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Ask PFW: Pre-Draft Speculation

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

People have mentioned taking a guard at #32 or #64 (Cann, Jackson, Tomlinson, Marpet, Matias), but what would happen if left tackles Humphries, Peat or Fisher fell to them at #32. Do you think the Patriots would pull the trigger and draft one of them over a guard, cornerback or D-lineman at #32? [LT Nate] Solder's contract is coming up soon and one of those guys could play guard for one year then maybe shift to left tackle to replace Solder in 2016. Also if Ogbuehi was to fall to #64, do you think the Pats would grab him and play him at guard (if injury is healed) then move him in the future to left tackle. Thanks. Thomas Noga

It is certainly possible that New England could draft an offensive lineman in the upper rounds, but more likely at 64 (in the second round) than 32, simply because the needs are greater on defense. In your scenario, even if a highly-touted tackle were to slip to the end of the first round, it would not make sense for the Patriots to select him.

For starters, Solder is unfairly maligned for being an inadequate left tackle, by you and other critics. He's not. Not by a long shot. He's more than capable, and what's more, the Patriots coaching staff feels the same way. Their opinion is what matters most. Solder isn't going anywhere.

Secondly, your assumption than any old offensive lineman can be plugged into another position on the line is fallacious. Sure, there are some athletes who can play all five o-line positions, but most cannot, either because of skill or size or what have you. A premier tackle is not necessarily capable of switching to guard and performing at the same level.

Bottom line here is that the Patriots are set at both left and right tackle spots with Solder and Sebastian Vollmer. No matter who's available at the end of the first round this year, o-line should not be the selection for New England.  Erik Scalavino

Huge pats fan here. Do you believe we will see a CB drafted in hopes of replacing the void of [Darrelle] Revis and [Brandon] Browner?

Zachary Cahill*

Now this is a much more likely possibility. Corner and defensive line are New England's two most critical needs going into this draft. I'd hope one of the top-flight corners falls to 32, but given the Patriots' inability to draft quality corners high in recent years, I'd be leery of any player they select at that position. Yet, I'd still welcome it because it would at least be addressing a legitimate need. Erik Scalavino

Do you think there is any way possible to trade up for DT Danny Shelton? Maybe our first, third-round (96th) pick and our fourth-round (131st) pick. Do you think that would be enough to move up to get him? Thanks.

Tony Flynn*

Anything's possible, Tony, especially where Bill Belichick is concerned. Shelton is definitely a player at a position worth trading up – within reason – to select. As far as what it would cost to move up, that obviously depends on high how and with which trade partner you're dealing. It's fruitless to speculate, therefore, on what the compensation might be. Besides, if history is our guide, if Bill decides to trade during the first round, it will be in the opposite direction. So, don't get your hopes up. Erik Scalavino

I'm cheering on the Patriots from the Great White North (aka Canada). I am wondering if since [Shane] Vereen left, we need a pass-catching RB. Will newly-acquired RB [Travaris] Cadet be the guy? Or will they draft a pass-catcher like David Johnson or Ameer Abdullah? Thanks.

Jordi Kokkinakis*

The Patriots clearly like to have a back who can perform that receiver-out-of-the-backfield role, like Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, and Vereen have done most recently. Whether that's Cadet or someone else remains to be seen. Aside from a handful of plays in joint practices with the Saints and against New Orleans in the regular season a couple years back, I've seen very little of Cadet on the field and none of him as yet in a Patriots uniform. Until I do, it would be irresponsible to venture a guess as to what his role will be in New England. Given his statistical history, he was utilized as a receiver more than a ball carrier by New Orleans, but how New England plans to deploy him is something I'm anxious to see come OTAs, mini-camp, and training camp/preseason. Erik Scalavino

What's the update with Alfonzo Dennard? I think he's the forgotten starter for the Patriots. I thought he showed flashes of being a starting corner and hopefully will line-up across from [Malcolm] Butler with [Kyle] Arrington in the slot. The majority are saying CB is Patriots' greatest need but with Logan Ryan a solid CB4, I hope Patriots go O-line and D-line early in the draft. There is nothing more depressing than seeing the pocket collapse on [Tom] Brady! Also, the Patriots have a terrible record of drafting CB early. Dallas showed last year that an awesome o-line can make up for a suspect D. We'll have more playmakers on our D than they did so draft a plug-a-play guard/center please, Patriots!

Martin Higgins*

There's no update at the moment on Dennard. He was a forgotten man last year, you're right, after losing reps in training camp to then-rookie Butler, being inactive for much of the regular season on game days, and winding up on IR late in the year. Ironically, what was bad news for the Patriots – losing Revis and Browner via free agency – could end up giving Dennard another opportunity to shine. He's certainly more likely to make the team now than he would have been if Revis and Browner were still here. And yes, he showed promise early in his career, so, perhaps all hope is not yet lost for him to resurrect his role with the team. Erik Scalavino

Would trading for Adrian Peterson around the draft be a good idea for the Patriots? He will have to restructure his deal but I think it would be a good fit.

Zach Flowers*

No. It would not be a good idea and Peterson would not be a "good fit" in this organization. Owner Robert Kraft made it unequivocally clear last year, in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, that a player such as Rice – talent on the field though he might be – would never, ever suit up for New England because of the reprehensible behavior he exhibited off the field. Peterson falls in that same category. Erik Scalavino

Hi from Paris! And thanks for the entertaining offseason. I have a feeling we're going to draft Denzel Perryman. Forget the drills, the man is a beast in the middle, he makes every tackle count. What's your thought?

William Lefevre*

Bonjour, mon ami! Trying to predict whom Bill Belichick will draft is a frustrating exercise. Perryman is a little on the small side for his position, but that hasn't stopped Belichick from taking a player before. I have no idea what Belichick thinks of Perryman, but you're right, he does possess a ferocity on the field that is hard to teach. Erik Scalavino

I am from Hungary. Here, the Patriots are by far the most popular team. Is there any chance one or two players visit us in the middle of Europe? Also, do not be nervous because of the departures of Revis, Browner, [DT] Vince Wilfork, and [RB Stevan] Ridley! This gives the chance for young talents to show themselves. I am sure there are more players who we (fans) do not know, but will be Hall of Famers.

Gábor Kakuszi*

Jó nap! I was actually in your great country last year and had a wonderful time. I saw first-hand just how strong the Patriots fan presence is in Hungary. Met a local trio of Patriots fans in Budapest, in fact, and they recounted how they attended an event in the city hosted by former Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko. There are a few players on the current roster who enjoy traveling, though not many usually venture outside the U.S., I'm afraid. However, I would certainly encourage them to do so. Hungary is a fantastic place to visit.

As for your second point, there is always the next-man-up mentality around here, but it's difficult to deny that the losses of Revis, Browner, and Wilfork are significant. I'm not quite as confident as you that there are any future Hall of Famers on the depth chart behind them, but I'll be happy to admit if I'm proven wrong. Erik Scalavino


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