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Friday, April 11, 2014
Leftovers from Patriots weekly chat

By Mike Reiss

Some leftovers from our weekly Patriots chat:

Gary in Monroe: I disagree with the idea of drafting a safety high. In 2012, they took Tavon Wilson (second round). In 2013, they took Duron Harmon (third round) and it became clear Wilson was not the answer. If they draft a safety early in 2014 what does that say to Harmon?

Gary, I think Harmon showed some positive signs in extended action last year (36.9 percent of the defensive snaps). I went back to compare the defensive playing time for Harmon as a rookie (427 snaps) to Wilson as a rookie (473), and was surprised at how it matched up. Wilson really dropped off in his second season (18 snaps). I don't think we'll see the same regression from Harmon, as he showed more range than Wilson, was a more consistent tackler, and I believe he has more overall upside. All that said, if the Patriots felt strongly about a safety at the top of the draft, I wouldn't hesitate because of the type of message it would send to Harmon. He's a competitor and you have that obligation to improve the team if you truly feel it's the best player.

Gary (East Hanover, NJ): What do you think of the decision to bring back Patrick Chung rather than Steve Gregory at a reduced salary? Do you think it relates to Chung potentially doing more from a special teams perspective?

Gary, I think you nailed it -- a combination of more special teams considerations and cheaper option in salary and against the cap. I wouldn't say his spot on the roster is a lock at this point.

Justin (Boston): Athletic linebackers seem more abundant than good defensive ends. If a guy like Dee Ford falls to 29, would you grab him over a guy like Ryan Shazier or Stephon Tuitt?

Justin, it's probably not fair to Ford, but whenever I see "undersized edge rusher" attached to a prospect it makes me hesitate. I haven't watched enough of Ford to feel as strongly about him as I do some others, so from a pure traits perspective, I'd probably shy away and go in the other direction.

Tim (Brighton, MA): Depending on what the Patriots choose to do with the 29th pick, one guy I have my eye on in perhaps the second round is Scott Crichton, DE, from Oregon State. He has a bigger build, and really seems like he could be a good fit if guys like Stephon Tuitt or Kony Ealy aren't there in round 1. Do you have any thoughts on him as a good guy to throw in the mix with Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich?

Tim, Crichton has some good things going for him. He isn't undersized at 6-foot-2 7/8, 273 pounds. He was consistent (37 starts), played with the high motor teams are generally looking for, and draft analysts note he seems to check off every box from an off-field perspective. Concerns would be if the team views him as too one-dimensional because he might not be a conversion-type who excels dropping into coverage, and if his arm length against bigger NFL offensive tackles might hold him back. Let's keep an eye on him.

Tyler (Oklahoma): Where does Logan Ryan end up on the depth chart? We have what seems like five quality corners. So who will be number five guy? 

Tyler, I think Ryan is competing for a starting job with Alfonzo Dennard opposite Darrelle Revis in the first four games of the regular season, which is when Brandon Browner is suspended. There will be an easing-in process with Browner after that, and if everyone is healthy and Browner emerges as the starter opposite Revis, I think Ryan and Dennard would then be closer to fourth/fifth on the depth chart (Kyle Arrington locked into the slot as the No. 3). In that scenario, it could lead Ryan to get a look at safety.