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Ask PFW: Post-holiday weekend

Fans' questions are answered in this week's PFW mailbag.


Hi from London & kudos to PFW for the great coverage during the off-season! Wish the football season lasted longer! Anyway, what does the lack of reinforcement at the Tight End position mean to the Patriots' offense? Are we about to see an evolution in the Patriots offense next year? Thanks & looking forward to the games in London!*
*Cedric Duwat

Don't expect New England's offense to look much different this year, Cedric. Even though the team didn't draft a young tight end, that doesn't mean they're neglecting the position. They've added a big (6-8) undrafted rookie and will likely add another veteran (Dustin Keller?) before too long. This offense has become tight-end-centric, thanks to Rob Gronkowski. You might even surmise that because the Patriots didn't target one in the draft, Gronk is where they hope he should be in his rehabilitation, which would reduce the need for reinforcing the position. But even if you don't make that leap, it's safe to say that the tight end role will remain an important one for this Patriots attack in 2014.
Erik Scalavino

Thanks for doing a great job at answering many questions on here. Big Patriots fan from out here in California. Who do you think will be the starting corner on the right side of [Darrelle] Revis? How do you think [rookie DL Dominique] Easley will do with the Patriots?
Jorge Ornelas


Well, in Week 1, I can tell you definitely who will NOT be starting opposite Revis – Brandon Browner. He'll be serving a one-month suspension by the league and won't be eligible to play until at least October 5. However, based entirely on the contract he was given, Browner makes the most sense to me as the eventual starting right cornerback. He'll have to prove himself, of course, once training camp arrives (he WILL be eligible to take part in all preseason activities before serving his regular season suspension).

Easley, meanwhile, needs to get healthy. He's not quite at 100 percent after blowing out his right knee last fall. How he'll do once he gets back to full strength is impossible to say. Sadly, the Patriots have too many such cases of guys coming off injuries along the d-line to be certain of anything when it comes to that position this year.
Erik Scalavino

The Patriots have been mentioned as trade partner for Eagles DE Brandon Graham. Why not trade a mid-round pick in next year's draft for Graham, then trade [backup QB Ryan] Mallett to Dallas or Houston for a mid-round pick next year! It's a win-win for New England! Lining up Chandler Jones on one side of the line and Graham on the other side [and] rotating [Rob] Ninkovich, with [DT Vince] Wilfork, [Tommy] Kelly, and Easley in the middle!
Mark Silveira

I'd take Graham if he became available, but I'm not clamoring to trade for him, either. He doesn't exactly come to mind when I think of a significant pass rush upgrade. That ship has long since sailed. Nor would I want to trade Mallett just to get a mid-round draft choice. I don't think Mallett's going anywhere this year. The Patriots will keep three QBs and it will be up to Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo to decide who gets the honor of being Brady's immediate understudy.
Erik Scalavino

Do you think that the reason the Pats drafted the way they did was the fact that most of the "starting caliber" safeties and tight ends went really early in the draft, much earlier than expected? Like [C.J.] Fiedorowicz, who was a late third to fifth round prospect (projected) who went at the beginning of the third. [Deone] Bucannon went in the first where most thought he was a second-round prospect. Could this have influenced Bill [Belichick], where he just kind of said there are no starters or players he really liked and decided to beef up the o-line to protect the most important player on the team? If that is the case, then do you expect the Pats to sign a TE like [Jermichael] Finley or [Dustin] Keller, or do you think BB thought it wasn't an issue? As for safety do you think that [Duron] Harmon will cut? I think that Revis and Browner could help mask that whole. Is will Smith healthy? If he is I think he could really help the team pass rush issue.
Bear Allen

You really came loaded for "bear," huh? No one knows why Belichick drafts the way he does, other than to say that he does whatever he wants, regardless of what conventional wisdom tells him. Your theory is just as good as any other, Bear. I do, however, think another veteran tight end will join this team (my money is on Keller) sooner or later. At safety, Harmon is your penciled-in starter along with Devin McCourty at the moment. Almost nothing would surprise me when it comes to BB's decision-making, but I would be taken aback if Harmon is altogether cut this year. As for Smith, we've not yet had a chance to watch a Patriots practice in 2014. Our first opportunity is this Friday. At that time, we'll know better just how healthy Smith is.
*Erik Scalavino

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