Good afternoon from Indianapolis and the NFL Combine.
Starting at 10 a.m., there has been NFL coaches/executives holding press conferences every 15 minutes. No Patriots staffers are scheduled to speak. As a reporter covering the Patriots, but with an interest in the overall NFL, this is the place to be.
In two hours, I feel like I've already learned a lot. As the week progresses, I look forward to speaking with more prospects. At this point, only Oklahoma State kicker Dan Bailey has come into the media interview room.
Hi Mike I'm wondering if you might answer my question for my birthday today. If there is a season next year what does the Pats schedule look like home and away? I'm thinking of travelling to SD or DEN. Thanks
Happy birthday, Har. Hope it's a great day for you. Here is what you are looking at: HOME -- Jets, Colts, Chiefs, Giants, Chargers, Dolphins, Cowboys, Bills. AWAY -- Steelers, Jets, Eagles, Raiders, Dolphins, Redskins, Broncos, Bills.
Do you see NE with there first 3 picks addressing DL, OL, OLB in that order?
Logan, I would rate those as the top needs, and I could see the first round unfolding just like that based on where the depth/quality is in the draft. A lot will depend on what happens in front of the Patriots' picks, but this progression makes a lot of sense to me.
With the obvious need at a pass rusher, o-linemen and a possible deep threat, what would you say are the biggest needs for the 4th-6th rounds of the draft?
Shane, usually when you get to those rounds, the prospects have one thing they can do that could really help a team, but there are more noticeable weaknesses. So special teams value becomes important. I could see the Patriots trying again with a long snapper in the 6th if they felt the top guy was worthy, similar to Jake Ingram in 2009. Maybe a developmental quarterback. Overall, I think at that point they focus on the best players regardless of position.
Hey Mike, Do you think that the pats will make picks at #17 and #28 then trade the #33 for a 2012 1st round pick.
That scenario makes some sense, Monte, although I read SI.com's Peter King thoughts this week that the Rams thought they would have stronger interest in that top pick of the second round last year, but they didn't feel they were being offered great value. I think the big thing on that one is if a QB is still there, and a team needs one, it would increase the value of the pick.
Mike, people keep suggesting that this hip surgery is probably what caused Aaron Hernandez' snap count to drop as the season wore on, but his PT diminished significantly starting vs Pitt and that was well before he showed up on any injury report. Do you think it can be more attributed to his incentive heavy contract that is based on performance and playing time knowing the Pats frugal nature? Thoughts?
Not at all, Tim. My hunch with Hernandez is that it is tied to route-running. One thing that stands out to me in the NFL is how everything has to be so precise and how one false step, or one mis-step, can throw everything off. The reason I mention that is because I noticed Tom Brady and Hernandez walking off the field several times after drives ended, and it seemed to me that Brady was looking for something more specific from Hernandez. This is more of a hunch on my part, as I have not confirmed that to be the reason for Hernandez' drop in playing time.
Mike,I was looking at Don Banks mock draft and like a lot of others he has the pats picking a WR in round one. I know you've touched on this but it drives me crazy when national reporters see we don't have Randy Moss or any big name receivers. Maybe they have not heard much of Brandon Tate or Taylor price, but I think Tate could turn into the "burner" we could use and Price, maybe down the road a bit, could be a very sharp and physical receiver. Thoughts?
Chris, I'm with you. I don't put WR as a top need. With Branch and Welker in the last years of their contracts, there could be some thought of adding there, but I'd be surprised if it's a first-round pick. I think this is a case of some reading more into one game (playoff loss to the Jets) than the overall body of work from the 16-game regular season.
How many players do you think the pats end up actually drafting?
Mike, who are the Offensive Linemen do you want to see the most of besides Pouncey?
Glenn, I'm locking in on more of the interior linemen. While this appears to be a deep tackle class, I view the Patriots as having a stronger need at guard/center. So Baylor's Danny Watkins, whose story reminds me a bit of Nick Kaczur's, is a player I'm interested in speaking with. Also, Penn State center Stefan Wisniewski. Having spent some time with Temple DL Mo Wilkerson, he mentioned how strong Wisniewski was. Maybe a center for the future?
Hey Mike, we hear a lot about guys the Patriots have found in lower rounds and how they find value in guys that are not necessarily work out warriors. In contrast, from your interaction with the team, who are the work-out freaks/ ridiculous athletes that the Pats have? For instance, I hear Butler is crazy athletic.
Kyle, when it comes to Butler, I was wowed by his athleticism when I watched him in a charity basketball game last spring. He jumped out of the gym. Gary Guyton would be another one. He was the fastest LB at the combine in 2008.
Hey Mike! I was wondering who are some of the offensive linemen on the Patriot's radar. Also, I was wondering what are the chances the Patriots use their 17th overall pick on the defensive line and let Jermaine Cunningham take the second leap. J.J Watt comes to mind at that position., but who else would fit the Patriot system at D-end?
Brandon, the one offensive lineman I think will interest the Patriots most is Mike Pouncey, the Florida center/guard. There are obviously others, but I think they liked Maurkice Pouncey last year (Mike's brother), and the two have some obvious similarities. As for the DE position, Watt would be a natural fit as a 3-4 defensive end. The question is if he will be available to pick at No. 17. If not Watt, prospects like Cameron Jordan, Cameron Heyward and Corey Liuget are part of what is considered a deep group.
If you take a look at the Patriots list of LBs none of them fit the Patriot prototype that we are all led to believe makes the Patriots system different than all the other NFL teams. We are led to believe that the Pats look for a specific size of 6?4? 265 but no one on last year?s roster meets that ? Nink, Tully or Cunningham (all around 6?2? 255), the exception being a fringe player Eric Moore at 6?4? 268. I think we need to throw out this conception that the Patriots have a set OLB prototype because the roster doesn?t reflect this. Maybe they have a preference but clearly they have become more flexible in their prototype.
Fair point, Eric. More than anything, I think the preference is to find that 6-5, 265 pound guy who runs a 4.65. They are rare. Probably most what the Patriots are looking for is a well-rounded player who can be strong against the run while also rushing the passer. Those are also rare.
Can brandon tate make that jump next year and become a factor at WR or is he just going to be a explosive KR
I thought Tate was a Jabar Gaffney type factor at WR in 2010, so my question is can he become a No. 1/2 type factor at the position. I don't know, Ryan. But I think it's too early to close the book on the possibility. That's something to consider in adding a veteran like Randy Moss, Steve Smith etc. It could block the development of a player like Tate.
Going into next year do you see the pats hopefully with another good draft being a contender for the superbowl.
Yes, I do.
Mike there are three very good skill position players that are going to be free agents: Pierre Thomas, Deangelo Williams, and Sidney Rice. I would love to see any of these guys in a Patriots uniform, especially Rice. While I don't believe the receiving corp is in NEED of an upgrade, I do believe he could substantially improve the offense. Could you offer your opinion on each of these players and the likelihood Belichick will bring him in?
Of the three, Jason, I think Thomas would have the best chance of landing here, and I say that with finances in mind. I think Williams and Rice are going to be a financial level that the Patriots won't want to pay. They would be explosive additions for the Patriots, and 31 other teams. The question is cost in my view.
life long fan and season ticket holder here, how scary will our defense be in a couple years?
Josh, I see promise, but they really need that pass-rusher in my view. But with Wilfork, Mayo, McCourty and maybe Chung, that's four really promising/standout players to build around.
Hey Mike, I've been wondering for awhile where I would end up. Any chance I fall to the Patriots at 17? I would love to play for Bill I think I would fit really well under their system.
JJ, I enjoyed watching your segment on SportsCenter the other day. This is a deep DL class and I think you'd be a natural fit at RE in the Patriots' 3-4 defense. I just don't think 16 other teams are going to pass on you at this point.
when do we find out about compensatory picks? 5th round pick for Watson?
Nate, those compensatory picks should be awarded in March, possibly March 20-22 at the NFL owners meetings in New Orleans.
Hi Mike. Who have the Patriots sent this this year's Combine?
All coaches were expected to be here, from my understanding. Perhaps more importantly, team doctors, too, as physicals are a very important part of this process.
Hi Mike, I believe (as has been stated in some articles) that the Pats have too many of the same kind of WR (the dink and dunk type) and not enough explosive downfield presence. Who do you think they might target for a WR if they also have that mindset that the need a big play WR to help everyone else out underneath. Thanks
Matt, if it's a veteran, I like Steve Smith (Carolina) as an option on a 2- to 3-year term. In the draft, I heard analyst Todd McShay note that the good value is in the second-third round area. As for specific prospects, I am hoping to have a bettre grasp after the Combine. One intriguing small-school prospect who interests me is Mount Union's Cecil Shorts.
Hi Mike - Thanks for the good work! Is it worthwhile to speculate on possible trade partners for any of the Pats draft picks? Seems to me that BB puts more into maneuvering on draft day to get the players he wants at the right value. BB commented that they have already had inquiries about trades. Have you heard any possible scenarios? I think it unlikely they will use all 6 of the picks in the first 3 rds and will continue to trade into future drafts.
Bruce, I haven't heard any scenarios or specific teams, but here is one thought that comes to mind: You're at No. 28 and teams in need of a quarterback still see Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett on the board. Do they come back in to acquire the pick for a franchise QB? That's what I'd be keeping an eye on.
How likely do you think Mankins is to sign his franchise tender? I noticed that other players in the same situation are planning to do so as it would give them some stability in a potentially unstable lockout situation. Do you think he will do the same?
My hunch is that he won't sign the tender, Alexandra. He had told the Boston Herald he didn't want to be franchise-tagged, so my thought would be "Why would he sign it?" But your point about the unstable lockout situation is a good one. Maybe that alters the equation. But if I had to guess, I'll say he won't sign it.
mike,did you see the piece on nfl.com by michael lombardi that said that teams should try to trade for Brian Hoyer instead of Kelvin Kolb? This seems very encouraging for the Pats and the future of the back up QB. Guess the whole league feels highly of him
I did see that piece, Cory. That's one opinion, and I was interested in it because I think Hoyer has worked extremely hard behind the scenes, yet you don't hear many analysts mention him in the backup QB discussions. I'm not sure that means the whole league views him highly, but it's a sign that at least some are taking note.
Mike, do you think the Pats will trade up in the first round? I like A.J. Green, and some mock drafts have J.J. Watt going early. Both seem like they would be good fits. Thoughts?
Yes, Erich, that wouldn't surprise me if the Patriots are on the move in the 10-15 range if they feel strongly about a prospect. They have the ammo to move. I don't think they'll go WR, but Watt looks like a player who would fit their scheme -- and an important need -- very well.
Hey Mike i was wanting to get your take on the patriots drafting Mike Pouncey. I feel with his versatility in being able to play guard or center he would be a great draft pick.
Agree completely, Michael. Last year, I thought Maurkice Pouncey was one of the safest picks in the draft. I would put Mike Pouncey in the same category. Day 1 starter at G and your possible C of the future. My question is if you don't take him at 17, is he there are 28? He might not be.
Mike, I will blow up my TV if the Patriots do not draft (or worse trade the pick) a pass rusher with the Raiders 1st round pick. Should I be price shopping for a TV?
Dan, my advice is to hold that grenade until after the second round. If no pass rusher by that point, fire away!
Hey Mike - Cam Jordan seems to be a favorite pick amongst the "Draft Experts," but I still fail to see how he is a better fit in the Patriot's defensive scheme then Muhammad Wilkerson. Jordan might have the height, but he is listed at about 285, where as Wilkerson goes about 6'5" 305. How do you see it? Thanks...
Great thought, Greg. I want to get a better feel on Jordan's measurements here at the Combine. My view is that Jordan is a bit more polished as a player at this point. Wilkerson has some good things going for him -- played in the 4-3 his first two years at Temple and then was at DE in the 3-4 last season. So that should make the projection easier for the Patriots. Jordan also played in the 3-4.
Mike, should Pats fans be worried that some other tagged guys have indicated they will sign their deals, but Mankins has been silent? Does it signal another hold out, or do you think he just wouldn't address the tag at all while working on a long term deal?
Hoping to hear more on Mankins' mindset here at the Combine, Brad, as his agent, Frank Bauer, might be here for the annual NFLPA/agents meeting. I wouldn't read much into it at this point.
Mike, what grouping are you most looking forward to see?
DL and OLB.
Hi Mike. Do you think it would make sense to trade Mankins for a first round pick? Maybe to the Steelers? It would enable the Pats to trade one of their picls for another firts rounder next year and they can still draft a good OG.
Pierre, I think they would consider it, but there are a few factors in play: 1) Players can't be traded without a signed contract; 2) Trades after March 4 might not be allowed if there is not a new CBA; 3) A team acquiring Mankins would not only have to fork over the first-round pick but also a big contract. With all these factors in play, I just don't see a trade as a likely happening.
Hi Mike, there's been a lot of different mock drafts going around and no one seems to agree. I've seen linemen on both side of the ball, WRs, RBs, and OLBs going to the Pats in the first round. Does this indicate that the Patriots have a lot of areas to improve upon or that they're a well-rounded team looking to fine tune areas?
Andy, I wouldn't read too much into the mock drafts. I think one of the commenters on the Patriots blog on ESPNBoston.com nailed it -- Part of the fun of these mock drafts is to get familiar with the players and know the range in which they are projected to be selected. Other than that, this is a guessing game at this point.
Mike, do you think Robert Krafts comments about the gameplan against the Jets are a sign of growing impatience with Belichick? Could this lead to future trouble?
I didn't see it that way, Eric. I thought the fan in Kraft came out. I think he knows he has a top coach and is fortunate for that.
Hi Mike, I know the Pats have Woodhead but I'm thinking that a guy like Ol' #33 would be a good guy to have on the team in case Woody gets hurt. They had five backs on the squad last year so I don't see why they couldn't do it again this year. Thoughts? Also, what do you think of the Pats signing Ricky Williams to a incentive type contract?
Paul, in the end, it comes down to the value of roster spots. If Faulk is just going to be insurance for Woodhead, does the team really want to take up a precious spot that could be used to groom a young receiver, or a young quarterback? These are often tough choices. My hunch is that it will be Green-Ellis, Woodhead, a draft pick, and a free-agent signing like Williams/Pierre Thomas rounding out the backfield.
Which OLB or DE/OLB hybrid best fits Belichick's system?
Still working on that one, Kevin, but when I asked the question to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, he thought UCLA's Akeem Ayers made a lot of sense at No. 17.
Hey Mike, always great to hear from you. As the draft approaches I can't help but think about our concerns. The closer we get the more I think we still have some serious offensive concerns. I think our running game is good, not great, but effective. How much can we expect from Branch, and I really do not see a future in Tate or Price. Our defense is good especially with a few more years under their belts. I think we should go for OLB and OL first but I do want to see some big moves in either WR or RB. The loss to the jets in the playoffs seemed to lie more on the offense than D. Agree?
Jake, I think it's a quick decision on Tate and Price. I believe they deserve more time to develop. In doing some research over the last few weeks, the story of Nnamdi Asomugha comes to mind. He was not very good his first 2-3 years in the NFL. Now he's an elite CB. Asomugha might be the best example of the importance of patience. I thought Price flashed some promise in that season finale. As for the RB group, I do think we'll see an addition there, certainly in the draft, and even possibly in free agency as well.
Mike, I'm out to prove to everybody that I'm more than just a D-Lineman. I'm athletic enough to play OLB. I can even be the elephant. What do you think?
Wow, Cam. That would be something. At 285 pounds, if that's your accurate weight, it would be impressive to see you dropping back into coverage ona regular basis. I'm not convinced that's the best fit for you.
This whole nonsense of needing another WR to take the top of the defense is ridiculous. We never had a vertical threat when we won 3 championships. Gronk and Hernandez running seam routes is enough to open up the middle. We need a monster DE to fill in for Seymour. Having a guy like that makes a Tully Banta Cain or Jermaine Cunningham ten times better. Anyone in the draft that looks to be that guy?
I lean toward your line of thinking MarkP. J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, Cameron Heyward, Mo Wilkerson and possibly Corey Liuget are a few names to keep on the radar. I've heard a lot from NFL executives on the strength of this DLine class today at the combine.
Hey Mike, what do you think the chances are the Patriots trade up or down on draft day? They have been active doing so in recent years.
I expect it, Roger. There are few givens on draft day, but one of them seems to be that the Patriots will be making trades.
Mike, I've heard reports that Mike Pouncey is a poor man's version of his brother. What are your thoughts? If the Pats draft him how much would it because he is riding the successful coattails of Maurkice?
Bob, I've heard those same thoughts from draft analysts. If the Patriots draft him, I think it will be on his own merits and not because of the link to Maurkice. I think Mike is a different type of player, a bit bigger. That actually might be a better fit for the Patriots with the big 3-4 NTs in the division.
Mike, what are the chances of Nnamdi Asomugha coming to NE?
I'm thinking extremely thin, TJ. I just don't see the Patriots investingbig bucks in that.
How much say/power does Kraft have when it comes to the draft or does he leave it all up to BB?
My sense is that Belichick has final say on the players, and Kraft manages the economic side of it. So if Belichick wanted to move up for a player, Kraft might ask about the value of making such a move.
Mike, I'm praying the Pats take me with the 17th pick. I would light it up against all those 7 man fronts I would see. Our offense would be explosive. Isn't that better than drafting another WR?
Mark, good luck at the Combine. If you're there at No. 17, and the Patriots think they can address DL/OLB/OL needs elsewhere, I could see it happening. I'm not a fan of drafting a WR that high.
Regarding Hernandez' PT, can't we just look at the related snap counts (using the info you all publish) to get an idea of what may have happend? In the first half, BJGE played in 33% of the snaps and Faulk/Woodhead played in about 43%. This suggests a passing attack that suites Hernandez. In the second half, BJGE played in 51% of the snaps, signify a switch to the running game where Alge is the better option. Combine THAT with the injury and I don't think we need to look for conspiracies anymore.
Interesting theory T. I hadn't looked at it from that perspective.
Hi Mike, who are you most looking forward to seeing at the combine? Which of these guys might you like seeing end up in a Pats uniform?
Steve, another player is Aldon Smith, Missouri DE, possibly OLB.
What's up with all the talk about Meriweather not staying with the Pats?
Erich, Meriweather enters the last year of his contract, so perhaps it's tied to that. I think he will be here.
Sammy Morris was personna non grata in the RB department this year. Did you notice if he was a "special" special teams player?
I wouldn't say that, Borg.
Wes Welker contract year with his clone on the roster (Edelman). Is he traded for a pick or resigned for big money? I love him but we know Bill.. Financially makes no sense to sign him.. right???
I think he'll be re-signed, Lloyd, but the Patriots might view Edelman as leverage if things with Welker don't go smoothly in negotiations.
Let's go for another 5...
Do you think that you can gain a better understanding of the talent that is best suited for the Patriots from watching the combine?
Absolutely. It's an important part of the process. Looking at solely the combine, that's not enough. But I think the information is important. For example, I think this is around the time that Jerod Mayo starting showing up on their radar more in 2008.
Mike I've heard rumors about the patriots moving up in the draft to get A.J. Green any truth and do you think it could happen
I don't see it, Ryan. To me, that's just speculation at this point.
Mike...you need to do a better job providing links to your chats. Today, I had to go to your Twitter box to find this chat
Sorry about that Borg. I forgot to link it into my morning blog update. Usually I do that. Penalty: 5 yards for lack of linking.
Aldon Smith ... Aldon Smith ... Aldon Smith
You're great Nate. Thanks for keeping it lively. Appreciate your passion, and the others on this chat.
Hey Mike. The Patriots have a history of passing on Tom Condon's clients. Do you think this could come into play if J.J. Watt (represented by Condon) is available at pick 17? For instance, say Cameron Jordan is already off the board, but Watt is still available. With 5-tech being such a need, would the Patriots take the plunge on Watt or pass on him because of his agent?
One reason I think that might not be in play is because of a possible rookie cap/slotting system. It would open up new possibilities.
Hi Mike, what are your thoughts on Robert Quinn? Any chance he slips to #17 given that he didn't play last year?
Very risky, Andy. I'd tend to stay away because of the risk, but then again, the Patriots scored big with Rob Gronkowski last year and that was a similar situation (not exactly the same, but simialr).
Mike, if Pouncey or a 1st or 2nd best OLB is there at 17, who is your choice?
Tough one, Rick. Defense wins in my book.
Will you be at the combine all week ?What kind of coverage do you plan on providing?
Let's end on this one. Patriots staffers are not expected to be available all week from a media perspective. So my goal is to get to know the prospects a bit more and come out of here with a better feel for who might fit for the Patriots. We'll fill the blog and write relevant stories on the team (we hope!). Thanks for the interest.
Thanks to all for taking part in today's chat. Some great stuff. Back at it next Thursday. Now it's off to interview some more of these prospects.