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Ask PFW: Pre-draft labor limbo

I hope the allegations that Meriweather was the shooter in Florida are untrue - if true, that would screw up my mock draft! Here's my draft hopes: #17 and Meriweather to Dallas at #9 and then pick Quinn. #28: Best available OT (Carimi, Castonzo, Sherrod). Trade #33 down to around #40-43 and get a 2012 2nd Rd in return (I know that does not jive with the trade value chart but I think there will be a lot of suitors for that pick and someone will greatly overpay for it). At #40-43: Dowling (assuming Harris and Wilkerson are gone). #60: Titus Young. Trade # 74 for another 2012 2nd rd and at #92 take the best available Safety or OG. Rip away!
Tim C.

Before we start ripping, we have to address the technical problem with your scenario. During this lockout, trades of veteran players are not allowed. But if they were, I wouldn't mind your deal with Dallas. I've never been a huge Meriweather guy, and using him to move into the top 10 with an eye on Robert Quinn would be a very nice value in my opinion. Legal issues or not, though, I'm not sure Meriweather has that much value around the league right now. In fact I'm pretty sure he doesn't. I have no problem taking a tackle at 28. Nor can I quibble about putting that valuable 33rd pick, the first of the second day of the draft, up for trade offers. I'd be very much open to that. Not as in love with the Dowling pick, as I don't place a huge value on the cornerback need right now. I might be looking to add a wide receiver or running back at that point, or even a second offensive lineman or pass rusher.
Andy Hart

I agree with you guys 100% that the Pats top needs are pass rushing OLB and OL. But after watching Ingram and Hankerson at the Combine I think these guys are absolute beasts that could be real game changers for us offensively. My question is would you rather see a draft that went something along the lines of Akeem Ayers at 17, Mike Pouncey at 28, Derrek Sherod at #33 and Sam Acho at #60. Or Mark Ingram at 17, Justin Houston at 28, Stefan Wisniewski at #33 and Leonard Hankerson at #60. Thanks guys.
Mike Anderson

I'll be honest. I don't care for either of your drafts. The first doesn't really address the need for an impact pass rusher, as I don't think Ayers is in that category. To me, he seems more like a well rounded linebacker than a pass rush specialist. I think the Patriots needs a pass rush artist, and if that guy can do some of the other things that's almost gravy. As for your second scenario, I'm not sold on Ingram being an elite NFL runner. I think he'll probably have a solid pro career but don't see him as a perennial 1,200-plus yard guy. I'd rather wait to take a chance on a running back in the second or third round. I'm also not sold on Houston or his pass rush ability. I do like Hankerson, though, and would like to see him in New England at some point in the draft and he might be a real steal as a receiver at pick 60. But as a total package, I don't like either of your draft rundowns.
Andy Hart

Hey PFW, lend me your ears, I know Paul doesn't feel that DE is a big need but if we sit tight at the draft position we are in, we won't see a quality OLB, just a projected OLB like Ryan Kerrigan or someone too small to set the edge like Justin Houston. #17- J.J. Watt- 21 tackles for loss in 2010. #28- Cameron Heyward, like Watt is 6-5 290lbs #33- Aaron Williams- Behind OLB & DE, corner is the biggest need on D. #60- Stefen Wisniewski to step in at right guard #74- Brooks Reed #92- Austin Pettis or Cecil Shorts I'm also in favor of drafting both Noel Devine & Roy Helu Jr in the late rounds. Helu (6ft 220, 4.4 40 yard dash) can step in and fill the Sammy Morris role as a FB/RB/Special Teamer plus he can catch out of the backfield. Devine can give the Pats a legitimate homerun threat from RB/Slot/KR/PR.
Nick Wilds

I love this point of year when fans offer up Wilds draft scenarios. They are fun to break down. Nick, I hate yours. You end up with two 5-technique DE types, a cornerback I have doubts about, a pretty good interior line option and then a developmental edge guy. I wouldn't feel too much better about the team, or the defense, in this scenario. My favorite pick in your mock might be Pettis. I'm intrigued by his size and skills. The rest of it leaves me less than thrilled. I'm with Paul, I'm not on the defensive end bandwagon. I'll go to play with Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, Gerard Warren (maybe) and Marcus Stroud surrounded by a few other young developing bodies. I don't have any faith in the depth chart at outside linebacker at this point and their ability to get pressure on the quarterback. Your draft doesn't do much to address that, in my opinion, fatal flaw on this team.
Andy Hart

Hi, I appreciate all of your Patriots coverage but I don't understand why you guys are so high on Robert Quinn, he is a pure pass rusher who I don't think can handle all the responsibilities (such as dropping into coverage)of an OLB in Bill's System. My draft board for the patriots (only including players likely to be available in our range) would go like this: Von Miller- A great OLB who can do it all. Mark Ingram- Underrated because of his lack of speed I expect him to be an annual pro-bowler. JJ Watt- A difference maker at DE that would give us a deep and powerful rotation. Julio Jones- Even though I don't generally like taking a WR in the first round this guy is a beast. What do you think of these players? Why do so many people compare A.J. Green to Randy Moss even though he is much slower(he runs a 4.5 compared to Moss' 4.26) and can't jump nearly as high (greens vertical is 34.5" Randy's is 51")?
Garrett Raymond

First, most of the guys you list may not be anywhere near available at No. 17. There is talk that Miller could be a top-five pick. Watt and Jones are rising talents who may end up in the top 10. Ingram will probably be an option, but as I said in the previous answer I don't think he's an elite NFL runner. I do like A.J. Green. I think he has the overall big-play, game-changing ability to be a start in the NFL. He may not have Moss' pure speed or all-around package of skills, but he's still pretty impressive. And it's no shame to not exactly measure up to Moss, who many feel is the most physically gifted receiver to ever play the game. So even if Green is only as good as, say, Andre Johnson, would you take that? I would. And stop trying to rain on my Quinn parade. I think he's the perfect pick for the Patriots and I'm sticking with it.
Andy Hart

I think that you should pick Mark Ingram due to your desperate need for a running game. That should be your first pick. Your next one should either be a defender, maybe a safety or end, or Cam Newton. Let's face it: Brady will be done soon and if he leaves, most likely Branch, and maybe Welker will leave too. So, if we draft a good QB like Newton and teach him to take snaps under center, they will stay.
Tim Fantatic

I thought it would be hard to find a draft I liked less than Nick's from a couple posts back, but this one does the trick. I don't think Ingram is a franchise back. Safety may be the deepest spot on this team and I have no interest in developing Newton to replace Brady. I don't think he could play in the Patriots offense. It would require a complete system overhaul. No offense, but I hate this draft projection. Hate it. And Brady is under contract for at least four more years, which is longer than either Welker or Branch.
Andy Hart

I know this may not be a popular idea but what if we traded Logan Mankins and a 3rd or 4th round pick to get us into the top 10 and then we'd still have our two first round picks and we'd be able to get a great player like Von Miller or Robert Quinn. Then we could us the 17th, 28th and 33rd to get O-lineman and more. I know he's the perfect lineman but him and his agent are clearly not happy in New England and won't want to stay next year. So why not get something BIG out of him as opposed to nothing.
Jacob Mattson

I like Mankins as much as anyone, and hope to see him in a Patriots uniform moving forward. But if that's not a realistic possibility, then I like your trade idea. Giving Bill Belichick four of the first 33 picks, I'm guessing he could hit the jackpot on at least two of the players and fill out two of the team's biggest needs, while using the other picks to find solid talent even if they don't end up as All Pros. Four starting-caliber players – which is what Belichick usually gets in the first round – would be a nice addition to the roster, especially if one was an elite OLB prospect like Quinn.
Andy Hart

If you had to pick one player at 28 from Pouncey, Houston, or Castonzo WHO would you pick ? GO PATS!
Larry Hendricken

Right now I'd lean toward the two offensive linemen, and probably go with Pouncey. Depending on Mankins' future, the interior line could be a bigger need than at tackle. That said, I haven't done all my work breaking down the offensive line prospects and retain the right to change my opinion. Hey, all the other so-called draft experts do it. Pro Football Weekly had Robert Quinn as a second-round pick in their mock last month, but they've moved him up to 12th in their latest version. Quite a jump. Maybe they've been reading my Quinn love stories here on Patriots.com.
Andy Hart

Who would you take if you had to choose Watt or Jordan at 17 ?
Larry Hendricken

Larry gets back-to-back questions. He keeps them short and simple. I'd go with Jordan because I think he might have a bit more versatility, more experience and is a better all-around athlete. I'm not yet sold on Watt, but the rest of the world seems to be.
Andy Hart

Hey guys great work, I look forward to the column every Tuesday. My Question is last year the Chargers traded the 28th and 40th picks to the Dolphins for the 11th pick. Even though Miami lost out on about 75 points on the trade value chart they made the trade and did quite will with the two picks. Do you possibly see a team picking in the 8-12 rang that would be willing to accept the Pats 28th, 60th and 74th picks allowing them then to select Robert Quinn?
Andrew Corbett

As you mention, your three picks add up to 1,180 points on the trade value chart. That leaves you just shy of the 1,200 points in value of the 12th overall pick. But getting past all the points, I'd think the Redskins might be the most willing to trade. While their previous M.O. was to go after star players, I think of the three teams in that area – the Texans and Vikings are at 11 and 12 – Washington needs to add the most depth of talent. I think there is more overall talent in Houston and Minnesota, so those teams might be focused on getting fewer impact players. I think Mike Shanahan, though, should be looking to overhaul his roster and would add picks in the scenario you suggest. That said, I'm not sure he would take a trade that's seemingly a little bit lopsided on paper.
Andy Hart

I know all about the Jimmy Johnson Trade Value Chart but I was wondering about what value teams put on draft picks in upcoming years. For example, what is the #33 pick in this year's draft worth in the 2012 draft? In this year it is worth 580 points. And, when teams trade for future years draft picks, do they assume that it will be a mid round pick for trade purposes?
Tim C.

Though this is more observation that a known fact, it seems that most teams go up a round in trades for future years' picks. So second this year is a first next year. A third is a second. You get the picture. But I think it varies by team and by where the more recent pick is located in a round as the current draft is actually unfolding. So, I'm not sure you could trade the final selection in this year's second round for a first-round pick a year later. That's a tough sell.
Andy Hart

Fred, what the hell gives? You send Andy & Erik to the Combine and then Paul goes on Patriots All Access to discuss the draft?
Tony Madeira

That's a great point/question. I guess it just comes down to the fact that for years Paul has been the face/mouthpiece of PFW, while Erik and I are the brains, brawn and work-ethic behind the operation. You'll get used to it. We have.
Andy Hart

Isn't there a pretty wide consensus that RBs are a dime a dozen. So why, unless you're getting AP or Barry Sanders, take an RB in the first round? In other words, if he's not a top-7 caliber player, wait till day 2?
Pascal Rawls-Philippe

First, a pet peeve I must get something off my chest. Adrian Peterson's nickname is AD, not AP. It's not his initials, it's an abbreviation for All Day. As in, he can run the ball all day. Thanks for letting me vent. Beyond that, I would kind of agree with you. If you think a guy can be an elite running back – meaning a guy who should roll out of bed and get 1,000 yards and a possibility to get 1,500-plus any season – then you take him in the first round. Otherwise, you wait. It's why I would never have drafted guys like Donald Brown or Joseph Addai in the first round, to name just a couple examples. But I would have taken DeAngelo Williams or C.J. Spiller, because I thought both had the chance to be truly special players. It's an individual decision each team must make. But no team would ever complain about having AD, regardless of where he was drafted.
Andy Hart

Quinn for 17 and 60 (move up to 11-ish) or another OLB at 17?
Pascal Rawls-Philippe

Another email double-dip, this time for our pal Pascal. He, I'm a poet and didn't even know it! This question is a layup for me since it involves Quinny. I'll take the trade to get Quinny any day, and twice on a Thursday night in late April.
Andy Hart

Do you think Aldon Smith DE could play OLB in the Pats 3-4 defense? Looks to have all the size/weight ratios that BB has been looking for and is explosive athlete. I keep seeing him mentioned as strictly a DE though.BJ Nault

I do think Smith is worth keeping an eye on as a potential 3-4 OLB, even in New England. In fact NFLN's Michael Lombardi, who worked in Belichick's personnel department with the Browns in the early 1990s, mentioned Smith as a guy the Patriots might be interested in. Smith is young, having only two seasons of college football under his belt. He missed time to a broken leg last season, which limited his production. But he's got the size – 6-4, 260 – and speedy athleticism to be an OLB conversion consideration. After Quinn, he's probably be my next favorite choice to see in New England on draft night. Both players are probably more potential than finished products as this point, but both could have very good careers if they hit their upsides.
Andy Hart

Hey PFW. Do you foresee a changing of the guard at the RB position in 2011? It is quite possible that Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, and Fred Taylor could all be done with the Pats. That would leave BGE and Danny Woodhead as the only viable options. Do you see the Pats addressing the need in the draft? If so, who are the options in later rounds -- say rounds 3-6? It doesn't look like the RB class is very strong this year. Thanks.
Bob Malloy

Clearly there is a bit of a transition going on in the backfield. Taylor and Morris are both free agents and don't seem likely to return. Taylor sounded like he was retiring and Morris' playing time and production fell off last fall. Faulk may or may not be back, but won't be the focal piece he once was. For all those reasons I do think the Patriots will take long look at the running backs this April. I think they could look at the position as high as the second round, although I'm not high on them going after a runner in the first round as I'm not sold that Ingram is elite. But there is some interesting talent bunched up in the second, third and fourth rounds. I am interested in Kansas State's Daniel Thomas. I'm also biased toward UConn's Jordan Todman as he went to my high school. Regardless, I'll be stunned if the Patriots don't take a running back in the draft, and surprised if it doesn't come in the first three rounds. Then I would think the team would also try to fill out the backfield through free agency, whenever that comes.
Andy Hart

Hi Guys! Thanks for all the insights and perspectives. You do a great job helping fans from even as far away as Hungary to follow what's happening between two games (or in the off-season, for the matter). I'm wondering whether the looming lockout should force a different drafting strategy on the Pats. BB always emphasizes the role of off-season preparation. Cutting and/or curtailing a large part of the off-season team activities should hit rookies especially hard. What are the chances that, without being schooled thoroughly in the system, a 3rd or later round pick would contribute to the team as much as even a mediocre veteran could? But then, there is no reason to draft anyone who is not fully "NFL-ready". Would you agree that the Pats should bundle their picks and go up as high as needed to acquire one or two players, who could be plugged in instantly, then trade their remaining picks for picks in next year's draft? Fortunately, beyond the pass rush and, possibly, the O-line, there are no glaring needs for the Pats right now. The catch is that other teams may choose the same strategy … I'd be interested to read your thoughts on this issue. István Winkler P.s.: In case it is Andy Hart's turn, my first name is pronounced as "eeshtvan". He can try to poke some fun at it.
Istvan Winkler

So I'm assuming they call you the Fonz? Do you actually drive a van? Winkler, I don't even know her! Now, on to your question. There is little doubt that an extended lockout will cause issues for teams trying prepare for next season, whenever that season comes. It will clearly hurt rookies as they try to learn the schemes on both sides of the ball. But I also think it could hurt veterans that join the team through free agency, if/when we get a free agency period. We've seen proven vets struggled to learn their role in New England – receivers like Joey Galloway and Donald Hayes come to mind – just as much as a rookie would struggle, as with Taylor Price last season. Limiting the time and guidance that new players get learning the system isn't good for anyone. It hurts the players' chances to help the team and, in the end, could result in a lower level of product at whatever point football does return. But it's the reality of the situation right now, the only hope at this point is that the lockout and labor dispute get resolved sooner rather than later.
Andy Hart

Pats fans, we all know that the draft will not end the way you think. Unless, the guy they covet is there at 17 it will be traded. That pick they get 19, 20 ,23 whatever will also be traded. Remember, last draft when they kept trading down, they knew all along they wanted the "stud" McCourty...So whatever the Patriots org. plans are they are for more football savvy than we will ever be ........so in "Bill" and staff we trust!!!!!!! Remember, he changed our culture and for that I TRUST!!!!!!!!! He has a plan!
Don Alderson

This is what I refer to as a wet blanket email. It takes all the fun out of the pre-draft, pre-free agency process. Every party needs a pooper, that's why we invited Don. Party pooper, party pooper!
Andy Hart

What about trading Welker to the Bengals for 1st round pick and take Miller or Quinn with that pick, and in 17 taking Julio Jones ,and in 28 taking an OL and in 33: Sam Acho or Bailey. Thanx
Genaro Abdala

First, trades of veteran players aren't allowed at this point in the lockout process. But let's pretend they were. Do you really think the Bengals would trade a first-round pick, never mind the fourth overall pick in the draft, for Welker? Sure he's been more productive than any receiver in the game over his four years in New England. But he had a down year last season coming back from a major knee injury. He doesn't have a contract beyond this coming season. And there are some who doubt his value as a true No. 1 receiver. Now, maybe he'd work well with Chad Ochocinco in Cincinnati, assuming he remains with the team. I don't think too many teams would trade a top-5 pick for a 30-year-old slot receiver (which Welker will be May 1). Sorry to pooh, pooh your idea on multiple levels. I'm also not in love with Acho. He's a solid player, but again, I'm not sure he's an elite pass rusher. That's what I'm hoping the Patriots get early in the process this April.
Andy Hart

All the predictions are reasonable, except that the Patriots will take a wide receiver in the first round. I think that, based on past experience, it is very unlikely the Patriots will use both picks in the first round. Rather, they will trade one, and probably the first of the two, for additional picks this year and next. I would not be surprised to see them trade for another second-round pick this year, a second-round pick next year, and a third-rounder in 2013. I, and most other Patriots fans, will be disappointed, but the Patriots will continue to manage their salary cap this way to guarantee continuing success.
Bob Lyman

And I will continue to complain about it as the team will probably continue to lack elite playmakers. My general belief is that the further you get from the top of the draft, the harder it is to land truly elite playmakers. My general belief on the Patriots is that they've lacked elite playmakers in recent years, especially on defense. You know what I think you get with a bunch of second-round picks? A bunch of second-round talent. As such if the team is looking to trade in this year's draft I would hope it would be with the intention of moving up and adding some elite talent, hopefully in the pass rush, that could help the team get over its recent postseason slump. New England has drafted 24 players over the last two years and has another nine picks (before compensatory selections) this fall. Now I think it needs to be more about drafting quality than quantity.
Andy Hart

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