The draft is nearly upon us and the wait is almost over. By this time tomorrow, Eli Manning will either have taken his Wilson and gone home or he will have gotten his way and be a New York Giant. Either way, there will surely be plenty of other intriguing aspects to the weekend's events. The staff at PFW has compiled a list of 10 draft-related questions, some dealing with the Patriots and others not. Here's a look some of the things we expect to see over the weekend:
1. Will Ty Law be traded during the draft?
Yes. History tells us that disgruntled players often get their wish, which is a ticket out of town. Bill Belichick has been quiet on the issue, but how can he let a player exist in his locker room who has publicly called him a liar. That's certainly Law's line of thinking. The Patriots will likely get a 2005 first-round pick for Law this weekend, draft a safety in the second round and move Eugene Wilson back to corner where he will start and provide depth behind the rookie safety and Rodney Harrison. – Bryan Morry
No. Bill Belichick will hold on to Law for now, as the value won't be there this weekend. Once the coach realizes he has plenty of talent to live without the Pro Bowler he will consider shipping the cranky corner later this summer for future picks. – Andy Hart
Yes. There was a time during the offseason I felt Law would stick around one more year, no matter how many names he called Belichick. But the recent DB signings seem to point toward Law's departure. If the Pats can secure a high level corner or safety in the first round, Law will either have already been traded or on the way to the airport. – Paul Perillo
2. How many wide receivers will be drafted in the first round and who will they be?
Six – Larry Fitzgerald, Roy Williams, Rashaun Woods, Reggie Williams, Lee Evans and Michael Clayton. As deep as this group is, teams, in their constant search for offensive playmakers, will be afraid to let the top guys pass buy and choose from the next tier. This is not a position where players will slip, especially given the physical size of all these players except Evans, who is a burner that runs great routes. – Bryan Morry
Six – Even though my personal favorite, USC's Mike Williams, is no longer in the draft, it is still the deepest position. Larry Fitzgerald will kick off the parade of pass catchers followed by Roy Williams, Reggie Williams, Rashaun Woods, Lee Evans and Michael Clayton, not necessarily in that order. The overall size of this group and Evans' speed make them too tantalizing to pass up. – Andy Hart
I'd say five – Larry Fitzgerald, Roy Williams, Reggie Williams, Michael Clayton and Lee Evans. Mike Williams would have made six but he's in draft purgatory until the NFL realizes 18 is old enough to go to war and it should be old enough to play football. Anyway, Rashaun Woods will make some team very happy early in the second round. – Paul Perillo
3. Who will be a surprise top 10 pick?
Steven Jackson – Many mocks have him falling to Dallas at 22. He is a well-rounded runner who can catch it and pound it. I can see the Lions taking him with the sixth pick. They have Charles Rogers coming back, signed Tai Streets and a pair of guards in Damien Woody and David Loverne. It's time to add a top-notch runner while ignoring those who think this is too high to draft the best back available. – Bryan Morry
For me, quarterback Philip Rivers going in the top 10 would be huge surprise although word is it could happen. I just don't know how any team can risk a top 10 pick on a quarterback who can't even throw right. Yes he has been productive, but if I am picking I don't want any questions about a top 10 pick. – Andy Hart
Dunta Robinson. When I first started doing draft research, this guy was barely on the map. He was slated to be a late-first, early-second kind of guy. Now he's mentioned right up there with DeAngelo Hall and Chris Gamble as the top corners. It only takes one team in need of a corner who thinks Robinson is best for him to crack the top 10. Hey, it could happen. – Paul Perillo
4. Who will drop unexpectedly?
Cornerback Will Poole – The postseason has not been kind to Poole, who's suspect workouts have hurt his stock while other corners like DeAngelo Hall and Dunta Robinson have passed him. The only thing that may keep him in the first round is the fact that teams are desperate for corners to better handle spread formations that are in vogue. I say he drops out of the first round altogether and think Miami's Vernon Carey could go in round two as well, especially after hearing Pat Kirwan say on the radio that many offensive line coaches have Justin Smiley ahead of him. How many guards can go in round 1? – Bryan Morry
In my dream world Eli Manning would have the awkward feeling of sitting in front of the TV cameras as the top 10 comes and goes. I don't know how likely it is, but showing this overrated Peyton wannabe that he can't make up his own draft rules would be can't-miss theater. A more likely candidate though might be Reggie Williams as he gets jumped by the likes of Evans and Clayton in the run on wideouts. – Andy Hart
As much as I'd love to see Kellen Winslow Jr., his father, his attitude and his agent (Kevin Poston) fall, I can't see it happening. My head says Kenechi Udeze from USC. He's expected to be a top 10 pick in most mocks but there's some unsettled injury information out there and that might cause him to drop. He failed to report back to Indy for his medical update after the combine, and that might scare some away. – Paul Perillo
5. Which team will make the first draft day trade?
San Diego. John Elway … I mean Eli Manning says he doesn't want to go there and has threatened to sit out. While it would be nice if San Diego could tell him to stick it and pick him anyway, that's a battle the Chargers don't want to fight. But this is ridiculous. Go play where you get picked and shut up. How are bad teams supposed to improve when the best players refuse to go there? I hope San Diego picks Robert Gallery and costs Manning money by dropping him out of the top spot. The Manning family is overrated at quarterback anyway. Isn't that a position judged by wins and losses? What did any of them ever win? If my memory serves me, Tennessee won a national championship the year after Peyton graduated. Nice contract he just signed to handcuff his team. What will Marvin Harrison want next year? I digress. This request has made me angry with the whole Manning family even though Peyton is seemingly uninvolved. As much as I loved watching Elway, I always remembered that he stuck it to the Colts. I didn't like that. – Bryan Morry
San Diego. Whether I like it or not it looks like Manning could force the Chargers hand. The team can't worry about wasting a pick on a guy who might sit out all year when there will be trades on the table that will still bring a top-five pick as well as additional compensation. – Andy Hart
Again, my heart would love to see San Diego either take Eli Manning and call his bluff or simply take someone else to make him a lower pick, but the head says otherwise. The Chargers almost have to trade and I'd expect them and the Giants to reach some sort of agreement. San Diego can still get a top player at No. 4 plus at least one extra selection (presumably at the top of the second round). – Paul Perillo
6. Will the Patriots trade up in the first round?
No. They will either stay at 21 and take Texas defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs if he is still on the board or trade down, recoup the second-round pick they traded for Corey Dillon along with a 2005 first rounder (sound familiar?) depending on how far the trade down is, and then maybe move up a few spots from 32 if a player they covet is still available in the late 20s. – Bryan Morry
No, in fact I think chances are better that they trade down from 21 with another team looking to jump up and grab a player that slipped to that spot. While there have been a lot of very entertaining rumors about New England getting into the top six to take Sean Taylor I will take Bill Belichick at his word and believe it won't happen. – Andy Hart
Yes. It may not be the blockbuster into the top 5 or 10, but Belichick will move up. The question is, for whom? There will be a specific player in mind if he makes a deal and I'm not really sure whom that would be. My guess is Vince Wilfork. He's the closest thing to a potential Ted Washington replacement in this draft. – Paul Perillo
7. Of the Patriots eight scheduled selections, how many will come in their original slots?
I guess … three. Their seventh rounder, a fourth rounder and pick another one. They won't pick in the third, instead using that pick to move up in the second from 63. I think they could make the pick at 21, but this is a random question with a random answer. There can't be accountability on this, can there? – Bryan Morry
Four. Belichick and Scott Pioli love to deal on draft day to get good value, so let the games begin. It will all start with trading down from 21 and go from there. These guys have clear values established for each player they target and that can mean moving just a few spots to get each guy at the best value. – Andy Hart
I'd say five. The Pats will move around but it's almost impossible to predict where, when and how often. When in doubt, I'll go with Bill Parcells' soundbite from "PFW in Progress" for the second time. – Paul Perillo
8. What are the Patriots top three needs in order?
NT, S, OL – Keith Traylor is insurance. He has the girth to play nose tackle but he has never played there and is a merely a stopgap. If there is a player they think can man the nose in the 3-4 for the next five years, they have to get him. The additions of veteran corners Jeff Burris and Otis Smith also provide insurance. If the Patriots have a chance at a strong cover corner, they have to take him, but drafting a starting-caliber safety would allow them to move Wilson to corner where he could start opposite Tyrone Poole. If one of the safeties goes down, Wilson provides the depth with a player like Burris or Asante Samuel stepping in as the starter. That's assuming Law is not a Patriot in 2004. Sean Jones or the speedy Bob Sanders could be their guy. And while an interior lineman is more of a need, the Patriots would be best suited to take the best available offensive lineman in the second round – Justin Smiley, Chris Snee, Jacob Rogers???? – Bryan Morry
CB, DT, LB – As it stands right now there is no one glaring need for this team. I think cornerback is a target both because of the Law situation as well as Belichick's desire to have as many capable cover guys as possible for his creative schemes. The loss of Ted Washington without a true nose tackle replacement makes the spot a need if a real two-gap nose is on the board. Linebacker is a pretty deep spot right now, but a young, fast, playmaking prospect to line up behind the aging veterans would be a solid step toward strengthening the defense for many years to come. – Andy Hart
DB, LB, NT – Even with a happy Ty Law last year, the secondary was awfully thin. Adding AARP candidate Otis Smith and Jeff Burris to the mix doesn't make the situation much better. If Law goes, either Sean Taylor or a top corner has to be selected. The linebacker corps is solid but aging. And Rosevelt Colvin's health is still a question mark. Some youth and speed would be welcomed at this position. Nose tackle is arguably the most important spot in the 3-4 so a young one would make a lot of sense. – Paul Perillo
9. Will the Patriots select a running back on Day 1?
Yes. If they keep their third-round pick, look for them to target a player like Mewelde Moore or Tatum Bell in that round. Bell's speed could make him attractive in round 2. If they don't, they might look to round 4 to land their guy – Cedric Cobbs? – Bryan Morry
Yes. Corey Dillon answers the RB question for the present but I still think this team needs to search for the back of the future. Dillon is almost 30 and has had five seasons of more than 250 carries. Even if he is great in 2004, how long can he continue to take that type of pounding? Watch for the Patriots to look for a valuable back with potential in the second or third round. If Greg Jones falls that far, he's the guy. Mewelde Moore is another option, although he's a totally different type of player. – Andy Hart
No. I do expect at least one on Sunday, but to take a runner in the top three rounds after trading for Corey Dillon would actually surprise me … and not much this team does surprises me at this point. Greg Jones would be my one wild card. If for some reason the Patriots have a chance to get him in the second round, presumably by moving up, they might have to do it. – Paul Perillo
10. Who will be the Patriots first pick?
I have to go with Tubbs from Texas. I've seen a few mocks, including one I respect, put him in Seattle at 23. The Patriots pick two spots earlier and will force the Seahawks to go with Randy Starks. However, Seattle could try to move up for Tubbs much the way New England did in 2002 to get ahead of Seattle for Daniel Graham. Seattle ended up with troubled tight end Jerramy Stevens, who has 32 catches in two years, including six last year, in the first round. – Bryan Morry
Derrick Strait, cornerback Oklahoma. Strait has proven himself at a very high level in college and was a key, productive player on a very good defense. He may not be the fastest guy, but I think he would fit in well in New England and will be the team's first selection late in the first round after trading down from 21. – Andy Hart
I'd love to see Ohio State's Chris Gamble, but he's being represented by the Postons so that may be difficult to overlook (although it doesn't rule it out, either). If they indeed trade up, as I believe they may, DeAngelo Hall just might be the coveted player, and he would fit in nicely as one of the best athletes in this draft. If they stay put at 21, maybe Texas' Marcus Tubbs. – Paul Perillo