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Patriots Mailbag: Position competitions, coaching questions, and more

In this week's mailbag, fans have questions about the entire roster, including the coaching staff.

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It seems like Cole Strange has the size, length, and agility to play left tackle. Do you think the Patriots might be thinking of eventually moving Cole play left tackle? John Reddington

Over the years, I've learned it's a fool's errand to say "never" when it comes to what the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick will do. However, considering that Strange has virtually no experience playing any tackle position, I find it unlikely that he'll be asked to do so at the highest level of football, at least not on a regular basis. Erik Scalavino

Which undrafted rookie is going to make the final roster? David Beckett

Impossible to predict without having seen any of them on the field yet. However, the one I was most intrigued by – before he was released on Monday – was D'Eriq King, the multi-position offensive sparkplug. It would've been fun to see how the Patriots might have utilized his athletic gifts. Now, though, given the need the Patriots still have at defensive line, it might be reasonable to expect one of the undrafted D-linemen to have a legitimate shot of making the roster. Erik Scalavino

These days in New England, it's getting harder and harder to keep up with the Joneses. After the arrival of Marcus Jones and Jack Jones in the backfield via the draft, what do you think the future looks like for existing cornerback Jonathan Jones? Do you think the rookies will come in and take control or do you think he will flourish more this season because of the arrival of these two new faces? Marc Saez

With the addition of Marcus Jones, do you think we will keep Jonathan Jones after this year? Isaac Sittner

The Patriots have many CBs, and I wonder if young corners like Joejuan Williams and Shaun Wade will make the roster? Stan Cohen

Cornerback is going to be perhaps the most unpredictable position competition in Foxborough this summer. Every job is up for grabs. Even an incumbent like Jalen Mills will likely have to prove he deserves to keep his starting role. Hopefully, the new Joneses will provide more depth and talent, but based on recent results with Patriots cornerback draft picks, it's probably best to manage your expectations until we see what they're capable of on the field. Erik Scalavino

Patriots first-round pick, Cole Strange
Patriots first-round pick, Cole Strange

How does the number they're drafted at and the position they play affect draftees' salaries? Would a QB get more than a cornerback, or are all positions in the first round guaranteed the same money? Blair Boone

Rookie contracts now have a predetermined range, as set forth by the league's collective bargaining agreement, based on where a player is drafted, not on the position they play. Theoretically, if, say, a kicker were taken first overall, he'd get the biggest contract of that draft class. Yet gone are the days, for example, when the top overall pick would get a gargantuan contract. That said, the higher the draft pick, the greater the amount of money the player receives, generally speaking, but the variations from pick to pick are relatively small. Erik Scalavino

When people write that they had a player ranked lower on their board, does that mean they have gone out and worked the player out? Or does it mean that the college ranking system is taken verbatim by whoever published it? When a player is not picked at the time when this pub says to pick, your team is wrong for picking that player. Isn't that a form of inside trading? Or some form of manipulation by an outside source? Shannon

No, the members of the media who compile their draft boards do not get to work out players. Only NFL teams can do that. What the media pundits do is watch film, evaluate Combine and workout results, and maybe talk to college coaches and scouts to get a sense of where a player should be drafted. Then, they build their rankings based on this. NFL scouting departments have much more information and resources with which to evaluate talent, although it's still an inexact science, as the draft proves every year. Erik Scalavino

Is there any chance the Patriots would consider either trading or releasing Nelson Agholor and bringing aboard someone like Will Fuller? He doesn't appear to have that much of a market at the moment and, if healthy, would likely be an additional upgrade in the speed department, whilst also likely saving the Patriots some money against the cap. Eric Elman

The Patriots could really use a few free agents to make their roster more competitive, but cap space is a limitation, and I wonder if they could trade Agholor to help with that? Ken Kannapan

The Patriots would consider moving any player if it was in the best interest of the team. But Agholor remains one of the best receivers New England has right now. That could change if rookie Tyquan Thornton shows some ability during spring and summer practices. If Thornton emerges as a legitimate option, then moving Agholor could make sense. I still believe Agholor has more to contribute to this offense, however, and am willing to give him a second chance. Erik Scalavino

Punter Jake Bailey looks to have a bounce back year
Punter Jake Bailey looks to have a bounce back year

I thought I read that Mac Jones was working with Tom Brady's throwing coach, Tom House. Is that report accurate, and if so, what progress had been made in terms of Mac's velocity strength throwing the football? Joseph Easton

You probably saw the social media post earlier this offseason which included a photo of Jones with House. However, neither man confirmed that they were working together. Regardless, until we see Jones on the field again, it's impossible to say what kind of strides he's made this offseason with his development. Erik Scalavino

We all know how coach Belichick likes to keep everyone on their toes by bringing competition at every position no matter how good the starter may be. Is there any reason that Jake Bailey should be looking over his shoulder at Jake Julien? Bill Handley

This has been a common narrative throughout the offseason, based on Bailey's substandard (for him) 2021 season. However, there's a reason he's one of the highest-paid punters in the league – because he's one of the best. He also doubles as New England's primary kickoff specialist and its backup placekicker. A knee injury early last season likely contributed to his struggles, and bringing in a player to compete with him is probably more an insurance policy if Bailey's knee isn't sufficiently healed. When healthy, though, Bailey is one of the best in the game. So, no, I don't think he has any reason to be concerned about losing his job here in Foxborough. Erik Scalavino

What's your take on the Patriots coaching staff overall and do you have concerns about it at this time? Ron Scarlata

There are as many questions about coaching as there are on the player roster this season, largely because so many coaching roles remain undefined, at least publicly. Internally, I'm sure the staff knows what everyone's role will be this season, but until we actually see who's doing what on the sideline (particularly on offense), it's natural to harbor some concerns.

I also recall some unusual comments from players last season, expressing tacit frustration with some of the coaching decisions being made. That's very atypical of a Patriots team, so, again, until we see a difference in the product on the field, the coaches have to prove themselves as much as their players. Erik Scalavino

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