Hey guys, I feel like over the last two weeks, we went from having no receiving corps to having way too many receivers. Who do you think will be a lock to make the final roster? And how do you feel about T.J. Moe and his chances? Thanks!
Allow me to allay your fears, Andrew. The Patriots don't have "way too many" receivers What they have is a typical number for this time of year. Some of them are what we in the business like to call "camp bodies" – players who need to be in mini- and training camp to fill out the 90-man roster. But, you never know, one or two of them might surprise enough to make the final cut, either on the 53 or the practice squad. That's what competition is for, after all.
They certainly don't have an abundance of talent at receiver, that's for sure, which is why there are so few "locks" to make this roster. At this point, the only ones I can figure are Welker replacement Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson, the second of this year's second-round picks. All other jobs are up for grabs, if you'll pardon the unintentional pun. We were only permitted to watch stretching at rookie mini-camp, so, I have no idea what Moe is capable of at this level. However, at this stage, he stands just as good a shot as anyone at that position.
By my count, the Patriots have, on the current roster, 14 players who can play either DE or OLB, in certain sets: C. Jones, J. Cunningham, J. Bequette, M. Benard, M. Buchanan, J. Francis, R. Ninkovich, J. Vega, J. Collins, S. Beauharnais, D. Fletcher, D. Hightower, N. Koutouvides, and M. Rivera. Did I miss anybody? I would expect that they'll keep no more than 9 on the 53-man roster with those position designations. Which of them would you currently expect to make that 53-man roster?
Your count is a little off, my friend. Right off the bat, you can eliminate Fletcher, Rivera, Hightower, Koutouvides, Beauharnais, and probably Francis, too. The first two are strictly inside linebackers. Hightower, Koutouvides, and Beauharnais are linebackers who can move inside or out, while Francis is purely a defensive end.
So, that narrows down the field quite a bit. Of the remaining names you mentioned, only Jones, Ninkovich, and Collins are guaranteed, in my estimation, to be here come September. Like the wide receivers I talked about above, there's plenty of competition for the remaining jobs at that edge rush position.
Do you think that the Patriots will sign John Abraham? I was really hoping that they would have signed him by now. I think it would be a smart thing to do considering he is a veteran and the fact the Rob Ninkovich will be a free agent after this season. Please sign him!
Do you think the Pats will add a veteran DE like John Abraham or Dwight Freeney?
I certainly hope so. New England could use another proven veteran to add talent and depth at the edge rush position. I would prefer Abraham, but I'd take Freeney if he were the only remaining option.
I understand that the Pats just recently signed Ben Bartholomew for fullback, but if things don't work out with him, what are the chances of Daniel Fells or Michael Hoomanawanui becoming the Pats fullback? Thanks!
Pretty good, Noah, seeing how the Patriots rarely employ a traditional fullback anymore. That backfield blocking gig typically falls to an H-back type nowadays, like the guys you mentioned or Aaron Hernandez. I wouldn't get too attached to Bartholomew, if I were you.
How do the Patriots look injury wise from last season? Have you heard anything new on [Rob] Gronkowski's arm? Do you think Stevan Ridley has any effects left from his concussion?*
The only news I've heard about Gronk was discouraging, and that was several weeks ago (reports that he might need further surgical procedures on his infected left forearm). Ridley, though, was here just last week and told us he's not feeling any ill effects from that concussive hit he took from Bernard Pollard in the AFC Championship Game.
I love your work and am interested in whether you think the Patriots have upgraded their secondary. Will the draft provide any more talent?
What do you think the starting secondary will look like this year with the new Rutgers defensive backs?
Well, they've added to the secondary, via free agency and the draft, but just how much better that will make them remains to be seen. I'm hopeful that veteran Adrian Wilson, a multi-time Pro Bowler and huge physical presence, can help improve the deep and over-the-middle coverage. But as I see it today, the secondary will look nearly identical to last season: Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard starting at left and right corner, respectively, with Devin McCourty and either the aforementioned Wilson or Steve Gregory at safety.
If that's the case, then having a returning unit with more experience working together (and hopefully healthier, if Dennard and Talib can stay on the field for a full season) could help them improve a little. I'm not expecting miracles from the Rutgers trio of draft picks Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon, plus free agent Brandon Jones. I'm not convinced that any of them, other than maybe Ryan, will even make the team. So, be prepared for more of the same from last season back there in the secondary.
Do you think the Pats are going to have a better D this year after getting a lot of help in the draft and free agency?
They have the potential to be a bit better, yes. There are significant qualifiers, though, that need to be realized. First, starters Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower need to see that so-called "year-two jump" that Bill Belichick says is so important for players at their age. If they can make that big leap, the front seven should be more threatening to opposing offenses. If free agent Adrian Wilson, whom I mentioned already, can bring some of his former Pro Bowl skills to Foxborough, that will be a bonus, too. If rookie Jamie Collins can contribute right away, or if a veteran free agent like Abraham or Freeney come aboard, that would make a big difference as well.
If any or all of those scenarios comes to pass, then New England should be more formidable on defense. That might be asking a bit too much, however.
Excuse my ignorance, but what is a "pass defensed" for a defensive back?
No need to apologize, Jeffrey. That's what Ask PFW is for! A pass defensed is a term that refers to a ball, intended for a receiver, that is deflected in the air by a defender and falls incomplete. It is also referred to as a pass breakup or a pass deflected, and it's a statistic that can be ascribed to any defender who causes one, not just a defensive back.
Hi guys, great versatility of questions fielded on your part as always. As a long time follow and contributor I had an out of the box question for you: With Brady inevitably riding off into the sunset in the near future, I have been hearing a lot about a rising QB in college by the name of Teddy Bridgewater. What can you tell me about him and is there a distinct possibility that when he enters the 2015 NFL Draft that we might use Brady as trade bait to the team that would be drafting him in order to get him on the Patriots?
Thanks for the faithful support, Jon. All I know about Bridgewater is that he quarterbacks the Louisville Cardinals. Our focus around here, when it comes to drafts, is the same as Bill Belichick's approach to the regular season games: we take 'em one at a time. When Bridgewater is declared eligible for some future draft, then we'll do our due diligence on him. Till then, he's not worth the time or effort you've already wasted on thinking about him.