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Ask PFW: Post-draft wrap

The draft is in the books and the fans are weighing in. Check out how Patriots Nation feels about the newest players and some of the lingering issues surrounding the team in this week's edition of "Ask PFW."  

Do you think Rob Gronkowski will turn out to be the next Jason Witten everyone is billing him out to be? Also would Alan Faneca be a good fit for the Pats.Timothy Suydan

I love the Gronkowski pick but I see him as a much more all around tight end than Whitten. Whitten is a tremendous receiver and [


]()has had a terrific career with the Cowboys. From what I've seen and read about Gronkowski he has a chance to be a tough blocker and a solid receiver. And I think he's more athletic than Whitten, drawing some comparisons to Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez in that regard. But comparing any rookie to an established star is never a wise thing to do. Hopefully Gronkowski will be a part of the Patriots offense and carve out his nice career of his own. As for Faneca, I'd say simply "no interest." He was ineffective last year in New York and was an unwise investment for the Jets at this stage of his career. He's not better than Logan Mankins or Stephen Neal so I wouldn't bother even looking into it.
Paul Perillo

Looking over the Pats draft board, I feel more confidence than ever in our coaching staff and management. With the only exception being the size of our top pick's height (I certainly don't question his ability, but didn't we need someone to combat the 6-4 and bigger receivers that our opposition bring?), I feel like BB hit on -- in order -- pretty much all of the team's needs from help in the secondary (first round) to maybe a backup for Brady and Hoyer (last pick). Nice work this weekend, Bill. You've definitely been doing your homework.
Mark Aiken

As if often the case at this time of year, Mark doesn't really ask a question but instead simply gives his opinion. I'd say that I, too, am satisfied with the work Belichick did over the weekend but would have one slight disagreement: the team didn't really address the pass rush. Jermaine Cunningham is an interesting prospect but I wouldn't expect him to step in immediately. It will likely take him some time to develop as he moves from defensive end to outside linebacker and therefore I'm still a bit concerned about the lack of pressure this defense created a year ago. But the draft itself was solid and I have no problems with Devin McCourty's height. Cornerback play is all about skill and technique as Ty Law, Asante Samuel, Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey have proven over time. I'm not saying McCourty will develop into one of those players, but height won't prevent him from succeeding.
Paul Perillo

**I see McCourty as a great special teamer who can also play a good cornerback and not a great corner who can play great special teams Now I'm wondering if that is the case, was it worth a first-round draft selection? Apparently Bill sees McCourty [


]()as a great corner and special teamer. My thoughts was Kyle Wilson is a better corner at this time than McCourty but that McCourty is a way better special teamer.*
*Stephen Smith

Well, if you are correct than McCourty will turn out to be a bad pick because as a rule you don't want to be taking special teams players who are just average at their position in the first round. If Wilson is the superior corner then he should have been the pick. I'm not sure Belichick saw it that way otherwise he wouldn't have coveted McCourty the way he did. Personally, from an admittedly limited viewpoint since I didn't see a whole lot of either player, I don't see much difference between the two. I feel both McCourty and Wilson will be solid corners who should help their teams right away, at least in subpackages. The special teams stuff is just an added bonus but in no way should have been the deciding factor for such a high pick. I doubt Belichick would pick an inferior corner based on his special teams ability.
Paul Perillo

Not one person picked whom the Patriots would draft in the first round. All the speculation and still no one knew whom they would pick.
Mark Gargano

Sorry Mark, but it isn't as easy as it looks. There are dozens of factors that go into the draft – from off-field issues to medical concerns to football intelligence and many more. The teams have the opportunity to sit down with the players and gather all of this information before deciding which players they want to take. The media doesn't get that chance and therefore a situation like what happened to Texas' Sergio Kindle can take place. Kindle may need microfracture surgery on his knee, a situation that was common knowledge among the 32 teams but only learned by the media on draft day. So figuring out exactly which direction a team in going in not a simple process, but we'll keep trying.
Paul Perillo

With it looking increasingly likely that the Raiders are going to cut JaMarcus Russell, is there any chance that the Patriots would take him on as a backup QB? He obviously showed some potential at one point to warrant being drafted No. 1 and if anyone could instill a work effort into him it's Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The Pats are very thin behind Brady and could do with another QB, would Russell be worth a minimum salary contract?
Sam Whelan

This post is proof that any player, regardless of ability, that is cut by another team will automatically become of interest to the Patriots. How could anyone who has watched Russell play with the Raiders even contemplate signing him? He was overrated coming out of LSU and he's been a major flop. I'll stick with Brian Hoyer, Jeff Rowe and Zac Robinson.
Paul Perillo

I heard a lot of complaining from you guys on draft day. I was equally disappointed with the Patriots trading down. I too wanted to see our defense get stronger, unlike you I am not sure we failed. It seemed to be you guys wanted to see the Patriots draft a pass rusher. My question is which draftee do you think we could have drafted and see start as outside linebacker in our system? Please make sure your selection was around at pick 22. My hopes are the Patriots did not see an OLB that would have started this year, and they are going to fill the void through a trade.
John Howard

Well, they aren't likely to fill any void through trade unless you're looking for someone else's scraps. In terms of the first round, I don't think your characterization of "PFW in Progress" was accurate. We all agreed that McCourty is a solid player but were curious about the decision to go with a cornerback in the first round. With Sergio Kindle out of the equation due to health concerns, I would have gone with Dan Williams, Jared Odrick or Brian Price and bolstered the defensive line. I also would have given Jerry Hughes some thought as a pass rusher. I think he has the tools to make the switch to outside linebacker, although I don't like him as much as Kindle. All three were available at 27 let alone 22. But honestly I didn't have a huge problem with the pick because I think McCourty will be a solid player. I just thought corner was reasonably set while linebacker and defensive end were lacking.
Paul Perillo

While I would love to say that the Pats had a great draft, I can't with a straight face. With obvious needs at LB, WR, DL, TE, DB and OL (in that order), the Pats pass on Dez Bryant, Sergio Kindle, Jerry Hughes and Kyle Wilson to draft Devin McCourty? At best he'll be a nickel back and special teams player. Is that "value" to waste a first-round pick who has no chance of making an immediate impact, especially when the Pats are in such need of a playmaker? Then, with their first pick in the second round they choose a TE who didn't even play in 2009 because of a serious back injury. If they were going to risk a second-round pick on a player coming off a serious injury, they would have been better off signing Leon Washington in the offseason. He would have been an upgrade in the return game and the successor to Kevin Faulk. Finally, with Alan Faneca having been released by the Jets, any chance the Pats pick him up? He'd be a tremendous upgrade over Stephen Neal.
Gary Goldstein

Other than Kindle and Hughes, I pretty much disagree with everything you wrote. No way I would have taken Dez Bryant in the first round. There's just too much risk there. I think he's got the talent but I'm not sure he has everything a player needs to go with it. McCourty is not a nickel back at best, as you put it. He may not crack the starting lineup immediately but he and Darius Butler figure to form a pretty formidable duo at corner in the future. Gronkowski had surgery to repair his back issues and that's why he didn't play in 2009. There's no reason to believe he won't be fully healthy heading into the 2010 season. His ability is obvious and he'll get every opportunity to start at tight end right from the start. Leon Washington was traded for a fifth-round pick and you wanted to give the Jets a second? That doesn't sound like good value to me. And the Faneca that played last season couldn't hold a candle to Neal. Other than that, I'm with you.
Paul Perillo

With question marks still at OLB despite drafting Jermaine Cunningham, any chance of moving Gary Guyton to the outside and use his athleticism at that position instead? Even with Tyrone McKenzie coming off an injured rookie year and Brandon Spikes being a rookie, I feel they are a better fit along side Jerod Mayo inside.Kyle Witkowski

I agree that Spikes and McKenzie are better fits inside next to Mayo and I think Belichick will have the potential to have his old "three for two" theory going with that trio. Back in the day the Patriots used to use a rotation of Ted Johnson, Tedy Bruschi and Roman Phifer at inside linebacker and Belichick could effectively choose his lineup based on matchups. I think the potential to do so exists once again with Mayo, McKenzie and Spikes – but there's a long way to go for the latter two. However, I don't think Guyton is big enough to hold up as an outside linebacker. Guyton is just 245 pounds, which is pretty light to set the edge against the run. He's fast enough to cover ground in coverage, though, and that's why I feel Belichick will use him in subpackages in the underneath zones. Guyton isn't a perfect fit as a 3-4 linebacker in either spot, but his athleticism, as you mentioned, is good enough to create a role for him.
Paul Perillo

Is Derrick Burgess still with the team? If not, do they plan to re-sign him?Cory R.

Burgess is a free agent and not currently with the team. During the owners meetings last month there were reports that a decision regarding his status would be forthcoming within a week. Several weeks have past since so it doesn't look like he'll be back, but Belichick often makes moves well into the offseason and perhaps could do so with Burgess. Personally I'd rather move on and go with some fresh faces.
Paul Perillo

**You've probably got a lot of questions about this but why wouldn't the Patriots trade Adalius Thomas? Teams probably didn't [


]()want him for a high price but don't you think the Pats should have traded him for something lower just because if he signs with the Jets, which I think he will, he'd be with Rex Ryan his old coordinator and we'd have to play him twice. What do you think? *Max Louis*

I'm sure the Patriots tried to trade him but couldn't. He would have been two more years at pretty big money and no team was going to take on that salary after his disappointing Patriots career. Once the draft came and went and the Patriots still couldn't trade him, Belichick decided it was time to cut ties. As for Thomas' next stop, I really don't care. I don't think he's a very good player at this stage so if the Jets or Dolphins (Miami defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was also Thomas' coordinator in Baltimore) sign him, so be it. I've never understood the theory of being afraid to play against a former player. If you are willingly letting a player leave, why worry about him playing against you? The Eagles let Donovan McNabb go to the Redskins in their division. If Andy Reid was worried about playing against him, I doubt he's have done it.
Paul Perillo

Given the significant free agent and draft moves made by the Jets and Dolphins, I think that it is imperative that the Pats make a splash by acquiring Osi Umenyiora. He would solve the need of a bona fide pass rusher, which was not adequately addressed during the draft. The Pats have several draft picks next year (two first and now two second-round choices) that they can use a combination of for Osi. Your thoughts?Mel Buford

No way I'm giving up any of those four picks for Osi at this point. He's spent seven years playing as a defensive end in a 4-3 and at 6-3, 260 I'm not sure he has the ability to move off the line as an outside linebacker. He's been a solid pass rusher during his time with the Giants but was benched last season for his lack of production. That's why he may be available in the first place. I'd be interested to kicking the tires and if Belichick felt there was a chance to use him, then I would be convinced. But on the surface I'm not sure Umenyiora fits perfectly in New England.
Paul Perillo

Guys, two questions, first, have the Pats ever drafted three players from the same school in the same draft before? Also, I know that a team cannot trade its compensatory draft picks, but are there any rules about trading the players that they pick? Do they have to keep them for a certain amount of time?
Dan Driban

I narrowed down your question a bit in order to deal with a more apples-to-apples comparison and only went back to 1994 when the draft was cut to its current seven-round format. For example, the Patriots chose three players from Boston College back in 1974 (guard Steve Corbett in the second, running back Phil Bennett in the 13th and defensive back Gary Hudson in the 17th) but there were 17 rounds back then. There have been several years when the Patriots drafted two players from the same school in the same draft since 1994 but never three. For example, they took two players from LSU in 2002 (Jarvis Green and Rohan Davey), two from Texas A&M in 2003 (Ty Warren, Bethel Johnson) and two from Miami in 2007 (Brandon Meriweather, Kareem Brown). Teams can trade players they own the rights to after the draft, as was the case a few years ago when the Giants and Chargers swapped quarterbacks Eli Manning and Philip Rivers after the players were picked. There's no difference between compensatory picks and regular picks in this regard. There are some elements that could make such deals complicated however. A team would really have to sign the player first because his rookie pool allocation would stay with the club that drafted him. A team that acquires him while he is still under his tender wouldn't have the rookie pool room to sign him – unless it is a tendered-player-for-tendered player trade like the Rivers-Manning I mentioned. But the simple answer to your question is yes, all drafted players are eligible to be traded.
Paul Perillo

After what I considered a disappointing first round I really liked the moves the Pats made in the second. Dan Gronkowski gives us a legitimate receiving threat but with Wes Welker likely to miss a number of games I can't help but think we're still going to be missing the No. 3 receiving option that we didn't have last year. Given that Golden Tate was available at 58 before we traded down do you think it was worth passing on him to pick up Brandon Spikes? I like the choice of Spikes but I can't help think Tate would have been the better choice.
Dan Parfitt

I like Tate and I thought there was a chance the Patriots would draft him. But they wound up taking Taylor Price in the third round and I believe he has a chance to play on the outside opposite Randy Moss. And Brandon Tate, last year's third-round pick, also falls into that category. I think Julian Edelman and Torry Holt can fill in for Welker at the slot position, so having Golden Tate may not be necessary. Of course this is dependent on the theory that either Brandon Tate or Price is able to fill a role immediately. Either way, I'd rather have Spikes to help a sagging defense than Golden Tate.
Paul Perillo

Before the draft, I reviewed our current depth chart at defensive line and found, beyond Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren, that there really wasn't much. Myron Pryor. Mike Wright. Damione Lewis. Yet, we did not draft a defensive lineman with any of our first six picks. I was very surprised, especially with Jared Odrick and others available. Why do you think DL went unaddressed early in the draft?Chris Noble

I thought Dan Williams or Odrick would have made a lot of sense. I'm not sure Williams could fill a role at end in a 3-4 but he has loads of ability and I would have liked to see Belichick work him into the mix. Odrick can play end in a 3-4 so that would have made sense. But Belichick obviously felt McCourty was a better player, and I believe he's very talented and will be part of the secondary in the future. Overall I agree that defensive line is a bigger need at this point, although they did sign Gerard Warren and perhaps Belichick felt that would be enough to fill the void in 2010.
Paul Perillo

It seems to me that fans are doing a lot of whining about all the big names we haven't signed. However, looking back at the Pats teams that won Super Bowls it was with character, smart, hardworking overachievers. It seems like that's what's happening again. Moss hasn't won us a championship and I don't think overpaid "stars" will either. Looking forward to more locker room guys again.
Dan Fiske

So Tom Brady, Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Asante Samuel, Ted Johnson, Rodney Harrison, Corey Dillon, Lawyer Milloy, Deion Branch, David Givens and countless others weren't stars? The problem isn't with guys like Moss; it's the fact that there aren't enough guys like Moss. Among the list mentioned above, only Brady remains. That's a long list of quality players that are no longer here, and in most cases they've been replaced by inferior players – not higher paid ones. Having a strong locker room helps but having quality players is far more important. The Patriots have not been talented enough the past two years and hopefully the cupboard can be replenished with a couple quality drafts. That's where most of the above players came from and that's how the Patriots will get back to the top.
Paul Perillo

Aren't net and gross punting stats less important than average starting field position? A high average, to me, just means your offense can't move the ball. If you're always punting from the 50, of course your average will be low.
Pascal Rawls-Phillippe

That's not really accurate. Obviously field position is important in every game but to say the punters with the lowest gross averages have poor stats because of the offense is short-sighted. To use your example, if you're always punting from the 50 then the opponent should be starting a lot of drives from inside their 10. If that's the case, the punter would have a solid 40-plus-yard average. And no matter how good a team's offense is, there are times when the punter needs to flip field position from deep in his own end. Chris Hanson did not do a good job of this and that's one reason the Patriots drafted punter Zoltna Mesko in the fifth round.
Paul Perillo

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