Good afternoon from Indianapolis at the NFL combine. Lots of good NFL talk to digest here, and I'm looking at it through a Patriots-like lens.
Looking forward to hearing former Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli talk today at 2:15 p.m. Let's roll...
Mike, why do we keep hearing about Julius Peppers and the Pats? Coach BB might like him as a player, but there is no way the Pats (or any other team in my mind given the uncertain labor situation) should spend that kind of money for a free agent deal.
I think it's a fun topic to toss around, Butter, almost in a fantasy-football type way. I don't see the Patriots going that big-bucks route with either Vince Wilfork and/or Tom Brady having agreed to a long-term deal.
Mike,Any scoop on Sproles? He could be a good fit in a team of RB and give a boost to our highly anemic kickoff return.
No real scoop at this point, because the process still has to unfold. The Chargers have to officially not place a tender on him as a restricted free agent. Once that happens, on March 5 he would become a free agent.
Even though the Patriots seem to be set at safety, what do you think the odds are they'd take a flyer on Myron Rolle, the former seminole who was a Rhodes Scholar? He should be there in the late-middle rounds and seems like a high-character guy with all the intelligence Belicheck looks for
I could see that Tom. One area to watch at safety is with James Sanders. He is scheduled to earn $2.3 million. I don't think the Patriots would cut him, but it's something I wouldn't be shocked by based on his limited playing time for parts of last year and the presence of Pat Chung.
Mike, do you think that Kraft's comments regarding Vince were in part a response to Moss' comments earlier in the week that the Patriots don't pay?
I think those are good instincts, Sean, although I don't think it was solely about Moss. My sense is that Kraft was aware of a growing perception that the Patriots don't spend and it just seemed to me like he wanted to take that opportunity to nip it in the bud.
Hey Mike,With all the Wilfork talk, I feel that we haven't heard much about Bodden. If we don't resign him, then I feel that CB is as important a position to fill as a pass rusher. Having said that, what would be our options? FA, or draft? I would love to have Kyle Wilson. Any chance we make a move on a player like Dunta Robinson? I don't think any QB will feel the heat when throwing on Wilhite or Butler's side!
My sense on Bodden is that he will explore the market in hopes of a long-term deal in the $4-5 million per year range. I'm not sure that will be out there for him, but he is one of the top corners available in an overall weak free-agent year. I expect the Patriots to stay in contact with him as the process unfolds, giving them a chance to strike if the numbers come down to an area they are more comfortable with. I like Robinson and would think any action on him would have to come in the first few days. I wouldn't give up on Butler yet.
Mike, what changes have the Pats made in evaluating college talent? It seems that last year's draft was much better than in the previous years. Also, why don't the Pats use BLESTO?
I don't sense that they've made any big changes, Rick. When you look around the NFL, a lot of teams are hot and cold on the draft. Personnel is very tough. As for why the Patriots don't use BLESTO, I think part of it is that they take pride in system-specific scouting. They want players rated as to how they would fit in their system.
Hey Mike- all I have been hearing about this draft is that it is SO stocked with DL/OLB. I know they are pressing needs for the Patriots, but I can totally see them using their 1st rd pick on another position and picking up a few DL later in the draft because there will be so many available. What are your thoughts on that? Also, do you think the Pats would consider Tebow if he is there for the taking in the second round?
That would not be a shocker, Chris. I think that's why it is a challenge to say 'I think they'll go LB in the first round' and lock in on that. You want to see what opportunities present themselves as the board unfolds. I'd be surprised if the Patriots go Tebow in the second round. If they do, I think they'd work with him as an H-back type.
Hi Mike: Any tight ends stand out to you at the combine, seems like we have let so many good guys slip away, and now stand to loose another in Watson, so who is up next??
Haven't seen the TEs yet, Corky. Maybe later today. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock believes this is a deep draft at TE. I think that's good because the free-agent crop looks light.
Will Randy Moss be a Patriot next year? If they were to try and trade him, what could they expect in return?
I'd expect Moss to be with the Patriots in 2010. In a trade, I think you could expect as high as a second-round pick from a needy team, assuming that team felt confident it could extend Moss's contract.
Mike,If the NFL has an uncapped year as expected, and certain teams go wild spending money to stock their rosters, what happens when a new agreement is reached, and the salary cap is reinstated? Will the teams over the new cap get grandfathered, and allowed to keep their players on the roster, or will they be made to cut some of the players to get under the new cap?
I'm starting to hear talk about that here at the combine, Don. Teams are operating within a budget, because they believe if a cap is ever reinstated, they would have to account for their past spending. San Francisco 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan said this morning that his team will operate as if the 2010 season had the same type of salary cap as 2009.
Can a reporter at the NFL combine get any important information from watching the drills or is this more of a time to get good insights from scouts,coaches and personnel people.
I think it's more of the latter, David. You could probably see as much as me from watching NFL Network. For me, I like to talk to coaches and executives, get a feel for their teams, their philosophies, and build relationships.
Mike, I know that you have expressed your doubts that Vrabel would ever come back here, but I read somewhere this week that his agent stated that Mike loved being a Pat and would welcome the idea about possibly returning in the future. Have you heard anything about this and are fences mended yet?
With all due respect to his agent, Sal, I think an agent will often times say anything to create a market for his client.
In your opinion, how much have Wonderlic scores played into the Pats' approach to drafting players and how much does Belichick guage football intelligence through the interview process?
I think the Wonderlic is important to the team, and a low score would often lead them in another direction. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I believe it is something they value.
Mike, a huge Pats fan in a time zone 11 hours ahead. What is your sense of the era of offensive football we are witnessing? And might the core principles of the Belichek defensive system be gradually outdated as offensive football changes? Do we need to tear up the approach and re-think the defense?
I like the question, Greg, and this is something I've begun to look into. I believe the system is still sound. It needs some more players. One example to consider: A team like Buffalo that ran the Tampa-2 -- with Aaron Schobel screaming off the edge in the 4-3 -- was recently referred to as passive by one analyst. I think you add a DeMarcus Ware to the Patriots defense and we wouldn't be talking as much about scheme. The key is finding the next Ware.
Mike, i really love your work here on the blog. one of the highlights of the day for me. My question is how many veteran WRs do you envision the Pats bringing in during camp? As much as everyone likes Patten, I have a hard time believing that he will make the team this year?
My prediction would be one more, Sweet Lou. Josh Reed of Buffalo was one name that put on the radar as a player who has some experience and might be de-valued because of the quarterback uncertainty/struggles in the Bills huddle.
Mike,Do you have any scoop on the amount of money WIlfork is looking for? Hampton's deal is very doable. Is he looking for 30 mil or more in guarantees?
I don't Lawfirm. In terms of Hampton, I think that deal stregthens the Patriots' position. I think if the Patriots are in the range of $25 million in bonuses/guarantees, both sides could feel good about that.
Mike-I know you have talked about your cousin Floyd Reece having a bigger impact now that he is in his second year with the Pats. Will he have any impact on player personnel or just contracts?
From what I understand, Cousin Floyd is still focusing on the contract side of things. I don't sense much has changed there, but I don't know that for sure.
Mike, what has coach belichick been up to since he's been back at the Pat's offices after his vacation? Mostly contract issues or prepping for the draft?
Combination of both sounds right. I wouldn't be surprised to see him here at the combine.
Hey Mike!Do you think that the patriots will be able to grab enough players in free agency and the draft to remain the top team in the AFC East???And who do you suspect they go after iN free agency and the draft??
I think the reports of the Patriots demise are premature. From the sound of it, this is a great draft for them to reload, with first-round quality talent available in the second round. Mardy Gilyard, a receiver from Cincinnati, is a player I want to take a closer at as a second-round possibility. In free agency, we've been running a free-agent fit series on ESPNBoston.com that targets some possibilities.
Mike,Each time I look at the roster, I feel that the team is more incomplete than it ever has been. We virtually need help at every position. Need OLB, DE, CB, WR, RB and TE. Do you think that Pat's philosophy of letting players walk and not so good draft rating in the last few years is coming back and biting them in the rear?
A little bit, pats fan, but I still don't think they are far away from being a contender. This is the year you'd like to see players drafted in 2006 and 2007 ready to take over and I think that's where we see the holes coming to the fore. They didn't have big hits in the draft those years.
I noticed that BB often likes to trade down his draft picks in order to get more players, do you think we will keep our 3 second round picks or even the first round?
I think he'll keep the picks this year, Devan, because as I hear the chatter growing louder here at the combine, this is a deep draft where a team can really help itself. One scout told me that the Patriots were in a sweet spot with three second-round picks.
What are the chances that the Patriots go back to Boston College to replace their current center? Matt Tennant seems to fit the bill. Dan Koppen's play has fallen off over the last couple of seasons and I don't see a replacement on the roster. Neal could be gone as well and Connolly has only been an adequate replacement. Brady has taken too much pressure up the middle and his knee injury has left him even less mobile than before. What can we expect from this draft to help the O-Line?
One thing about Tennant that caught my eye is size. He's not as big as a player like Pouncey from Florida. That's why if a player like Pouncey is there at 22, I wouldn't be shocked if he was the pick. He could be your center of the future as well as a possible guard.
Also, we shouldn't overlook that the Patriots brought in competition for Dan Koppen last year in Al Johnson. That didn't work out, but my feeling was that they brought Johnson in because they wanted to push Koppen.
Mike, what offseason move do you think the Pats could make that would surprise people?
Maybe a player like Darren Sproles. He'd fall into that playmaker type category.
Hi Mike! Do you believe that Brady will lobby the Pats to re-sign Moss, or do you think deep down he knows that Moss is a goner ater this year?
I could see Brady lobbying both the Pats and Moss. I think Brady apreciates having veterans around him at this point of his career. I could see him telling Belichick how much he enjoys playing with him, and also telling Moss that if the deal is close, he'd like him to stay so they can keep building on what they've created.
Mike: of the Pats draft picks from 2009, which ones have the most to prove this year?
I'd say Ron Brace. Defensive lineman drafted 40th overall played just 50 snaps last season.
Doesn't Hampton's deal really help Wilfork? If Hampton can get 3 years $21M and $11M guaranteed, Wilfork should be in the range of 5 years, $45M and $25-30M guaranteed.
I think you nailed it Bill, but my sense is that I wouldn't be surprised if the Patriots are willing to do that.
Mike, the 2010 draft is being touted by some as one of the best in recent memory mainly due to the influx of quality Jr's that came out. With that being said would it only make sense for the patriots to consider using their #1 next year (from Raiders) to make a big splash and possibly acquire another 1st rd pick this year? I realize the rookie wage scale will be changing but whats more important, getting the best player(s) possible or the Kraft's bottom line?
So the idea would be to trade the 2011 first-rounder and another 2010 pick (probably a fourth-sixth round pick) for a 2010 first-rounder? If the right player is there, it wouldn't be a shocker. But my sense is they keep that pick.
How does the signing of Patten effect the possibility of trading for Branch? Would BB be wary of signing to many risky old WRs, or does all the youth they have at that position (Edelman, Tate, Slater, etc.) allow for the old band to get back together?
I don't think it will have an impact Al. If the Seahawks were willing to trade Branch for a seventh-round pick, and Branch was willing to negotiate his contract down, I think the deal is done tomorrow.
What's the latest on this blockbuster trade spec ~ Randy Moss to the Cowboys for Austin Collie??
Sounds like the thought would be Moss to Dallas for Miles Austin. I haven't heard anything about it.
Hey Mike. Saw earlier that many second round selections this year would be equivalent to first round picks in other years due to the deep draft class. Also read that picks are further values this year because of the paucity of free agents. With that in mind, could we see a typical BB type trade of a 2nd rounder for a future 1st next year? Or would having three firsts next year just be "outlandish?"
Those are trades the Patriots usually make if they are available, Gideon. I think the key consideration will be if there is a player on the board in the second round that they want more than that 2011 first-round pick. Too hard to project right now.
Let's go for another 5 here, so I can get back to combine duty...
how should the patriots go about filling in for their needs in defense and also WR and RB.
Usually what the team does is sign a few free agents to give them some more flexibility on draft day, so then they aren't boxed in during the draft. I think they can address RB in the draft. Another veteran WR wouldn't surprise me.
What are the odds the Pats pursue Brandon Marshall? Is the asking price really just a 2nd rounder? The Pats have three 2nd rounders. He would be a great replacement once Moss is done in NE.
I'd rule it out Tony. Marshall and the Broncos have had their share of problems behind the scenes. That's a headache I can't imagine the Patriots considering.
Great job as always, Mike. Do you see the Pats taking a shot at drafting an outside linebacker to rush the passer early in the draft this year? It seems like they only draft edge players in the later rounds and they never seem to pan out.
I do, but I don't think it's a given. Mike Mayock of NFL Network said there are anywhere from 15-18 conversion type defensive end/outside linebackers for teams to evaluate, and they all have quality.
Hey MikeWho is a better option at this point for a possible replacement for Jarvis Green...Mike Wright, Ron Brace, Myron Pyor, or a new drafty
I view Wright as a nice fourth lineman, someone who can fill in for a short period of time and get you through an injury, but who would wear down as a full-time starter. I also see Pryor as more of an inside player and not a natural fit at 3-4 end. So by process of elimination, Brace would be the pick, assuming he progresses.
I realize Asomugha has a pricey contract but everyone would agree he is one of the top 2 CBs in the game and at such a vital position, dont you think acquiring him could really solidify our defense and make a run at the Super Bowl? Would you call Al Davis and inquire into his availabilty?
It's interesting, Frazier, because I think he is very good. But I don't think he's worth his contract and I wouldn't acquire him because of that. I remember that game against the Raiders in 2008. I thought the Patriots got after him pretty good.
With the passing of one of the Patriots all time fan favorites in Mosi Tatupa. I was wondering if you could ask the Patriots to do some kind of tribute at the Patriots Hall of Fame. Once moose always a moose.
Hopefully they'll be reading this chat David.
Hey Mike, do you buy into the idea that because Brandon Graham doesn't fit the patriots size requirements for linebackers there is no chance they'd take him because he won't be ranked highly on their board due to his size....? How much do these ideals play into decision making?
That is a significant consideration and one that deserves to be analyzed thoroughly. Are the Patriots too set on certain measurables? Or should production trump that in certain cases like Graham? They need to be able to project that a player will fit in their system and that's why the measureables are part of the assessment. As an OLB in the 3-4, those long arms and height are important when going up against big offensive tackles.
is shawn crable ever going to live up to expectations? and what are the expectations for tyrone mckenzie? i think having mayo and guyton inside the presence of veterans on the outside would be better than drafting rookies and throwing them in the mix.. what are some free agents OLB you could see coming to the team?
Tough call on Crable, Joe. He has to stay on the field first. On McKenzie, I sense some positive momentum building with him after speaking with him last week. He needs to prove it now. As for free-agent OLBs, Jason Taylor, assuming he comes back from shoulder surgery, would be one name that comes to mind.
Do you like the NFL or college football better?
Let's end on this one. I lean heavily toward the NFL. I appreciate the spirit of the college game, but I like the high level of play in the NFL better. Both are great, but I find it easier to follow the pro game.
Thanks to everyone for chatting. Wish I could have gotten to more questions. Let's do it again next Thursday.