling to redirect and absorb the energy/momentum of the fall in a controlled manner. What do you think? And if you agree, who could pass this suggestion onto Gronk and the training/conditioning staff?
Could Gronkowski be more flexible? Maybe. Do I think that, or "learning to fall" will solve his problems? No. I'll reiterate what I said on the radio show, I think massive freak tight ends like Gronkowski put more stress on their bodies than nature intended. They are really too big, fast and physical for their own good. And I don't think you can really plan how you fall on a football field. Part of Gronkowski's greatness is his unwillingness to go down. He looks to run over, through or around every defender to make big plays. It's why he led the NFL in yards per reception when he was on the field last fall. He makes his living giving and delivering blows at a high rate of speed. That's a recipe for injury in the middle of a football field. It just is. And I don't think there is a way to avoid that fact. I think guys that can stay healthy in that role – like Cowboys future Hall of Famer Jason Witten – are more the exception than the norm. Big, fast, playmaking tight ends seem to get hurt a lot. Just ask Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert, Travis Kelce and others.
A few surprises in round 1 of the draft. I think Cleveland added some talent to their roster, but I just saw that the Browns released TE Gary Barnidge. Any chance the Pats put in a claim on him? I'd rather have him as our TE2 than D. Allen.
I am sure the Patriots will at least consider Barnidge, the surprise cut in Cleveland after the Browns drafted David Njoku. Barnidge is just 31 and caught more than 120 total passes over the last two years when he played in all 32 games. He may have more opportunities than being third on the Patriots depth chart, but if not I think he'd make a nice pass-catching depth option. I don't think he's worth much of an investment, but he's at least worth a kick of the tires.
Amazed that teams would roll the dice in Round 1 on unproven QBs (who seem to flame out 2/3 of the time) instead of reaching for Jimmy G, who's still very young, has unbelievable release and actually has some wins. What are those teams thinking, such as Chicago (JG is from that area). How did Scar resurrect Marcus Cannon's career? After the loss to Denver in the AFC Championship, it looked like Marcus might be cut in the next offseason. And now he might be the best Right OT in the league. What magic potion did Scar use?
Pete in England
By all accounts the Browns did call about Garoppolo, multiple times on draft weekend, and were rebuffed by the Patriots. Clearly, New England is pretty set on holding onto the fourth-year backup. I'm still surprised, but that's the reality. Garoppolo is more developed, clearly, than the rookie draft picks. He's been the league three-plus years, but he would also cost any team trading for him both in terms of trade compensation and a large contract. There would still be risk in that for a guy who has finished exactly one more NFL game than the rookies who got drafted. One. As for Cannon, I think the coaching return of legend Dante Scarnecchia was only part of the right tackle's success. Another part was that he was clearly in the best shape of his career, something Bill Belichick pointed out on more than one occasion. Cannon was also heading into a contract year, which can be great motivation for a player. Put it all together and he had his best season to earn a very lucrative contract extension. Hopefully he recognizes his coach's role in that contract and got him a nice present for the efforts. And hopefully Cannon's improved play continues moving forward and wasn't a one-year thing.
Hello, Big Pats fan all the way from Texas. Soooo I know with all these roster moves everybody is saying that we're in a win-now mode since Bill or Brady might retire soon, but hear me out, do you think another reason the Patriots are in an all-in type deal is because Bill and Brady are going for the 1 thing that they weren't able to pull off... a perfect season, like do you think that's secretly Bill's ultimate goal? Deep down he's upset that he just missed it last time, which is why he paid high prices for Gilmore and Cooks this year?... And if he does achieve that this year or next, I don't see this roster lasting for more than 2 seasons, but if he does do it, does he leave on top as by far the best head coach ever?
I think Belichick basically tries to win every game his team plays. So in that way I do believe he's looking to be undefeated in 2017. But I don't think he made specific moves this offseason with that goal in mind. I still think he lives by his common refrain, that he does what's in the best interests of the football team, with an eye on both short- and long-term considerations. I think some opportunities came about this offseason in terms of trades and cap money that led to a pretty aggressive approach. If Belichick and Brady do accomplish the elusive perfect season, I think it would make him the greatest coach in terms of winning of all time. He's already in that argument. I don't, however, know that it makes him the best head coach ever. I still think there are strong arguments to be made for guys like Paul Brown and Vince Lombardi, especially given the former's overall contributions to the game of football.
Does the trade for Cooks require a diminished roll from Mitchell or Hogan? Both were been down field threats (especially Hogan) last year. How many receivers would the Pats have room for on the 53-man?
It certainly would seem that Cooks' arrival – coming off consecutive seasons with at least 78 catches and at least 1,100 yards – would take away some opportunities for others. Given that he will spend at least a good chunk of his time on the outside, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell are the top candidates to lose reps/catches. Of course this is based on the idea that all will be healthy, which is anything but a given. My hope is that Cooks will not slow Mitchell's development. I was intrigued by the rookie and hope to see him get the chance to grow in his second season. Hogan is more a complementary player in my opinion who will have to prove an ability to maximize more limited chances, maybe in the way that Jabar Gaffney did in his time in New England.
Do you think that Bill Belichick has been passed over too many times for the best GM award??
Yes. But so, too, has Nick Caserio. Scott Pioli won the award for top executive in the past in New England and I think Caserio fills the same role with the same success and deserves more serious consideration for the honor even if he's not the type of self-promotor that Pioli was back in the day. But in reality Belichick is the top personnel decision maker in New England and should be up for the executive of the year award almost every season. I don't have a great reason for him not winning it other than maybe the fact that he's only listed as the head coach, which doesn't make any sense. He makes all the decisions. He always has.
Hi from Israel (again!). Do you think the Pats can employ a three-running back attack on the field? Gillislee, Burkhead and White on the field?
While they could do something like that, I don't think it would be the best of sets for the offense. The team has too many skilled weapons at receiver and tight end to use three of five eligible receiver spots on running backs. There will probably be a decent number of times with two running backs on the field, but not three. The only way I'd be in favor of it would be in the case of injuries to the other positions. Otherwise I want Gronkowski, Edelman, Cooks and others on the field often and the backs rotating through their various roles mostly one at a time.
What do you think about Russ Francis, for Pats HOF? I've been a Pats fan since '75-76 - that was the year that tight end Russ Francis was the 1st draft selection for the Pats. Although he didn't have a long career in NE (I think it was for about 5 years, after which he played for SF, and won a SB with Montana), he played incredibly well during his Pats years - so much so, that Howard Cosell dubbed him "All World" on Monday Night Football - in part because of his great blocking and pass catching, and in part, because of his overall athleticism (track and field star, wrestler, etc...). I believe he was an All-Pro for most, if not all, of his NE career (pre Pro Bowl era). Were it not for a bogus roughing the passer call late in a playoff game vs. Oakland, I think that '76 team might have gone on to win the Super Bowl. The 2001 "Tuck Rule Call" was poetic justice indeed...
Francis is clearly worthy of Patriots Hall of Fame consideration. Unfortunately he hasn't generated a lot of support or debate in the selection committee's meetings over the years. I'm not part of the committee but Francis has not gotten the same support as the more modern candidates. He's never been a finalist and still seemingly faces a long, uphill battle for the honor. But his numbers and reputation, as you said, at least warrant discussion. He averaged better than 14 yards a catch in all but one of his first six seasons in New England and caught 35 or more passes in four of those years, a bigger accomplishment in that day than it might look under modern standards.
Do you think the Patriots will trade or release Jacoby Brissett since they obviously favor Jimmy G as the successor to Brady?
Three-plus years into his career as a former second-round pick, Garoppolo is certainly well ahead of Brissett who was a third-round rookie last summer. But there is no reason to believe Brissett will be cut or traded at this point. He will get more chances to take reps and evolve in the system this offseason. The future of Brady and Garoppolo is uncertain, but having a third quarterback in the mix remains valuable. Maybe Brissett can be Brady's backup if Garoppolo leaves in the next year or so. Or maybe he can be Garoppolo's backup if there is an earth-shaking change atop the depth chart. Either way, I'm interested to see where Brissett can go as a player after being thrown to the fire last September with almost no preparation to fall back on.
Is this Brady's last realistic shot for a Super Bowl? Edelman and Amendola are getting up in age and it's only a matter of time before his shoulder takes the final farewell thanks to Father Time.
I've given up predicting Brady's "last realistic shot" to win a Super Bowl. He has a very good chance to win this year. If he's back, he'll have a very good team capable of competing for a Super Bowl next year. He continues to evade Father Time and prove himself one of the elite passers in the game. There is no sign of that slowing down.
Hello, and as a fan thank you for the weekly analysis. What is your take on the Pats only selecting four players in the draft? I mean I recognize that our roster is one of the best, if not the best in the NFL right now, but I thought that depth in the LB, CB and maybe RB positions would be addressed. Then again, In Bill We Trust! Go Pats!
Certainly I was a little surprised the Patriots only selected a franchise-low four players in the draft. It's the fewest ever by a defending Super Bowl champion. Clearly some of that had to do with the opportunities that came up in trades this offseason. They also may not have felt as strongly about the talent in this draft as many so-called experts. I do know that even if the Patriots hadn't drafted a single player last weekend they would have been the favorite to win the Super Bowl. The four guys they selected may have a hard time making the roster and certainly will have to fight for any reps they get as rookies this fall. And having been around the Belichick-led Patriots for nearly two decades, nothing really shocks me anymore. It is what it is.
Why did the Patriots pass on Chris Godwin? He would have been better than Hogan and Amendola and probably better than Mitchell. I just don't get why we pass on players who are that good.
If you are so sure about things that no one can possibly be sure about, could you send me the numbers for the next big PowerBall jackpot? Thanks. Godwin was a good, solid, productive prospect. But he's far from a can't-miss star. He's a mid-round talent because that's where he was drafted. Maybe he'll be better than Hogan and Mitchell. Maybe he won't. But the Patriots didn't really have the room/need for a receiver at that point in the draft. And, as much as you may find this hard to believe, maybe they weren't in love with Godwin as much as you are. I look forward to those life-changing numbers you'll be sending me. Thanks.