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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Supplementally speaking

The supplental draft was a big topic of conversation this week as news of former Virginia linebacker Ahmad Brooks' availablity has Patriots fans envisioning a potential fit inside in their 3-4 defense. That and other odds and ends highlight this week's edition of PFW's mailbag.

Just wondering if you could provide a little insight into the supplemental draft. I hear that Virginia LB Ahmad Brooks is still available. I think he might be a great ILB for the Pats to pick up. Is there any chance of this happening, or do teams like the Texans and Saints have first shot at him.Brent Morash

Hey guys, your radio show is great. My question is what is supplemental draft? And do you know about a guy Brooks who USA Today says is a great prospect.
Chris Locke

The supplemental draft, which takes place in July, is run like the regular draft in terms of order of selection. Houston will have the first pick, followed by New Orleans, Tennessee, the Jets and so forth. The Patriots would pick 21st. Now, where the supplemental draft differs is that teams don't have to exercise a pick if they choose not to. If the Patriots want Brooks, or anyone else, they would submit his name with the round in which they would like to take him. If they feel he's worthy of third-round status, as an example, they would have to hope that the teams that pick ahead of them didn't use a pick in the first three rounds on Brooks. If no one else picked Brooks, the Patriots would get him and then lose their third-round pick in the 2007 draft. The last time the Patriots exercised a supplemental draft pick was 1999 when they took cornerback J'Juan Cherry in the fourth round. They subsequently did not have a fourth rounder in the 2000 draft.
Paul Perillo

Hi there PFW how are you? My question regards the supplemental draft. I read the Patriots News Blitz article that discusses the possibility of Ahmad Brooks from Virginia or Donnie Edwards of the Chargers playing next to T-Bruschi this season, and I noticed an interesting piece of the article. "The Patriots will be slotted to pick in the bottom 12 of each round, and if they exercise a first-rounder on Brooks - who may not even be available at that point - they forfeit their first-rounder in next April's regular draft. "Why would the Patriots forfeit their 1st rounder in next April's regular draft?Andy

As I just explained, that's the way the supplemental draft works. If you choose to use a pick, then you must forfeit that pick in the following draft. If you take someone in the fourth round, like the Patriots did with Cherry in 1999, then you lose your fourth rounder in the following draft. There have been some quality players selected in the supplemental draft over the years like Bernie Kosar, Bobby Humphrey and Rob Moore as well as some busts like Steve Walsh, Brian Bosworth and Timm Rosenbach. Brooks is a talented player but obviously comes with the baggage of having been thrown off his team at Virginia. Whether anyone believes he's worthy of a pick remains to be seen.
Paul Perillo

What do you think are the chances of the Patriots picking us Ahmad Brooks in the supplemental draft? On the one hand, you have a top-5 talent who played for Al Groh's 3-4 system. He has all the physical tools you can possibly want in a 3-4 ILB, and has experience both inside and outside, giving him the versatility the Patriots like. On the other hand, he was kicked out of Virginia and last year's injury-riddled season brings questions about his work ethic. Rotoworld (citing the Boston Herald) said the Patriots were considering drafting him. What do you guys think are the chances of that happening? How would you guys feel about that move? And what round do you think the Patriots would have to use to get him? I've heard everywhere from a 1st to a 4th.

I'm not sure what interest the Patriots have in Brooks and I wouldn't expect Belichick to let us know either way. Brooks would have been a first day pick if he stayed healthy as a junior and definitely has the size and ability to play inside in the 3-4. I haven't seen any definitive word as to why Brooks was dismissed from the team, but you can bet Belichick has spoken to Groh and has all the information he needs. If Belichick comes away from that convinced he can play and won't be a problem, then I'd say a third or fourth-round pick in the supplemental draft is worth it. Anything higher than that, in my opinion, would be a huge risk. Also, the Boston Herald report did not say the Patriots were considering drafting him. It simply said that Brooks would be available in the supplemental draft and said nothing about the Patriots having any interest.Paul PerilloHow many teams have there been in the past that have had the amount of coordinator turnover that the Patriots have had lately (Weis, McDaniels/Crennel, Mangini, Pees). Has this happened a lot in the past?

It's fairly common in the NFL for successful teams to lose valuable members of their coaching staffs. While it's hard to say exactly how many teams have had three defensive coordinators in three years the way the Patriots will this year, it's not unprecedented. As for the Patriots, I can remember the team changing offensive coordinators three times in three years, from Ray Perkins to Larry Kennan to Ernie Zampese from 1996-98. That was partly due to a change in coaching regimes from Bill Parcells to Pete Carroll, but the premise for the players who remained was the same.
Paul Perillo

I was just curious if you think that Patrick Cobbs will be able to contribute this year. I know that they just signed him as a free agent, and this kid can really play. His vision is phenomenal. Is there any chance of him getting some carries this year?
Bo Warr

The Patriots have given undrafted free agents like Randall Gay and Mike Wright some opportunities in the past, but the odds are overwhelming against them even making the team, let alone contributing. Cobbs was very productive in college but didn't face the highest level of competition at North Texas. He'll need to show the coaching staff that he's capable of competing, and then would still most likely be relegated to the practice squad if he's able to stick around at all. With first-round pick Laurence Maroney here to push Corey Dillon, there doesn't seem to be much room for a developmental prospect like Cobbs on the active roster, but injuries could certainly change that picture in a hurry.
Paul Perillo

Learning that Maroney will inherit Sam "Bam" Cunningham's No. 39 jersey number leads me to wonder whether the Pats retire any jersey numbers, and if so, which numbers are on that list? If such a list exists, then John Hannah's No. 73 would be my first guess, in terms of number of Pro Bowls and overall opinion of retired Pats.
Ravi Reddy

The Patriots have retired seven jerseys in their history – Gino Cappellette (20), Mike Haynes (40), Steve Nelson (57), John Hannah (73), Bruce Armstrong (78), Jim Lee Hunt (79) and Bob Dee (89). They also have a Patriots Hall of Fame, which in addition to the above includes Nick Buoniconti, Steve Grogan, Babe Parilli and Andre Tippett.
Paul Perillo

Is newly signed rookie free agent RB Patrick Cobbs any relation to departed RB Cedric Cobbs?
Fred Smith

Not from any of the information I could gather. Patrick Cobbs was born in Shawnee, Okla., and attended Tecumseh High School before starring at North Texas University. Cedric Cobbs grew up in Arkansas and attended Little Rock HS before moving on to Arkansas. There is nothing in either of their biographies that suggests they are related.
Paul Perillo

With the success and popularity the Patriots have enjoyed in recent years, is there anything in the works to compile a "History of the New England Patriots" DVD, chronicling the amazing (and often unlikely) history of this franchise, the team's humble beginnings as a charter member of the fledgling AFL, the memorable games, players & seasons as the Boston Patriots -- and the many stadiums the Pats were forced to call "home" before finally building a stadium in Foxboro and renaming the team the New England Patriots, and then the promise that followed the drafting of Jim Plunkett, the Fairbanks era, Raymond Berry and the Pats first Super Bowl (XX) and another with Bill Parcells & finally Bill Belichick and 3 Super Bowl rings. Reading "Ask PFW" it is obvious than many Patriot fans are unfamiliar with just how truly amazing the Patriots are & how resilient this franchise has been, and, in addition to the 3 Games to Glory DVDs, NFL fans in general, and Patriot fans in particular would cherish a DVD chronicling the history of the team. I'm aware that DVDs chronicling the history of teams like the Bears, Packers & Cowboys have been released. Why not the Pats, too?
Jim Dillard

That sounds like a great idea Jim, just don't say anything to Fred because he'd probably make Andy, Tom and I do it. In all seriousness, there have been some talks about doing something in conjunction with the franchise's 50th anniversary, which is still a few years away in 2009.
Paul Perillo

Is it just me or do the Patriots have a ridiculous amount of cap space at $10 million? All due respect to Belichick's free agency maneuvering, if he doesn't sign Ty Law, is Belichick stuck squandering that money on another half dozen Mel Mitchells? It appears we already have enough bummed out linebackers and cornerbacks on the roster, so will that money end up back in Kraft's pocket? It seems to me like there aren't any other top tier free agents, and $10 million would be a monumental waste of unused money. I hope that the $7 I spend on 12 ounces of beer at Gillette is going to be used for someone worthwhile.
Alex Merrill

Alex, when have the Patriots ever not spent their allotted cap requirements? You and I both know when all is said and done that the Patriots will spend whatever they have left to get to the cap limit. Ty Law is still a possibility, and the draft picks still need to be signed and the Patriots always make moves even as the summer approached. In other words, I wouldn't worry about the Patriots current cap situation and whether or not the team will be wasting its money.
Paul Perillo

Let's suppose Ty Law signs with the Pats. Although his contract is likely to have incentives, but probably a sizable guaranteed money as well. If he feels that he is underpaid, how can we be sure that he would not perform as Tyrone Poole did? As much as I would like to see Law in our backfield, I am not certain that he would play his heart out. My only hope is his motivation for the 4th ring, but even that may not be enough. My question, is Law the kind of guy who can take a paycheck and not bust his chops?Ed

When have you ever seen Ty Law not give an effort? And if he was upset about his contract, wouldn't he want to play as hard as possible to show the rest of the league that he is still deserving of a big-money deal? If Ty Law becomes a member of the Patriots secondary he would be the last member of it that I would worry about it. If Law has proven nothing else over the years, he's shown to be a very proud performer who cares greatly about his reputation as one of the game's best. I just can't see him giving anything less than his best effort.
Paul Perillo

What do you guys think about Marquise Hill making the team again this year? I believe he has one more year on his rookie contract, but as of yet he hasn't made any significant contributions. Got an update on Mr. Hill?Gary Abrams

Hill actually signed a five-year contract as a rookie so he still has three years left on that deal – and at very affordable dollars. So far we haven't seen much from the former second-round pick and that can't be seen as a good sign for him. I understand that with Seymour, Wilfork, Warren and Green ahead of him that playing opportunities are rather scarce, but it would seem a promising prospect would have found a way to get on the field more often than he did in his first two seasons. Belichick said last year that his progress from Year 1 to Year 2 was significant, but evidently it wasn't enough to warrant a spot in the regular defensive rotation. My guess is this must be the year for Hill to emerge, and based on his low salary I'd bet that he'd get every opportunity to do so and will be a part of the 2006 team.
Paul Perillo

I have a few questions about the '06 LB depth chart. Not too long ago, the Pats picked up a couple seasoned guys at LB (Gardner and Loyd). Are these guys going to be character/special teams guys (i.e. Larry Izzo) or will they actually push for playing time? I can't see them actually making it into the starting line-up, which leads me to my next question. Who will start at LB for the Pats in '06 and where? It seems Bruschi, Vrabel and Colvin are virtual locks to start at LB. Will Vrabel remain inside or move back outside? And who will be the 4th LB? Will Beisel start and where? Personally, I do not see Beisel as a starter, at least not in '06. Am I correct in assuming that the team will try to add another LB before the season begins? If they do, I would assume they will wait to see who is released at the June deadline. Are there any quality LB's who are likely to be cut in June? And who is likely to be the Pats competition for these players? Also, I noticed the Bears did not immediately re-sign Hunter Hillenmeyer. I really think he would be a solid addition to the team. He played well when stepping in for injured Bears LB's and I think he would be a good fit at ILB, which would allow Vrabel to move back outside. He's only 25 and he's the type of player (6'4 240lbs) who could take on blockers and let Teddy flow to the ball. Both and have him listed with the Bears still, but I'm 90% sure they never re-signed him and I hope no one else has. I think platooning him and Beisel at ILB would be a good solution, at least for this season. What do you think?... Wow, that was much longer than I had intended. Please forgive me, it's a LONG offseason.

Belichick said that both Gardner and Loyd are candidates for roles both on defense as well as special teams, but based on track record it would seem Gardner is a more realistic possibility for the former. Loyd hasn't played any defense during his brief career while Gardner has 24 career starts to his credit in eight NFL seasons. My guess is that neither will start for the Pats, but Gardner's chances would be significantly better than Loyd's. As for who will start, based on what's currently here I'd have to say Beisel next to Bruschi while Vrabel moves outside along with Colvin. There could be some linebackers available down the road (Jamie Sharper is already out there) but none that I would consider a significant upgrade over Beisel. If Donnie Edwards becomes available (San Diego is reportedly interested in trading him) then I would consider him an upgrade, but that's all speculation. June 1 doesn't provide the kind of influx of talent that many fans think, especially now that the cap has been raised so much from last year. As for Hillenmeyer, according to the Chicago Tribune he signed his one-year tender offer to remain in Chicago last month.
Paul Perillo

What was the name of the New England Patriots before they were the New England Patriots?
Sheila Groat

The team was known as the Boston Patriots from 1960-70. They moved to Foxborough in 1971 and became known as the New England Patriots at that time.
Paul Perillo

2 things, I remember why some people were asking why didn't Belichick draft this guy or that sooner, and BB told the media "we found value" ie they didn't reach. Why didn't they reach? Because you get Bethel Johnson. Bethel Johnson was projected 6th rd pick but picked in the 2nd, a huge reach. I remember reading it in every newspaper the next day and the rest of the offseason. Something that hasn't really panned out in BB's favor. That being said I hear a lot of Bethel Johnson is a bust, well while he hasn't played to a 2nd round pick's expectations, it might be because he never was worthy of where he was picked. Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf are busts, Bethel Johnson is a guy who was picked WAY too early. If he was picked in the 6th round, I don't think people would be calling him a bust, they would be saying something along the lines of-great returner, 6th rd steal, gives great mismatches in 4/5 WR sets. That's about it, it's been on my mind for a while, i just never wrote in.
Mike Cziria

While I agree with your point, I disagree with your assessment. Let me explain. I agree that a perfectly suitable player may be perceived in a negative light because of his draft status. Tebucky Jones is an example of this. Maybe not worthy of his first-round status, but not a bad player. Bethel Johnson certainly wouldn't be considered a bust if he was a sixth-round pick instead of a second rounder. But I disagree your assessment of the sixth-round Johnson. He hasn't been a great returner since his rookie year and he has never been much of a threat as a receiver, so why would he be thought that way if he was a sixth-round pick? In fact, it's possible that if he was a sixth-round pick he may no longer be a Patriot at all. Lower draft status doesn't make a guy a better player and your description of Bethel Johnson, in my opinion, is higher than what I've seen from him in his three years.
Paul Perillo

I believe two years ago Chas Gessner lead the team in the preseason in receptions and yardage. I thought he had the chance to develop into a quality third/slot receiver. With the Patriots being thin at the wide receiver position this year it appears as if they really could have used him now. Where did he go and has he had any success to date?Jim

Gessner went to the Jets after being released by New England in 2004 and wound up on the Jets practice squad. He was cut by New York last September and was out of football before signing with Tampa Bay in January. Obviously he's fighting just to stay in the league so I don't see him being an impact player at this point in his career. Gessner clearly has the size to be effective but I think he lacks the speed to get open consistently at the NFL level. But maybe he'll find a role in Tampa.
Paul Perillo

So, rookie mini-camp has come and gone, and we're now left with this painful annual lull in football action and news for a few weeks. Though it's way too early to be evaluating players, the reports out of camp were that Garrett Mills didn't exactly wow everyone with his receiving like some expected. Apparently his in-line blocking, like Dave Thomas' (and Ben Watson, I should mention) isn't all that great. My question now turns to the possibility of Mills at H- or Fullback. If he isn't quick enough to punch a block every time along the line, do you think he's capable of lead blocking for either Dillon, Maroney or Faulk? Let's face it, we haven't had a true blocking fullback since Marc Edwards left, and he was capable of making even Antowain Smith look good. Heath Evans wasn't really able to fill in at fullback much last year, because he had to be the single back for a few weeks before getting hurt himself. And let's face it, Patrick Pass isn't really the best option at fullback for blocking, either (when your halfback is as big or bigger than your fullback, you better hope your halfback is Jerome Bettis). Could the Pats' problem with rushing last season be attributed more to a lack of a powerful blocking back just as much as the problems along an injury-prone line? And do you think Evans can show up this season and fill such a role? I just didn't see enough of him in a blocking capacity to truly evaluate, and I'm just figuring you guys would know. Thanks!Casey Allen

I don't believe the Patriots running problems have much to do with fullback. Dillon ran for more than 1,600 yards with Patrick Pass – and mostly out of one-back sets – in 2004 and then had a big drop-off last season. Pass was still there so you can't blame him. Obviously Dillon didn't run as effectively in 2005 as he did the previous season. Whether injuries were responsible for that no one knows but him. But either way, lead blocking was a major problem. As for Garrett Mills, I wouldn't expect him to serve as a traditional fullback. He has the versatility to be used out of the backfield as a receiver, but he isn't considered to be much of a blocker. I'll reserve judgment on that until I see him with pads on, but that was the scouting report on him coming out of college. So if he's not much of a blocker at tight end it wouldn't seem to make much sense to use him as a lead blocker at fullback. I believe Heath Evans, whether as a running back or a fullback, will battle long odds to make the club this season. He did a nice job as an injury replacement last year, but with Dillon, Maroney, Faulk and Pass, plus Mills if they choose to use him that way, I don't see any room for Evans.
Paul Perillo

Hi, thanks for your diligent work every week. I know that some media members have suggested the Pats could be interested in Donnie Edwards, but given that he's still on the Chargers and may or may not be released, what about a veteran like Jamie Sharper? To my knowledge he is still available, and there seems to be little or no demand or interest in him at all. He is on the downside of his career, but for almost his entire career (minus last year) he has been durable, and except for last year he has produced and been a solid player wherever he's been. Just a year ago, as many as four teams were competing for his services. Isn't he worth the veterans' minimum to see if he has regained his health and playmaking skills? He could line up opposite Colvin at OLB, or he could even try to make the switch inside and move Vrabel back outside. While he can't play special teams like the other veteran LBs signed by the Pats recently, he could potentially find a spot in the linebacker rotation. What do you think?MC

I like Sharper but I wonder what he has left at this point. He'll be 32 in November and has played a lot of football over his nine-year career. While he does have experience playing in the 3-4, he was available last season as well and the Patriots didn't seem too interested in acquiring him. But maybe Belichick did have some interest and we just never heard about it – that's usually the way the Patriots operate. But either way, I just don't see Sharper being the answer at this stage of his career. Personally, and I know this will probably send Pats fans into orbit, I'd rather go with Beisel and Bruschi inside and take my chances with a younger player with some upside.
Paul Perillo

First, Tedy Bruschi represented himself in contract negotiations, but hired an agent after his stroke. Now that he is OK does he still use the agent or has he returned to self-representation? Second, if Ty Law wasn't with the Postons, would he already be in N.E. (or not have left, for that matter?) Finally, my friends and I got sick of seeing all the Jets fans' ugly mugs on T.V. at the draft every time they picked. Would PFW have any interest in organizing a bus trip to Radio City Music Hall for next year's draft to support the Pats' picks? I'm in.
Bill Mooney

Bruschi is under contract so he hasn't needed to enter into negotiations during the offseason. Therefore it's unknown whether he'd do so without or without the aid of an agent. My guess is he will keep the agent (Brad Blank) for the remainder of his career, but I don't know for sure. Second, my guess is that Ty Law will do whatever Ty Law thinks is best, Postons or no Postons. Personally, I don't believe there is any love lost between the Patriots and the Postons but I don't believe that has anything to do with why he isn't here. And oh yeah, have fun at the draft.
Paul Perillo

I am writing to ask you a specific (easily definable) question. I would like to know the difference between Vinatieri's new contract $$ and what we are paying for kicker position contracts. Yes I am trying to feel better about not having A.V. Yes I think we will be all right despite losing 'His Royal Clutchness' and yes I am mostly mollified by thinking that some of that savings went towards us keeping Richard Seymour. Thanks for all you do to keep us informed. Pats fan in the South
Matt Snow

First of all, that's not really an "easily definable" question. The Patriots will likely only be paying one of the two kickers that are currently on the roster (Gostkowski and Gramatica) and Gostkowski isn't even signed yet. Assuming he winds up getting a modest signing bonus and a rookie salary, clearly Vinatieri's 2006 take will dwarf his. Gramatica signed for the veteran minimum ($710,000 for eighth-year players) so Vinatieri will certainly get much more than that as well. Vinatieri signed a five-year, $12 million deal with $3.5 million up front. There's no doubt the Patriots saved money, but we'll have to wait to see how the replacements fare before determining if it was the right move.
Paul Perillo

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