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Ask PFW: The draft is coming

Well, we are now just days away from the 2007 NFL Draft. With things heating up, there is plenty of talk about draft prospects and which ones could become future Patriots.

PFW, great job with the prospects. I mentioned Josh Gattis in my last (unanswered) post to you guys. However, I'm disappointed that you didn't do a write up for Josh Wilson (Maryland). I think he could sneak into the first round for the Pats for the following reasons: academically smart, loves to hit, high character, good timed speed, and has NFL bloodlines (father was Earl Campbell's FB with the Oilers). Wilson also looked good during Senior Bowl week. I don't expect Hall, Revis and Griffin to be there at #24 and the 25-27 teams are all looking DB help. Why do you like Reggie Nelson so much? He's not physical, not smart at all (2 years in JC and poor Wonderlic), and is a one-dimensional safety (poor run supporter). Yet you call him "versatile"? He's a rich man's Guss Scott. He scares me! Looking forward to more positional reviews.Mark E

First, let's not go overboard with the anti-Nelson campaign due to a couple of things you read on the Internet. I can understand if you are in the camp that believes he's overrated because I know a lot of people think that. However, comparing him to Guss Scott is just craziness. Somewhere between now and last college football season people seem to have forgotten that Nelson was a stud safety and defensive leader on a Florida team that won the National Championship. Now it's reported that he didn't score well on the Wonderlic test and fans don't want him anymore? Vince Young scored poorly on the Wonderlic test and so did Vince Wilfork. How are they doing? The reason I said Nelson was versatile is because he can play some corner as well as safety. When I break down prospects, I go by what I saw on Saturdays during the year and what I see on tape. I don't pretend to know how smart Nelson is because I never gave him a one-on-one interview. All I can go by is his play and if anyone tells you Nelson isn't a good football player, they're lying. I think it's unfair to say that a person you never met or talked to "isn't smart." Only the NFL people know that for sure.

Since you read the prospect reviews, you know that I'm very high on Gattis as well and think he would be an excellent selection for the Patriots in the third round if he's still available. The reason I didn't do a write-up on Wilson is because I just don't have the time to write a breakdown for every player in the draft. What I do is look where the Patriots are drafting and then focus on players I think will be available around those picks. I know some people think Wilson is a first round pick, but I still say he goes in Round 2. And because the Patriots don't currently own a second round selection, I decided to pay more attention to the cornerbacks projected to go in the third round area. Wilson is a good player but I don't think he'll be a Patriot unless they trade down into the second round and take him there. And thanks for reading the positional reviews and voicing your opinion. I always enjoy hearing what people think even if they disagree with my assessment on certain players.
-Tom Casale

With the addition of Tory James do you foresee the Pats drafting a corner in the first round to prepare for the departure of Samuel? Also Tom what do you think of Marcus Thomas as a possible 3rd or 4th rounder for the Pats. He might be a good NT in the 3-4 system and would add depth to the NT position. With all his baggage could he be a good value pick in those spots? Love the new format of the show that Frank guy is WAY BETTER than Perillo...J/K.Clint Scoles

First off Clint, in regards to James and Samuels, I don't think one thing has to do with the other. I believe if James has been signed as reports indicate, it's to add depth at cornerback and he probably would have been pursued even if the Patriots and Samuel had reached a long-term extension by now.

As far as Thomas goes, I really like him as a pass rusher. He has a good swim move and is extremely quick off the ball. Thomas does a good job of beating double teams to get to the quarterback. However, he's more of a pass rusher than a run stuffer at this point, so I'm not sure how well he would fit in the Patriots defensive scheme. I do agree with you though that with his talent and ability, Thomas will be a nice mid-round pick for some team if he can keep his head on straight.
-Tom Casale

Am I the only one that thinks LaMarr Woodley is a great player? I've watched many Michigan Wolverines games this past season and Woodley was a beast, a force to be reckoned with. How has he dropped out of the first round in the Draft? He had a very productive football career in Michigan. I would love if the Patriots traded one of their first round picks to move down and select Woodley in the Second Round! He would be an awesome choice for the Pats, and I have a feeling he is going to be a star in the NFL in a couple of years. Your thoughts?Mo S.

Actually Mo, you and I are in the minority when it comes to Woodley. In my opinion, he's the second best defensive end in this draft behind Gaines Adams. Here's what I had to say about Woodley in my breakdown of defensive ends:

I know mock drafts are just that and I do not put a lot of stock in them, especially with the Pats. But, in your opinion would think they would consider another TE in the first round. I know they consider value vs. need but that is a position that even with the loss of Graham I think we may have the best group as a whole in the league. I think Thomas will be good, Watson will be the man, and Brady will be a good role player. We also still don't know how the hybrid TE / FB Mills will be this year. I could see bringing someone else in for camp competition but I personally would hate to see them draft one in the first round but I am seeing a few mock drafts that have them taking one.David Houlden

I can say this because I do them myself: Mock drafts are useless. First of all, the only people who know which players the Patriots will draft are Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli and a few others. Second, they don't even know who they'll draft at this point because they don't select until pick 24. So, while mock drafts are fun to look at, I wouldn't be too concerned with who they have the Patriots taking.

So, now I'll put in my two cents. I don't see any way New England selects a tight end in Round 1. They already have two young, dangerous receiving threats in Ben Watson and David Thomas and one of the best blocking tight ends in Kyle Brady. Besides, I think Greg Olsen is a bit of an overrated prospect. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve to go in the first round but he's not so good that a team stocked at the tight end position would draft him. I would look at a tight end later in the draft. The guy I like is Joe Newton out of Oregon State. He's a solid run blocker with soft hands who is effective in the red zone. I could see them taking a guy like Newton in the sixth round but I don't see the Patriots using one of their top picks on a borderline first rounder at a position where they're already stacked.
-Tom Casale

I have been reading Ask PFW for two years now and love to read your responses. I know that it's impossible for anyone to predict what will be done in the draft this year, but can you see the Pats deciding on trading down their 28th overall pick for another 1st round pick next year and a high second round pick this year? Would you have any opinions on which NFL teams may be interested in such a trade?Greg Allain

Greg, while I can't say which particular teams would be interested in such a trade, I can say there are always teams on draft day looking to move up and down in that area. If the Patriots decide they want to move down from 28, I don't think they'll struggle to find a trading partner.

I actually think there is a good chance New England does trade down from that spot. A lot of times teams will covet a player who is slipping and will look to jump back into the bottom of Round 1 to grab him. We saw that with the Lions (Kevin Jones), Bills (J.P. Losman) and the Ravens (Kyle Boller) in recent years. I think there's a good chance that a player will slip to 28 and a team will be willing to give the Patriots a second round pick this year and possibly a future selection as well to move up. I really expect the Patriots to be busy on draft day due to those two first round picks they're holding.
-Tom Casale

Would the Patriots consider DeOssie at 24 or 28? Surely New York or Cleveland would be after the same type of players New England is. So is of that much value? Or is he not the ready-made Patriot some pundits think he is.Christopher Brown

There's no way any team would select DeOssie that high. He's a decent prospect who I believe could be a high-fourth round selection. However, if DeOssie goes in the first round, it would be one of the biggest shockers in draft history.
-Tom Casale

Hey I know that New England is pretty much set at the WR pos with Stallworth Washington Welker and maybe Caldwell and Jackson, but the Pats should consider drafting a certain wide receiver named Johnnie Lee Higgins. He in my terms is the next Marques Colston. He has great upside, and plus he played with Carson Palmer's brother at UTEP. I think he could be a shocker this year. He's really good. I don't know wat u think but that's my opinion.Chris C.

Well, he's not going to be the next Colston because last year Colston was an afterthought on draft day while Higgins is a third/fourth round prospect. I think Higgins is a good slot receiver who's explosive in the open field. He could become a productive second or third receiver at the NFL level. You said he's really good but I would question how many times you've seen Higgins play. I saw him play three times in college and I never leave my house on Saturdays. Also, I'm not sure why it matters that he played with Jordan Palmer at UTEP. The only thing Jordan and Carson Palmer have in common is the same mother. Higgins is a decent mid-round prospect but he's raw and still has a ways to go before he gets elected to the Pro Bowl.
-Tom Casale

Do you think that the Patriots will trade Eugene Wilson and a 1st round pick for Washington's 1st round pick for LaRon Landry? Is it a possibility that the Pats can come down with Landry and Ross?Sam Dhaliwal

No one loves Landry more than I do but I think we can stop all the possible trade scenarios to go up and get him. I know it's fun to try and come up with possibilities but I seriously don't see any way the Patriots move up into the top eight picks to draft Landry. This is a deep safety class and I would much rather sit back and pick up a Michael Griffin, Brandon Meriweather, Josh Gattis or Aaron Rouse. Landry is a beast but there are a lot of good safeties in this draft and I seriously doubt the Redskins would make the deal to begin with.
-Tom Casale

What do you think about Tim Shaw from Penn State as a 4th rounder? I think he's going to be a solid player in the NFL, but I'm not sure he can play ILB in a 3-4 or not. I'd be willing to give him a shot, though. I think he could make the transition.Mike Mammay

To say that I'm not a big fan of Shaw would be an understatement. This is what I had to say about him in my breakdown of outside linebackers:

I hope bb & sp are looking for more than one running back. The team needs someone who can run with the great end sweeps the pats have been noted for in the past, someone with speed and moves and can change speeds and direction and fake out the fast defensive backs and big D linemen. Maybe this RB from Arizona you hosted last week could be traded up for in the draft.John Couture

Henry isn't going to be drafted in the first round so there's no need for the Patriots to trade up if they want him. They can just draft Henry in Round 5 or 6 where he should be drafted. And by the way, the running back you described sounds a lot like Laurence Maroney. I don't know if you heard of him but Maroney is a heck of a lot better than some underachieving workout warrior from Arizona.
-Tom Casale

I just want to say thanks for the great job. I read your post every week. I'm a huge Patriots fan residing in Colorado so as you can imagine I take a lot of heat from the locals. This is a difficult question I'm sure but my brother is a late round prospect out of Colorado State University named Clint Oldenburg he's a tackle, what are your thoughts on Clint's prospects in this draft and perhaps on him becoming a Patriot? I admire your honesty with all player evaluations, so please don't hold back.Lee Oldenburg

Well Lee, since you are Clint's brother I'm sure you're aware that he was athletic enough to play some tight end at Colorado State in 2003. Oldenburg's athleticism and versatility reminds us a lot of Tom Ashworth. Granted, Ashworth is far from a Pro Bowl player but he was a decent contributor for a Super Bowl team. Let's be honest, his chances of getting drafted are slim. However, Oldenburg does possess the qualities New England looks for in it's offensive lineman projects, so signing him as an undrafted free agent isn't out of the question. I think you're best bet is your brother makes it onto a practice squad for a team with a good offensive line coach who can take his raw skills and turn him into a stronger, more complete player. Good luck.
-Tom Casale

Hi guys- I know you must be getting a ton of questions about the 1st round of the draft, but here goes... Is Patrick Willis THAT good? As things stand, it looks like Beason will be available when we pick at 24. We could then pick up a top-notch safety/corner at 28. If Willis is only marginally better than Beason, how would it benefit us to trade up? Maybe to stop Buffalo drafting him? With Vilma at the Jets, and Willis at Buffalo, our runners could be facing alot of big hits for years to come... You reckon it would prolong Maroney's career if Willis were a Patriot rather than a Bill? Or is that completely off the wall? Thanks for taking the time to read it.Tom Roberts

A couple of things Tom. First, Willis is by far and away the best inside linebacker available this year in my opinion. I like Beason and David Harris but those players are a notch below Willis right now. Willis is the total package when it comes to stopping the run and defending the pass and will most likely be a top 12 pick this Saturday. Harris is the next best fit for the Patriots at inside linebacker in my opinion.

Also, I don't think teams trade up and get a guy just to prevent another team from drafting him. I think teams get a player if he's the guy they want and feel he would fit well into its system. In other words, the Patriots will trade up to get Willis if they like him enough and think the value is right. They won't trade up to get him just to block the Bills. And I wouldn't worry too much about Maroney. He dishes out just as much punishment as he receives. I think after being in the NFL for a year, people are going to see an even better Laurence Maroney in 2007 and possibly a Pro Bowl runner by 2008.
-Tom Casale

Tom Casale is doing an outstanding job and I think he deserves a raise. His draft prospect reviews this year have been phenomenal! If the world had more Tom Casales it would be a better place. Thank you.Owen Costello

Needless to say this is the most intelligent e-mail we've ever received here at PFW and I agree with your assessment 100 percent. You are a fan that recognizes both brilliance and excellence when you see it. Great job Owen and keep up the good work.

PS Amazingly Mr. Costello is not related to me in any way, which is quite scary when you think about it.
-Tom Casale

Note: PFW will be doing a draft blog, starting on Wednesday, April 25. On the days leading up to the draft we'll have updated rankings, mock drafts and plenty of draft rumors that we're hearing in the blog. On draft day, we'll be posting our thoughts on everything draft related, including all the bad picks made by the Washington Redskins. Fans are welcome to participate by posting their opinions as well. The blog will be updated non-stop during the draft, so be sure to check it out. A link to the blog will be on, so everyone will be able to access it easily.

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