Good afternoon from Gillette Stadium.
Just finished up a few interviews this morning at Gillette Stadium with Brian Hoyer and Gary Guyton. I am impressed with Hoyer and his competitiveness.
The questions have flowed in today. Let's plan on making this an hour-long chat and get to as many questions as possible.
Do you think that Tim Tebow would be a perfect fit for the New England Patriots?
Chris, to me it would depend on what round we are talking about with Tebow. I think he'll be a first-rounder. I don't like the fit of Tebow-to-New England if we're talking first round.
Mike, it seems as though our luck has run out in finding a decent veteran wide receiver through free agency. Is that how it looks for you? and if so, in the draft do you think a trade up for Dez Bryant is possible or do you see the Pats taking Golden Tate?
I don't see many viable options in free agency right now, Cameron. I wouldn't rule out a trade possibility (Deion Branch). As for the draft, I don't think the Patriots will have Dez Bryant on their board. Golden Tate, on the other hand, I think will be a serious consideration.
Week 1- Will Dan Koppen still be on the team?
I think he will be Anthony.
Hey Mike, It seems in the 3-4 that the linemen are big run stoppers, there to eat up blocks from the Offensive linemen to free the linebackers and other play makers. Would it make sense to draft DTs to use as DEs? Or are they completely different? My thought is the Pats don't get a lot of production out of our ends (without Seymour) so why not just make them as big and as bad as we can? Thanks
That's pretty much the way it is, Zack. A lot of the 3-4 ends in the Patriots' system were tackles in college, like Richard Seymour and Ty Warren. The technique they play at end -- referred to as the 5 technique -- is similar to a defensive tackle.
I was very pleased when NE drafter Patrick Chung last year, but I was kind of disappointed that he wasn't on the field more. I know its tough having some solid players infront of him (McGowan, Sanders and Meriweather). How do you see him contributing this year? Do you see him turning into a full time starter? I like his energy and athleticism, hopefully it was just the rookie learning curve holding him back, but I'm excited to see him play this upcoming season.
He had 20 percent playtime by my count, Anthony, and I think we'll see that rise. The competition in training camp will dictate. I think Meriweather has one spot locked down. The other will feature some of the best competition on the team.
Hi Mike, What are the chances the Patriots could deal on of their picks to Denver in a trade for WR Brandon Marshall? No matter how anyone dices it, Marshall opposite Moss is a nightmare for opposing defenses and it also takes pressure off of Moss as you cannot double cover both deep WR's without getting burned in the middle. Moss as good as he is may not be here next season. Marshall would be a good veteran to get in here now.
I feel pretty confident that this isn't on their radar, Kevin. In an offseason where locker room chemistry has been a big buzzword, I don't see them coming close to touching Marshall.
Hey Mike, I have been waiting for the NFL draft since the end of the season and I was wondering if the Pats might take a cornerback to help out the secondary. I know that Leigh Bodden was a big contributor to the team last year but I feel like they still need a shut down corner. Is there anyone that the team might be able to get in the draft this year?
I'd be surprised if they go there with the top pick, Pat, as I think they have to feel good about a Butler/Bodden 1-2 combination. Springs and Wilhite give a pretty solid 3-4. So if they do it, I think second round would be the highest they go there. Chris Cook, from Virginia, is a CB on my radar for them in that area.
If the Patriots pick up a third round draft pick by trading back can they use that pick to sign a RFA during the draft itself? Kirk Morrison from the Raiders would look great in a pats uniform.
If I'm not mistaken, at that point the restricted free agent period is over. So they could possibly trade a third-rounder for Morrison, but the offer sheet wouldn't be an option.
It seems that whenever a new coach comes in to shake up an organization, he's switching over to the 3-4. When the Pats first won in 2002, the 3-4 was still seldom used and exotic. Has this shift in the league made it harder for the Pats to find defensive lineman and linebackers, especially pass rushers, in the draft? Or does each team look for something a little different for each position? Any other effects of the change?
Interesting point, Seth. I think there is certainly merit to it. More teams running the 3-4, more competition for players. Not all 3-4 defenses are created equal, but it's still more competition. I think it's 14 teams now running some version of the 3-4.
Mike, I was thinking that Belichick will sense a need to shift the focus of our offense. The Pats need to draft Pouncey with our first round pick and RB Mathews with one of the seconds, and play a more smashmouth style, freeing Brady to more play action passes, and thus control the clock. With our other 2 second round picks, get a D-lineman and a pass rusher, and start playing like we did in the early years of the decade - hard hitting defense and ball control offense, with the best QB in the league ripping defenses who put 8 in the box to stop our powerful running game. Your thoughts? Thanks, and keep up the great work!
I do think the offense will be more physical in 2010, Jeff, but I'm not sure that means they will necessarily become more of a running team. In terms of this scenario, I don't see Mathews getting out of the first round. But I like the overall thought process.
How many of the first four picks do you think BB will keep? With the break between the 1st and 2nd rounds, there's no way BB is just going to stay put, right?
Obviously difficult to answer without knowing which players are available, but if I had to guess, I'll say he'll keep 3 of the first 4.
Mike- who do you envision as the Pats 3rd QB; a veteran or a rookie they seek to develop?
Right now, I'd say a practice squad guy. I think they are high on Brian Hoyer as the No. 2 and last year about half the teams in the NFL went with just 2 QBs.
Hi Mike,I was wondering what your thoughts on how the Raiders trading for Donovan McNabb would impact the Patriots 1st round pick next year.Also, any truth to the rumor JaMarcus Russell came into camp weighing 290 lbs and is considering a move to DE?
Not sure on Russell, Big Smooth, but I think if McNabb goes to the Raiders they become a 7-8 win team and that 2011 first-round pick bumps down a bit.
Mike, can you speak to the Pats schedule this year. It looks absolutely brutal.
Definitely tough, Sal. One thing I believe in, though, is waiting to see when those games are scheduled, factoring in short weeks, bye weeks, back-to-back road trips etc. I do believe that when you play a team is almost as important as who you are playing. We should find that out later this month.
Hi Mike,Two questions for you. Who do you see us drafting to replace Seymour's empty spot on the line? And, do you see us signing or trading for any players that might fit in the way Dillon and Moss did?
This is a deep class for linemen, Adam, so I think we'll see someone within the first two rounds at that spot. I'm still learning more about North Carolina's Cam Thomas, but he's someone on my radar. As for the second part of the question, and trade possibilities, I think players like WR Deion Branch (Seahawks) and DL Adam Carriker (Rams), who have been the subject of trade rumors, would draw attention from New England if truly available.
Do the Pats seem more focused on the draft this year or is it just a case of more detailed coverage by sources like ESPNBoston? It seems like they are visiting and interviewing more players than in years past. Do you agree, and if so is it because of the new personnel/scouting on their staff?
Bill Belichick was asked this last week at the NFL owners meetings. He said it's the same approach/process as it is every year.
Who could legitimately tempt the Patriots away from either a DE or an OLB in the first round? My choice for first after seeing the clips and reading up on him is Brandon Graham, I just think he has some serious power and intensity that are desperately needed. If we got Brandon Spikes in the second to push Gary Guyton to 3rd down duty I would be ecstatic. There are a number of DE/OLB and DE's that could make an impact. I think if they get a tight end in the first I will scream and while there are a couple of O-lineman who are tempting I don't think the need is even close to what our linebacking/pass rushing corps needs.
I talked to a scout this week who doubts the Patriots would take Graham if available, because he is undersized in their scheme. Certainly will be interesting to see -- based on all the Graham hype to New England -- how that unfolds. I think the big thing is understanding how deep a certain position might be. If the Patriots feel like there isn't a big difference between the top OLB or DE and the fifth OLB or DE, they might see greater value in going with another position.
Hey Mike: on March 23rd you reported that a decision on Burgess was likely within a week. Do you have any idea how that is progressing? I am surprised he has not received any interest from other teams...hes not THAT bad given we traded a 3rd and a 5th for 1 year of his services...
Was planning on following up on that today, Freddie. Don't have that information, but I do know that as of March 23, the possibility of his return to New England was still alive.
I think the Pats best choice at 22 is Jared Odrick. Jarvis just didn't draw double teams the way Seymour did, which hurt the pass rush.But, any rumors on whether NE will try and package some picks to get another 1st pick this year for Brandon Graham? There's quality in the 2nd this year, but maybe not at the OLB/DE position.
George, there is debate among some scouts as to whether Odrick is a good fit at defensive end in the 3-4. It's a projection since he was a defensive tackle in the 4-3 at Penn State, so a decision like that comes with some risk. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff is on record as saying that he thinks teams can find a good DE/OLB conversion type in the second and third round, so this is a deep class.
I've almost given, up, but, Mike, which team could take AD for a draft pick?
Dorin dickerson to the pats?
Interesting possibility, Kyle, because he's not that traditional on-the-line type TE. Reminds me of Garrett Mills, an H-back type they drafted a few years back out of Tulsa (fourth round). I think he'll be gone in the second round and my sense is that might be too rich for them, but certainly worthy of keeping on the radar.
Hey Mike. With the addition of Crumpler, do you see the Pats still going after Greg Olsen or will they draft another TE? Also, what do you think of Jimmy Graham from Miami? He's a converted basketball player like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.
Graham is intriguing as an athlete, but I have to believe he's a couple years away, sort of like the Packers a few years back with Jermichael Finley, who came out early and didn't have as much college experience. I think the Patriots' possible interest in Olsen would be tied to what they pick up on draft day. We know Bill Belichick and Bears GM Jerry Angelo talked at the recent NFL owners meetings, but I'm not sure if Olsen was part of the discussion.
Do you think that Mardy Giliard would be a good option at wide receiver for the Patriots maybe in the 2nd round?
Gilyard has an inspirational story and after hearing it -- he was living out of his car at one point -- it's hard not to root for him. I can't necessarily put my finger on it, Danny, but something tells me he's just not the right fit for the Patriots.
Mike, you have been saying Tebow was a second round pick all offseason, why do you feel first round now?
After the NFL owners meetings last week, I heard Pete Carroll say first round. Then I read where Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said first round. You start to hear more of these high-powered NFL folks say first round, and I guess I believe it.
This isn't exactly a Patriots question, but why don't teams ask players to work out in pads? It seems that players perform different in pads then without. It just seems that say a RB would cut different if he had pads on. Please tell me if I'm worng and pads don't really make a difference
Probably the biggest thing, Bryant, is that it's hard at this point of the year to just throw pads on and be at a level where you would be during the season. It's sort of like a pitcher in spring training, building up his pitch count.
Mike, do you think there's even a 1% chance Bill would take a shot on free agent TO? TO & Moss together would be a handful for opposing DBs, even for just one year.
One of the things I've learned with the Patriots is to never say never. But for the same reasons I have strong doubts the Patriots would consider Brandon Marshall, I have the same feelings about TO. I know how much Belichick respected his performance in that Super Bowl, when he played injured, so that's the 1 percent I would hang on to in this scenario.
Mike, I know Maurkice Pouncey from Florida has been on the Pats radar for the 1st round. What's your take on him? Being a BC fan, I've watched him the past few years, and he is a beast. I believe the offense begins on the line, and he'd be a wise investment.
Safest pick in the mid to late first round in my view. Would be a great addition.
It appears the Bears are going to release Alex Brown. Would he be a fit to replace Jarvis Green?
Steve, I haven't seen a lot of Brown, but my initial sense is that at 260 pounds, he wouldn't have the bulk they'd want at that spot. Seymour was 300-plus.
Mike, I realy like Sergio Kindle of Texas, and think he would be a good pick for the Pats, but don't think he will be available at the # 22 spot. Do you see the Pats trying to move up in the draft by possibly trading the 22 pick and one of their second rounders and for a top 20 pick and a third rounder to go after him?
Dana, there are some conflicting opinions on Kindle among scouts. Some call him more of a finesse player, which isn't what the Patriots would want at that spot. Others view him as one of the best pure pass rushers in this draft. Belichick has some strong connections within that Texas defense, so he'll have the information he needs. My sense is that they wouldn't make that type of aggressive move.
Mike, clearly both Bill Belichick and Terry Francona are highly successful head coachers/managers. In your short stint covering the Sox, did you notice any similarities in their approaches? Also, is there any kind of "Boston Sports Manager/Head Coach club" where Belichick, Francona, Rivers and Julien meet up and chat?
I'm really fascinated by this stuff and was sort of studying Francona in that regard. There is just something about being in that position, as a leader of a team, that piques my interest. This is not anything revolutionary, but I sensed that Francona really thinks things through, accounting for all scenarios before making a decision and communicating it to players. That was something I could relate to Belichcik.
Hey Mike. I'm not sure why so many people are against the idea of the Pats trading out/down and I wonder if it's bc people don't understand WHY New England does it. It's not bc they are willing to get LESSER players for more picks or to spread out there draft, etc. In one of his few moments of candor, BB indicated a few years ago that, as their pick approaches, they'll have a group of players in mind. If they feel they can get the guy (or one of the guys) later while picking up more assets, they do. I would the depth of this draft lends itself even MORE to trading. Thanks.
Good point, T. The counter is that when we look at the history of the NFL drafts, and All-Pro players, I believe we'll see the highest percentage of those were first-round picks. I think there can be merits to both approaches based on what opportunities are there. My opinion this year is that critics are against trading down because they did so last year and the players taken in those spots were two of the most productive rookies (Michael Oher in Baltimore, Clay Matthews in Green Bay). That doesn't mean those players would have been successful in the NE system, but it's still a tough pill to swallow.
Hola Mike,I was hoping you would shed an opinion on Chad Jackson's recent signing with the Buffalo Bills. On today's Bill blog, they referenced Jackson's performance issues being more work ethic related than talent related. Do you have any sources from the Pats who have spoken with you about this in the past? Thanks
Hi Cousin Miguel. I never had anyone tell me Jackson's problems were work-ethic related.
Hey Mike... Are you big into April Fools Day? It seems like athletes are, by and large - what's the best locker room April Fools Day prank you've seeen?
Not an April Fools prank, but I think the best one was the story of how one player -- I believe Brady -- had his car filled with those styrofoam peanuts that are used for packing boxes.
Hi Mike, with Pats not naming an offensive coordinator, will Bill O Brien continue to call offensive plays this season? Our offense seemed shaky and predictable last season. Injuries to our players is also a reason for that. With two veterans backs, do you think drafting a RB will be a good start to establish a more balanced offense? If so, how it play out in the draft?
I think Bill O'Brien is a solid coach and he should be calling the plays again. I think the offense will be less predictable this season, in part because they'll have to be a bit more creative -- and establish a more physical identity -- without Wes Welker. As for the rookie running back, I could see it going either way. They have three backs entering the final year of their contracts (Morris, Taylor, Faulk), so there should be some thought to preparing for the future, but I think they can win with this group in 2010.
Mike, Everyone says that this is a deep draft. Can you tell us how many players grade out in the first round and at what positions are the deepest.
I wish I could Gerry, but for now, I can only place an educated guess. In 2007, I think the Patriots might have had 22 players with first-round grades. I will guess that number will come close to doubling this year.
Mike,Is James Sanders worth the 3 mil or so owed to him this season? He is good, but in no way solid. Seems like a steep price.
A fair point, pat31. In retrospect, the Patriots might feel like they were a bit generous on that deal. Seattle needs safety help. Maybe some interest there?
Am I correct in saying the Pats currently have no punter? With Kiper saying there is no worthy punters in the draft, where could the pats turn to find one? CFL, NFL Europe, some washed up Irish footballer?
Correct. In the end, my hunch is that the Patriots will sign a veteran and bring in a youngster. When they signed Chris Hanson in 2007, he joined the team in the week before the season, so I don't think there is tremendous urgency at this spot right now.
Hi Mike,I read yesterday that Jarvis Green knew his time was done in New England and wanted to be a part of the excitement Josh McDaniels brings to the game. Do you think this is a wide-spread feeling across the Patriots lockerroom, or is it more an example of Jarvis being happy with his super bowl rings from the past, and looking to have more fun as he moves into the second phase of his career?
I don't sense that feeling throughout most of the locker room. I just think Jarvis Green was ready for a fresh start and I also don't think the money the Broncos were offering hurt either.
Hey Mike,With Spikes putting up 'yawn' numbers at the 40 yards in Gator pro-day, do you think he will plummet to the late second/third round, and if so, should we trade up for him (depending on where he is at)?
I think they'll hold off there, with the idea that they already have Tyrone McKenzie and will want to see what he can do.
While I agree that McNabb to the Raiders would definitely improve their chances, thus lowering the 2011 pick for Seymour, I can't see Oakland making it into the playoffs, particularly over a team like San Diego, and possibly Denver - with KC seeming like they're at least headed in the right direction. That's not even considering the Indys, Baltimores, and NE/NYJ's of the AFC. So, at (Oakland's) best, I think it'd land that pick in the 11-20 range, which is considered the best economic landing ground, no? (All subject to change with a new labor agreement, of course...)
I'd go along with that Matt. I wouldn't go overboard on what a McNabb acquisition might mean to the Raiders. One day you get excited they might land McNabb. The next day you read they might trade Nnamdi Asomugha. When I see that, it makes me wonder if I would be qualified to run the Raiders.
Hey Mike,Any chance we take a shot at Myron Rolle in later rounds? BB loves smart people and it doesn't get any smarter than a Rhodes scholar! Also, many blogs are saying that McGowan was a bad apple in the locker room and maybe on his way out. Do you have any news about this? If it is indeed true, then we are one safety short and Rolle could fit the bill.
I don't see any reason why the Pats wouldn't consider Rolle in the late rounds, Mike. As for McGowan, I think Bill Belichick likes what he brings to the team. I sometimes wondered if his influence might not be the best for Brandon Meriweather, but I don't think he's a bad guy. I think the presence of safeties coach Corwin Brown might help that situation.
Let's go for another 5 here...
Assuming the Patriots use all 4 of their 1st and 2nd round picks, which I think they need to do, I think they need to come up with 2 front 7 players on the defense, a TE and either a RB or WR. These are areas that are deep in this draft, and they also match up with what the Patriots need. Your thoughts?
I could see that Kevin. Also wouldn't rule out interior OL depending on which way the board falls.
Hello Mr. Reiss,Appreciate the great work!General consensus is that we will take an OLB/DE with our 22 nd pick. Having said that, if a player like Spiller falls to us, and we have Kindle/Graham and Odrick available, which way would we go?
Think you'd have to go Spiller there. Stunning to see him fall to 22. Cue up the Belichick soundbite: "We never thought he'd be there."
Mike, I have to admit I've taken a break from the Pats boards of late, focusing my attention on the tanking Celtics and my embarrassing UConn Huskies men in the NIT. When I left off, fans were freaking out about so many Pats concerns, speculating whom we should after in the draft, and whether Belichick is spreading himself too thin. By the looks of it, not much has changed!It seems to me the big questions on offense are will the line be able to protect Brady long enough for him to hit his weapons, assuming we have some, and will we have enough of a running game to not be one dimensional? On defense, will Wilfork be enough to stuff the run so we can force offenses to pass and will our rush be effective (knowing a good rush can overcompensate for a less than stellar secondary, see Pats/Giants Super Bowl)?My gut tells me that we lost too many guys in free agency and didn't get enough quality back and the draft picks will pay off mostly 2-5 years out. Do you think our only option is, a Belichick has hinted, late trades after the first round of the draft?
Welcome back. I think this is fair, but I also think it's important to remember this picture we see now isn't what they will enter the season with. With no salary cap, more players are being kept by teams, even if those teams don't have plans for those players. So I see more opportunities ahead for the Patriots to add players. Another factor to consider is the improvement of young players already on the roster.
How do you envision Tyrone McKenzie fitting into the Patriots line backing core this season? I remember he showed some promise in camp before suffering a season ending injury and being placed on IR. I feel like he is the forgotten pick from the 2009 draft, with less fanfare than Chung and Butler? Thanks
I see him as the No. 3 option on the depth chart right now, pushing Gary Guyton for the starting role. Let's see how the competition plays out.
Mike, since this year's draft is so deep, do you think it is a better idea to get the most of it by using all 3 2nd rounders or it depends on who's there? Also, how come we haven't heard anything from Crumpler yet - seems so quiet...
They have enough needs to warrant using all the picks, Alex. Still, if a team is willing to offer up a first-rounder in 2011 for one of those 2s, I'd personally pull the trigger. As for Crumpler, he's "enrolled" in a six-week program with the personal trainer of Serena Williams down in Loiusiana. It sounds like he's really putting in the time.
With the talk about Crumpler using a personnel trainer. Do you think he can become an offensive threat that he once was? Or, is he limited to blocking duties?
I wouldn't count it out, Sully, because Jeff Fisher -- the Titans coach -- recently said he believes Crumpler still has some big plays left in him.
Mike, Robert Kraft has been very vocal this offseason in regards to his displeasure with the teama??s performance in last yeara??s playoff loss to Baltimore. Clearly there were issues on the field and in the locker room. There has been a drop off in on field play due to free agency misses and defections, injuries and poor drafting. Do you think Mr. Kraft has had some general philosophical discussions with Belichick in regards to his approach to team building? Not that I see him dictating changes to Belichick but maybe to help both of them take a different perspective on the big picture and re-think the paradigm from which they have been operating.
I do believe he had those discussions. I thin Kraft and Belichick maintain an open dialogue on that stuff. Kraft was very disappointed in that playoff performance and the lack of competitiveness. Like others, he wanted some answers.
Is there another team in the league that has had as much success as the Pats in signing undrafted free agents? More importantly, what do the Pats like about Hoyer? Why wasn't he drafted? What negatives caused him to fall completely out of the draft, yet he was the Pats backup last season? Is this just further proof that much of the draft is luck?
The Colts are excellent in that area too. On Hoyer, not completely sure but if I recall, his production might have dipped after a coaching/scheme change. Size also a consideration.
Moderator, I have been submitting questions the last 4 weeks and have yet to see one make to to Mike... what gives?
My apologies, Chad. I try to get to them all but can't. Also, it's possible I just might not have the answer.
Hey Mike, I very much appreciate those articles you wrote on me earlier. Finally catching some passes from Tom. In all honestly, what do you think all my chances are for making the final squad this year? I think my experience can help.
That's awesome. Let's end on this one from David Patten. Thanks for logging on and valuing my opinion. I think you're a longer shot, David. If the season started today, I don't think you'd be on the club. But a lot can change between now and then, so best of luck with it.
Thanks to everyone for chatting. For those New England fans, UMass offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse is chatting on ESPNBoston.com today at 1:15 p.m. Catch up again next Thursday.