Good afternoon. Thanks for joining the chat. Going to get one thing together and will be right back, ready to talk Patriots until 1 p.m.
I just don't get the Cunningham pick. His highlights show he has no edge move, but succeeded on inside rushes. I see a younger version of a 2009 Burgess...lock up the tackle and don't move...yawn...again
I wrote on Cunningham today on ESPNBoston.com, and to be honest Brad, I haven't seen him play very much. So unfortunately I can't add much insight at this point. The best I can do at this point is relay Bill Belichick's thoughts that he feels Cunningham is instinctive, tough and has good edge quickness. Let's see how it unfolds.
Am I the only one who doesn't believe that the TE group we have NOW is any better than the one we had last year? (Watson, Baker)? Unproven rookies and a washed up veteran to me are very hard to get excited about.
Let's toss it out there to the folks on the chat. My opinion is that this TE group has more upside. I really liked Gronkowski in the second round, while understanding the risk involved.
Hey Mike, are there any players who were available during Pats picks that you would've liked to have seen them take but they went elsewhere?
Nothing really stands out to me, Chris. As much as I'd like to be an expert on the college prospects coming out, I really don't have a great feel for most of them other than what I read from analysts. So I don't get too strong, from an opinion standpoint, on who they pass up. What I like to do is watch it all unfold and then analyze the decision-making based on actual results on the field.
Out of all the rookies, who do you see making the biggest impact year 1?
In all seriousness, probably punter Zoltan Mesko. It's the one position that we can look at and say decisively 'That will be filled by a rookie.' But since it's no fun picking a punter, I'd start at the top with Devin McCourty. I see him as a No. 2, 3 or 4 corner who is on the 45-man game-day roster and also making a mark on special teams.
Mike, connecting the dots here: Ryan Clady's injury...Josh McDaniels' offense...Matt Light's contract status...Sebastian Vollmer's emergence...trade? Am I crazy for considering this, especially considering the large number of trades that the Pats and Broncos have completed over the past year?
John, that is a pretty sharp thought. If I'm the Patriots, I'm still reluctant to trade Light because I think left tackle depth is extremely valuable. But if Denver is talking something valuable in return, I'd consider it.
Mike:In prior years the Patriots did not provide a list of the tryoutplayers. For the football nuts (like me) can you find out someof the names?
Will do my best Jim. Hopefully that comes into sharper focus tomorrow.
Now that the team building is 95% complete I ask, Are the Patriots Super Bowl contenders?
I say yes. Part of that is a projection when considering that there are 25 players from the last two drafts (including rookie free agent Brian Hoyer) still on the roster. But I believe in Bill Belichick's coaching and having Tom Brady at quarterback and a better locker-room mix makes me think this team will be in the hunt.
Hi Mike, I was just wondering if you would have any insight as to why the stories on Dez Bryant, Aaron Hernandez and Sergio Kindle didn't seem to break until just after the draft was done. Seems odd that none of it was reported before the draft and it all came out within a few days after the draft. Were teams successful in keeping those stories from getting out?
Glad you asked, Jeff, because it was something that stood out to me as well. First, I think teams, for the most part in the months leading up to the draft, were successful in keeping this information under wraps. Second, I think as the draft drew closer, I noticed some teams maybe being a bit looser with that information because their evaluation process was complete and their plans didn't include those players. Not sure that makes sense, but I thought the same thing you did.
Who do you see making more of a contribution this year Brandon Tate or Taylor Price, and how big will that contribution be?
I'd lean toward Tate because of two factors: 1. Already being in the system for one year, which gives him a head start; 2. His return skills.
Hello Mike,What's up with BB's fascination towards TEs? It's not like we use them much in passing game, rather used them as a glorified lineman. With all the draft picks that we have invested in the last decade on TE, we haven't seen a Jason Witten/ Dallas CLark/Chris Cooley like production from anyone. Personally, its a little hard for me to get excited about drafting a TE as most of the time, they just block.
I understand where you're coming from. The flip side is that part of the reason the TEs haven't been used in the passing game is that they weren't top-notch players in that aspect of the game. Gronkowski could be that type of guy. I believe 50 percent of his receptions went for 10 yards or more, which is an indication that he can get down the field.
I have to admit, I'm sort of a sucker for the big, powerful TE who can be powerful as a blocker at the line of scrimmage but also be productive in the passing game. Daniel Graham was one of my favorites in New England, and I always wanted to see him be more active as a pass-catcher. One of my favorite plays ever was his TE screen for what I believe was a TD against the Falcons early in his career.
On the TE question, I think that our current group is a significant upgrade. You upgraded at blocking TE with Crumpler over Baker (aside from the pre-season, Baker was not a pass-catching TE). You upgraded in pass-catching TE with Gronkowski and Hernandez because aside from week 1, Watson clearly could not get open. I know they are rookies and are unproven, but Watson and Baker were proven to be worthless. We have ZERO TE involvement in the passing game...it doesn't take much to improve on nothing.
Thanks for jumping in, Chris. Like to hear different opinions.
Mike,Any idea what uniform #'s the rookie's will be wearing?
We should know for sure tomorrow, Craig, but possibly later today. Sometimes those numbers aren't permanent, which is something to keep in mind. Because of the high number of players on the roster, we'll also see some rookies with duplicate numbers.
So, Belichick is filling Seymours space with a few castoffs from free agency. Didn't Baltimore roll over Greens and the Wrights of this roster?
Baltimore did indeed have success running at the right defensive end spot. That would be one area of concern right now as I look at the roster.
Don't you wish offseason was sexy like ours? Don't ya? Don't ya?
Rex, I just want to say that while I think team chemistry is going to be an issue for your team this year, I also think you're very good for the NFL. I appreciate that you bring a little fun to the table. Now I'm curious to see how the team responds when it's 0-2 after back to back losses at home to open the season against the Ravens and Patriots.
Hey Mike. First off, I am grateful for your frequent news updates because it's getting me through the off season. Now, I know everyone is saying the Jets are on the upswing and the Pats are going down. But I see it differently. Our secondary is loaded with young players with potential to be a tight unit. We have plenty of new wide receivers through the past couple of drafts. Our offensive line continues to be filled with players through the pipeline. We just drafted not one but, two pass catching tight ends, which I think sends a clear message about getting the posistion back into the game plan. Hopefully, our ILB hole will be filled with Tyrone, Mayo and Spikes. Next year can draft another OLB and a DE since we already have older DEs who can be subs. I think if the Patriots can be good in 2010, they have the potential to be great in 2011. What is your take on this?
My thoughts are summed up this way: The Patriots have made 24 draft picks the last two years, 11 of which have come in the first three rounds. They have five more picks in the first three rounds next year. It seems to me that if the Patriots are going to be an annual contender over the next decade, the 2009, 2010 and 2011 drafts are going to be the springboard. We are in the midst of a defining time for the team.
Mike, last season you quickly identified the talent of J. Edelman during rookie camp and were correct that he was a hidden gem. Who do you think will be that obvious stand out rookie at this season's camp?
Props for Edelman! I love it. Now I can tell the truth: I only liked him because he was my size.
That was a joke.
On a serious note, let's revisit this one after rookie minicamp to see if anyone stands out.
Mike,With all the traders that BB made, I'm just curious as to how the process is conducted? Do they let other teams know through a phone call that their pick is for sale? Or do team/s contact us directly? The process is extremely fascinating. Also, when a team deals their pick for extra picks, is it based on verbal commitment, or is there s written record? (eg. 22 pick for a 26th and a 4th rounder).
I am also fascinated with this process B Maddy. For the second year in a row, the Patriots made seven trades on draft-day. This year, the seven trades were a league high. Given the Patriots' history, I think most teams know that all their picks are seemingly up for sale. But in terms of specifics, I think the new draft format helped the Patriots in this regard, because they had more time to work the phones and let teams know about their desire to move picks before the draft started. I'm not sure I follow the last part of the question, but I'd imagine that everything has to be written and confirmed by both teams.
Mike, Keep hearing about Brandon Spike's slow speed in the combine. Why would the Pats draft a guy, that appears slow. Did he just have a bad day?. The Pats obvious saw something positive on film. I would think you would want a faster speed than he recorded at the combine. Just find it puzzling.
Another interesting topic. The Patriots have made a judgment that Spikes plays faster than his 40 time. They like his presence, toughness and leadership. Often times we hear on teams whiffing because they take a "Combine Wonder", a player who doesn't look great on the field but lights it up with all the testing at the combine. This is the opposite and I will never fault a team for trusting its eyes with what it sees on tape.
I like that they picked up a center to groom behind Koppen and Larsen sounds like a bull dog. How much is Scarnecchia involved in the drafting of players like Larsen and Welch who they spent 2 picks on??
Great point, Pete. Scarnecchia is intimately involed. I'd be surprised to learn that the Patriots would draft ANY lineman without Scarnecchia's endorsement.
Hello Mr. Mike. Greg Eastbrook wrote the following about BB accumulating draft picks: " In the strongest draft in recent memory Belichick traded down several times then concluded the draft having banked two first-round and two second-round choices for 2011. Even the squirrel who hides nuts for the winter eventually digs them up and eats them. When is Belichick going to use all these extra picks? Is he exhibiting some hoarding syndrome that should get him on Oprah? "I agree with him. We could have added another pass rusher, or at least a RB, or another WR. We keep trading for what? If we cannot find 'Patriot-like' talent in this deep draft, what makes BB think that there will be one in the next year's not so deep draft?
I respect different points of view, Sesha, and my counter to this thought is this: Belichick still made 12 picks in this draft. Part of the reason he was trading down is that he felt he could get the same quality of player by trading down, while also picking up something else.
I think That picking McCourty was ok, and can turn out better if he becomes a shutdown corner, but if Dez Bryant becomes the next Randy Moss I think the Pats will regret it especially if McCourty doesn't turn out. Your thoughts?
I think that is a fair way to analyze the Patriots' decision-making.
How much damage, realistically, could Adalius Thomas cause if he joined a division rival and explained the Pats defense? He has been around for years, but then again, BB has dealt with the departure of Larry Izzo to the Jets last year without too much of an issue.
I'd say minimal Chris. I've sort of cooled on that type of thing being a big impact over the last few years, especially when we're talking about one year to the next. When it's one week to the next week, that could be a little different.
Hi Mike,As you've previously mentioned, this year's draft needs to be viewed with last year's draft. When doing that, we've drafted in a way that meets most future needs. Three WR's, Two TE's, an OT and OG in early rounds with developmental OL guys in the pipeline. Two DT's (Brace and Pryor), three LB's, two CB's one safety and a backup QB they seem to like. Aside from RB, the Pats have met several needs via the draft. I understand people may be down on Brace, and uncertain about McKenzie and Tate's injuries, or Ohrnberg's "redshirt" year, but aside from maybe getting a second edge rusher and RB, they've met a lot of needs. How they pan out will be the test, but to say the Patriots have not drafted to replenish the needs of the roster isn't quite fair. Do you agree?
I agree Kevin. I think the biggest thing is that they didn't use their top pick to address their top need this year, and that's where some might have the holdup. But I agree with Bill Belichick when he says "You take the best player. You don't reach for a player just because it's your need." To me, that's a winning philosophy as long as your scouting evaluations are sound.
The position that I am most concerned about moving into the season is coaches. The Pats have lost so many over the last couple of seasons and I am not sure how I feel about having no coordinators. Although he may not have helped a few years ago, I really liked the idea of having an older special assistant on the staff like Dom Capers. Any older coaches out there that might come in and fill a similar roll with the Pats? Is Dick Jauron available? Even though his ego might not fit, what about a Brian Billick type?
Jauron is now with the Philadelphia Eagles, Jim Bob. As for the no-coordinator approach, I think they will have them, but just not in title (Belichick on defense/Bill O'Brien on offense). There won't be any internal confusion and I'd endorse the idea of Belichick taking a more active role with the defense. As for the veteran coaches, I think the Patriots have two very good ones in Dante Scarnecchia (o-line/asst head coach) and Ivan Fears (running backs). On defense, I'd put Pepper Johnson in the veteran category as well. I don't see Billick as a fit here -- that "kiss" from a few years back sort of seals it -- but I certainly think there are others out there if Belichick wanted to go there. I'd need a little more time to put a list together.
If we are in the midst of a rebuilding effort, where does Tom Brady stand in this when he is 35, 36? Should we get ready for a franchise and trade in 2011?
I'd expect him to sign a long-term extension that sets him up to retire a Patriot in 5-8 years.
Mike, I think one of the reasons fans are not big on the Cunningham pick is because the media did not focus on him much pre-draft. He missed the Senior Bowl
Good point, Tom. I was one of those media members who missed him too. I think after this year, no one will be overlooking any players from Florida and Alabama.
I would content that processing the play quickly is just as important as speed for an ILB. The quicker he diagnoses what's coming the better an possibly less speed he needs to get there. If BB determined he liked what he saw on tapes (and from Meyer)from Spikes from that perspective, I can see why he wouldn't care so much about a slow Combine speed.
I'd agree. The only concern, from my viewpoint, is does it limit your flexibility on defense? If an offense comes out with a spread formation and forces Spikes to play more in space, would the Patriots be vulnerable?
Mike, To start with, I get a little aggravated when people say "The Pats will regret not drafting so and so if he ends up being a star." That's such an obvious claim that's so easily refuted by saying "yeah, but if he's a bust" or "yeah, but if he's only okay." Its a two-way street. I for one love what the team did this year. We filled lots of needs defensively, got Brady some new toys on offense, and improved our special teams. And we grabbed more ammo for next year. I love it.
Fair counterpoint, Jon. I think the main thing is that when analyzing a draft, your judging the team's choices and what they passed up. I think that's what some mean when they say "If Bryant becomes a star ..."
Hello Mike. You said that BB traded down because he felt he could get the same quality of player at a lower point. The problem is that the quality of player at least to me appears to be average. When you trade up you have a much better chance of getting an impact player. By the way, do you still see chance the PATS may end up with D. Branch?
I'm not sure I agree, Tony. I could point to several times that teams traded up and the quality of player was not what was hoped for (e.g. the Jaguars and Derrick Harvey in 2008). I also think it's not a black and white type situation and every draft has a different personality. In some years, a player at 10 is similar to a player at 27. In other years, the drop off is steep and a player at 10 is significantly better than a player at 27. So I guess I think it's more situational than anything ... As for Branch, yes, I do think it's still a possibility. But he won't be wearing No. 83 if he comes here :)
Since the Pats really haven't added pass rushers, is (gulp) Derrick Burrgess a must sign now?
I wouldn't say a must-sign, Joe.
I looked all over.. there is not one person who picked McCourty for the Patriots. Worse than that, there is not one person who picked him ahead or in the same area where we picked, he was not even a first rounder in 90% of the mock drafts. Isnt that a concern or do we say our scouting process is better than everyone else in the world?
Ouch Karthik. That hurts. I had McCourty going 19 to the Falcons and had the Patriots taking CB Kareem Jackson. I'm not sure how the McCourty pick will pan out, but I can tell you that the small handful of teams/scouts I spoke with had a first-round grade on McCourty.
People love to hype up the Jets moves this offseason, Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie (gets beat more than Jenna Jameson), Brodney Pool, LT, Jason Taylor, Nick Folk - you know what they have in common: Their former teams didn't want them anymore...now all of a sudden their Champs??? Don't get it...Pats are still the team in the AFC East
We'll see how it all plays out, but I happen to agree with you, MJThrill. The funny part to me is that the Patriots almost benefit because the pressure of expectations won't be coming down on them.
Mike...question about Aaron Hernandez. There is a lot of excitement about him in regards to a 'move' type of TE, and he does seem to be very athletic....but didn't the Patriots have a similar opportunity with David Thomas? (lighter weight, good hands, move TE). Why would this play out any differently?
The first thought that came to mind, Scott, was that just because one player didn't work out doesn't mean the next one won't. I think every player, while maybe similar in style, has a uniqueness about him that will factor in to whether he succeeds or not. In terms of Hernandez, he's athletically and production wise better than a fourth-round talent. But it was the complete package, the off-field concerns, that dropped him there.
Mike - Isn't this Maroney's last year under contract too? If so, that's 4 RBs that are up after this season correct? I'm assuming BB will address that in next year's draft with 4 picks in the first two rounds...
A lot will depend on the new CBA. If the current rules stay in place, Maroney would still be under the Patriots control for one more season.
In Tuesday's mail bag you projected the starting line up. I noticed you had Matt Light at LT and Vollmer at RT. Wouldn't the best thing for the team be Matt Light at RT and Vollmer at LT, and isn't Matt the type of Patriot that would do what is best for the team?
Bill Belichick actually made the point last season that Light is really best at LT and when they tried him at RT, it wasn't a fit.
Mike, people are up in arms over the Pats not picking up a pass rusher. Is it possible that there is information the patriots have that we don't that explains this (for example, that Shawn Crable is totally healed and they believe based on his practices before his injuries and his knowledge that they see in meetings etc that he is likely to be an effective pass rusher for them this coming year)?
Sure, that is possible, Seth. My only caution to them on that point is that relying on a player who has had two season-ending injuries the last two years is risky business. Also, I'd add that the Patriots did pick up a pass rusher (Jermaine Cunningham in the second round).
Hi Mike, any chance the patriots take a flyer on Jamarcus Russell and then trade him in a couple of years? I know Jamarcus has been a huge bust but he does have a huge arm and may do well in a structured environment learning behind Brady.
I guess you can never rule it out, Gavin, but I'll say no. The first reason is that I think they are very high on Brian Hoyer. The second reason is that it takes a certain type of player to succeed in the Patriots' program and, solely based on what I read, I'd have my doubts Russell fits the bill.
can you shed some light on whether Aaron Hernandez violated the substance policy all the time or just once? I am confused...
The thing I feel most comfortable saying about the situation is that some teams had concerns with Hernandez from an off-the-field/social perspective and they dropped him on their draft board because of it. As for the number of failed tests, I take Hernandez at his word that it is one. At the same time, it's important to understand that there could be loopholes in Florida's policy that make it so Hernandez could have been a multiple-times violator while only failing one test.
what is your opinion of the logan mankins situation? will this holdout end by a new contract in place? or will a deion branch thing happen and he gets traded? or a asante samuel thing happen that he comes back for 1 year and leaves the next.
Don't have a great feel on this one, Danny. If I had to guess, Mankins will be here playing, whether it's on a one-year deal or a long-term deal.
Mike, I have hears time and again that the Patriots had at least three guys they were willing to take in the first round. Do you have a guess of who the other two players were?
My guess would be Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews and Florida C Maurkice Pouncey. I think they had others, too.
when Welker comes back there will be quite a logjam at WR: Moss, Holt, Price, Tate, Edelman, Aiken, Stanback and Welker they can't keep that many right? who are the odd men out?
I'm sure an injury or something else will sort that one out, Mike.
Mike, loved the draft overall for the Pats but my only gripe is with McCourty. I don't mind the position itself but "Special Teams player" is all I keep hearing about him. With the need for impact player this team needs, I would have thought they would've been more aggressive going for someone who will impact the team immediately. Thoughts?
Seth, I think McCourty is much more than a special teams player. Because he is excellent in that area, I think it's easy to think that's why the Patriots selected him. But it's more for his defense. He was probably the most physical corner in the draft in terms of jamming receivers and re-routing them, and also is a very strong player when it comes to run-force. I think his skills in this area are being undersold a bit. Think Ty Law.
When I say 'think Ty Law', I mean in terms of style of play. Law was more of a playmaker, but McCourty is faster than Law was.
Let's go for another 5...
The biggest problem with David Thomas was that he was stuck behind two players who were first round picks and entitled to start. Not playing Thomas over them was a mistake. He's going to have a productive career.
I agree with you, Nathan. I think the Patriots gave up on Thomas too early. At the same time, I do think it's important to point out that Thomas has landed in the perfect spot for him, in a New Orleans offense that fits him to a T. So I can somewhat buy the thought that maybe Thomas just wasn't the right fit for this system.
Mike, you ok?
I'm great Dennis. I was just taking a little extra time to answer that sensitive question on Hernandez.
In regards to Mike in (DC) - It was once and he didn't inhale. What's good enough for a President is good enough for a Rookie.- Persoanally sick and tired of these instances relfecting negatively on players.
Thanks for chiming in, Muckstar.
Mike,Will you be providing updates over the weekend on how some of the rookies look, I watched the rookie from Cal U of PA and he can fly on kick-returns
I sure will Chris and I hope you have a chance to check out the site at ESPNBoston.com. It will be nice to watch football again.
Mike- Pats vs. Colts- 3rd and 10 (or obvious passing situation) what guys do the pats have on the field?
Skill position guys: Brady (QB), Faulk (RB), Moss (WR), Welker/Edelman (WR), Tate/Holt (WR), Hernandez (TE).
Mike, I enjoy your insight and honesty. I don't understand the knock on Devin. I went to many Rutger games over the last couple of years and I have to tell you the kid worth the pick. I can see him being a number one CB in 2-3 years, not to mention we need his skills on the punting/return gain due to Wes being out.
Rick, I know I won't soon be forgetting the initial reaction to the McCourty pick. I was surprised at how negative it was, but I felt that night that the Patriots did the right thing in terms of taking their best player and not reaching for need. After speaking to some teams/scouts around the NFL, it reinforced to me that it was a solid pick based on the information that teams have right now.
Getting back at the Colts question, what do you think of the Colts actually coming back to New England this year? It's been a while and it could turn the tide in the AFC for homefield.
First time since 2006, and the Colts won that game. Remember the great Marvin Harrison TD catch in the end zone? I think that was the game. Naturally, it's an advantage to the Patriots to be home this year against the Colts. Tough spot for New England, with the Thanksgiving game just five days later.
Moss, Edelman, Holt, Hernandez, and Faulk
Love it, Nathan. We're talking football on April 29. The Patriots-Colts game is November 21. This is why covering the Patriots, and having these weekly chats, is so much fun.
Gronkowski reminds me of a young Shockey. Thoughts?
One thing that surprised me was that Gronkowski is only 20 years old. Very young from an NFL standpoint. In terms of style, Bill Belichick said his physical build is like Kyle Brady, almost offensive-tackle-like. In terms of playing style, the first guy I thought of was Heath Miller.
Much has been discussed regarding the Pat's draft, but one area I see a big improvement in is special teams. Most of these picks will do really well there. I think the Pats had a lackluster special teams year last year. Do you see the same improvement?
Good point, Jay. I think they got better on special teams in this draft, starting with Zoltan Mesko, the punter in the fifth round. Wouldn't be surprised if Taylor Price, the third-round pick, possibly helps them there too.
Is the Pat's draft room an emotional place when a target gets picked, or is it strictly business, and reassessing their next pick?
Let's end on this one, Chris. I heard Jonathan Kraft refer to the draft room as very quiet and business-like. In past years, the Patriots have shown some footage of the draft room on their television program Patriots All-Access. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a guest on that program. I am anxious to see this next edition of the show, which I believe will air May 1, to see if there is any footage of the draft room. Let's revisit the question after that.
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. Appreciate all the questions and tried to get to as many as I could. We will keep these chats going over the offseason, so hopefully those that don't get answered will ultimately be accounted for. We'll have coverage of Patriots rookie minicamp on ESPNBoston.com on Friday and Saturday. Thanks for following along.