Good afternoon. Welcome to today's Patriots chat.
I skimmed through some of the questions asked and it looks like a good mix -- some on the draft, some on players already on the roster, and some on Bill Belichick and an opinion piece I wrote about him skipping the coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meeting. Will get to as many as possible over the next hour or so.
The three days in New Orleans, from a reporter's perspective, were extremely productive. The chance to speak with owners, personnel executive and coaches -- while building new relationships -- is a great opportunity. I feel like I know more today than I did at this time last week and that's always the goal. Let's get to the questions...
Mike, how do you rank Hoyer as a backup? Could he do what Cassel did when he replaced Brady in 2008? Based on Belichick's actions, not having a veteran backup on the roster the last two years, it would appear that the team feels comfortable with him as a solid second tier QB. There very well may be worse QB's with starting gigs in the NFL today; I would say Carolina, Arizona San Francisco and Tennessee may all be in better shape with Hoyer on their roster. I don't think we really know that Kevin Kolb is any better than Hoyer.
Munchkin, this is a topic I just wrote about on the Patriots blog on ESPNBoston.com in the 11 a.m. hour. If Hoyer has a strong 2011 preseason, he's the next Kolb. I think it might be a bit premature to say he could command a high pick in a trade right now. Kolb has played a bit more, so there's more tape against top competition to analyze for teams. On a related note, I think the Patriots -- if the right opportunity is there -- pick a QB this year to groom in the pipeline behind Brady.
Hi Mike, did anyone at the meetings ask BB about Robert Kraft's comments questioning the game plan against the Jets? Thanks!
Mark, Bill Belichick was not asked about those comments in the time allotted for the interview. There were about 6-7 reporters there and time was short.
Hi Mike. I think that this year is right time for trade up and be very aggresive on the draft. What are we waiting for? Tom Brady won't play forever. He can win a couple of SB for us but we have to have allround team right now. I don't want to hear about how good our team is and how many picks we have next year anymore! I want to hear how great we used these picks. We can win a lot of SB in the future but only with Tom Brady. We just can't afford to wait. I believe that this draft would be key for our future. Next month we can already win some SB. What do you think?
It makes sense, Radim, but I think it's always a balance. You want to address the short-term but part of the reason the Patriots have been so successful is that they also don't turn their back on the long-term mindset. Their formula has worked.
Mike, as there is no CBA and the players have to work out themselves, I've heard that some of the players have been getting together to work out. Do you know which Patriot players are spending time together? Do you know if Tom Brady intends to workout with his receivers especially rookie TE's and WR's?
Lee, I'm not sure on Brady, but I would imagine he will get together with Welker on the West Coast at some point. As for players working out together, Rob Gronkowski is currently in Florida with Welker and some other defensive players. In Massachusetts, Jerod Mayo, Brian Hoyer, Mike Wright and Rob Ninkovich are a few guys working out together.
Thanks for keeping things going through the offseason! I know you have been lobbying for Cameron Jordan, but I just don't see it. I think at 287lbs he lacks the size Belichick likes on the line. I think the Pats will try to trade back a few spots and pickup Pouncey with the first pick and will wait for d-line. I know you leave the CBA commentary to the national reporters, but is Goddell really making $1 right now?
You could be right, Chains18. One NFL GM said in New Orleans that he views Cameron Jordan as the perfect fit for the Patriots. If not Jordan, he identified J.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward as the other ends to target early, in his opinion. I like what I've seen from Heyward. The same GM shared the opinion that he views Pouncey more as a guard than a center. That could affect his value if others see it the same way. On Goodell, yes, he has slashed his salary to $1.
Hey Mike, I have an idea to make the upcoming draft a little less awkward for both sides without robbing a draftee of that special moment in hearing their name called and standing on stage. I think the Commissioner should announce the draft has started and then have a former/retired member of the selecting team announce the pick and do the posing for pictures with the draftee. That way the kid is not shaking hands with the commissioner and ruffling the feathers of the current players, but he still gets to have his moment in the sun. And the league is happy because the player is there holding up his new jersey for the photo op. I know many former/retired players are still part of the union and may be a little apprehensive about being at the draft during the lockout, but this seems like a way that all sides can be happy. What do you think?
Interesting thought, James, and perhaps a compromise that would be considered. I think the point of the NFLPA*, however, is that the league is going to make a lot of money on this draft and why should they partner in that? I do think it's a mistake on their part, but I'm not sure the presence of a retired player, over the commissioner, would be enough to sway their thought process.
Hey Mike, what is your personal take on the whole Belichick missing the coaches breakfast? I know you said it's a sign of disrespect, but do you think he just didn't go or actually had something else to do that he doesn't care to explain?
Arjuna, I checked before writing the piece and was told he decided not to go. He was in the hotel and walked by the breakfast as it was taking place.
How long will Brady stay with the Pats?
Jack, he is signed through 2104. Assuming good health, I think he can play at a high level up that point and perhaps beyond.
Mike with the uncertaintly surrounding the Pats OL and no CBA do you think they will use the @17 pick on BC OL Castonzo if he's still available, or will they go for a pick on defense?
SteveB, I'd lean toward a defensive end, if the right fit is there. I also wouldn't rule out Mark Ingram if that is an option, or an offensive lineman. I think those would be the three areas I'd focus, with the pass-rusher probably coming a bit later where there is a little less risk involved.
Mike, if you could stop being a reporter for a brief moment, and just be a fan who a lot of people respect, sum up your opinion of the state of the NFL, as it stands today, in one word.
Thanks Aaron. "Crossroads" would be the word I'd use.
Hi Mike, What will happen in regards to the 2012 Draft if their is no 2011 season. Surely there will be double the amount of rookies for half the roster places?
Sam, I don't believe any decision on that has been made at this point because the intention is to play a 2011 season and have it be business as usual.
is woodhead the answers at rb
Absolutely Jack. He will be part of the mix. Very good player.
Mike - I found it interesting that you would write an opinion piece taking Belichick to task for missing a breakfast, but strangely, did not post an opinion piece on Kraft skipping out on labor negotiations to go on a meaningless trip abroad to cavort with a bunch of back-bench MA political hacks. Honestly, which is more important and why the double standard? Am I the only one that remembers Pete "Sunshine and Good Times" Carroll and would rather have a quadruple root canal than return a nice-guy coach that can't win. Give me Darth Vader and 14-2!
KTP, I view those as two different situations, with different circumstances involved. I do think Kraft should be held accountable for missing the negotiations. I think he has.
Looking back, do you think that you may have been a little extreme in your criticism of BB for missing breakfast? Mountain, meet molehill?
I felt strongly about it, and some head coaches did too. It's nothing personal against Belichick.
Hi Mike,, Was wondering who you think might be the most likely trading partners for the Patriots during the draft. And, if you were in charge for the day, would you tend to trade up or down in the first couple of rounds? Thanks for helping make this offseason bearable!
I'd start with the Chargers, Capetide, as they have five picks in the first three rounds. I think some of the Chargers' assets, potentially looking into 2012, would be attractive to the Patriots. The other thought is QB-needy teams, if a Locker/Mallett or someone else is available and the club views them as franchise-caliber.
Hey Mike, you mentioned that some of the Patriots players are working out together. Gronkowski said he was working out with Welker and some defensive players in Florida. Do you know who the others are?
Not sure Devin.
Mike: When making draft day trades do BB and the other party discuss or agree on who they will or will not take with the picks? Hoping it's Cameron Jordan @ 17 andOL stud next.
Steve, I think it varies depending on the relationship that Bill Belichick might have with the person on the other line. More often than not, I believe the answer is no.
hey mike. two part question about tom brady. why is it that tom brady isnt held with such high regard as peyton manning is? I mean peyton manning had taken a team from the cellar and turned them into a playoff machine and 2 years later tom took a 5-11 patriots team to the promise land as well. from those points on their careers are nearly parallel. In fact I think Brady has done even more with less on the offensive side with good but not great receivers apart from Randy Moss. Also with improvements on both sides of the ball, and perhaps the development of brandon tate, the most underrated WR in the league, how many more championships do you see tom brady retiring with? Be honest.
Jordan, I was interested to read the thoughts on Tate as being underrated. I'm not sure many in this forum would agree. I think he's still developing, but was a bit inconsistent in 2010. As for Brady, I see no reason he couldn't win another 1-2 championships as long as he's healthy. We know he takes good care of himself and with Bill Belichick as coach, there isn't a better QB/coach combo in the league in my view.
Any Mike Wright update?
MarkJ, he's doing better, working out and in position to be ready for the first day of training camp.
My feeling on the draft is that the Pats need to load up with those first 4 picks and not defer any of those into next year. Trade back a little for value but not out. While I agree that they can't make every pick this year becasue they can't all make the team, I'd rather see them defering 3's and 4's and going with quality at the beginning.
John, I think a lot of it is going to come down to opportunity. If a team puts together an attractive package -- a 3 this year and a 1 next year for pick No. 28 -- that's going to be hard to turn down unless they feel very strongly about a player available on the board.
Hi Mike,I don't think BB will take your advice and change his drafting style to select a specialty player like Ryan Kerrigan that would only be on the field for passing situations - at least initially. So, that being said, who in your opinion are the best OLB that can pass rush, defend the run, and drop back into coverage. I understand JJ Watt may fit this mold but what other names are potentially 4 down players at OLB?
You're probably right, Stewart. The more I talk to NFL folks, my sense is that Kerrigan might be too one-dimensional for Belichick's liking. So I think you look at Aldon Smith and Jabaal Sheard as possibilities. It's not as deep as I initially thought in this area when you take Kerrigan out of the mix.
Hey Mike, I just don't understand why it seems your throwing in the towel on Ron Brace. I think he did a much better job this past season just obvisoly needs to stay healthy an consistent.I just don't see them going after a 5 tech defensive end early, unless it's Cameron Jordan and it's because I see him as the Elephant we so much adore. Agree or disagree. And call me crazy but I think the Pats draft running back Jordan Toddman out UCON with there second 2nd round pick(60th) the kid has all the intangibles u look for in a back, sure he was not used in the passing game but that wasn't UCON style. With the right coaching he will be a stud in the NFL. Agree or Disagree , thanks Mike
I wouldn't give up on Brace, Big T, but I don't think you go into camp and say 'That spot is a lock.' In part because this draft is very deep on the DL, and you can get a very good player at the position that might normally go higher because of the depth, I like the fit for the Patriots at DE early in this draft. I think they'd be doing very well to come away with a J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan or Cameron Heyward at No. 17 if available, and they'd be long-range options at RDE. Brace could still be a factor at LDE. Agree on Todman. Definitely someone to keep on the radar.
Mike, you posted an opinion piece earlier this week on the possibility that Belichick's absence at the coaches breakfast was perceived as disrespectful by other coaches. In the comments section on that page, readers are tearing you apart. You didn't provide any support for your claim, you failed to even consider that Bill may have had a good reason for not attending, and it all seems to add up to a case of bitterness at getting the shaft after flying thousands of miles to get your only shot at Belichick since the end of the season. I was interested in hearing what your response to fans might be.
Jason, I'd say that I respect the opinion of fans. In turn, I was sharing my opinion. It's nothing personal with Belichick. In the head coaching fraternity, it's rare to hear one coach call another out publicly, but that doesn't mean they don't have strong feelings about things. I would also say that before writing the piece, I obviously checked to see why Belichick wasn't there. I was told he simply decided not to attend. On the last point, I did have the chance to talk to Belichick at the NFL annual meeting -- I appreciated the passion he spoke with about rules changes -- so I don't feel "shafted" at all.
Gronks comments bring up a though I had last week. Can't the pats players just organize on their own and workout and prepare together? For example, TB12 can fly out all the receivers and TEs out to LA and do passing drills to work on their timing. The leaders on the team, both offensive and defensive could rent a facility and hire some coaches and set up there own off season program. Technically, is that allowed? Any chance it happens?
Yes, Curious, it is allowed and I wouldn't be surprised if it happens.
With no CBA, can teams trade future picks?
Yes, Hoogie, but they do so at their own risk.
Hi Mike, If you were a gambling man, and I'm not saying you are, what would you put the odds at for the Pats to actually use all four picks in the first two rounds?
I'd bet against it, James. I expect Trader Bill to be wheeling and dealing. It's always tough to know what opportunities are going to be there, but I think there will be some attractive ones.
How does the kick off rule change brandon tate's status on the roster?
I don't think it will affect Tate's status on the 53-man roster, Nick, but I could envision it having some impact on the 45-man game-day roster. If the Patriots are facing a team they know has a kicker who is going to crank the ball out of the end zone each time -- and the offensive plan doesn't call for many 3 and 4 receiver sets -- I could see Tate potentially being a healthy scratch. Obviously a lot of stars would have to align for that to happen, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.
Hey Mike,New England transplant in DC. I've been hearing some chat on talk radio and ProFootballTalk.com about Mike Shanahan being intent on taking a QB in this year's draft. I think Jake Locker seems like an ideal match for Shanahan's system but taking him with the 10th pick would be a stretch. With no mid-round picks because of the McNabb trade do you think the 'Skins would be an ideal trading partner for the Pats if they want to trade up for a "high impact" player.Belichick has had good success at the top of the draft during his tenure in New England, drafting both Richard Seymour and Jerrod Mayo in the top 10. Finding a defensive player that could come in and have the kind of impact either of those players had could put this team, and its young defense, over the top.Do you think there's any chance of this happening and do Belichick and Shanahan have any kind of trading history?
Interesting thought, Nick. If the Patriots like a player at 10, I could see this happening. Yes, Belichick and Shanahan have a trading history, as well as a history of friendship as we saw when Shanahan visited Patriots training camp in 2009. On the trading history, the Patriots dealt with Denver back in 2003 to nab Asante Samuel in the fourth round. Nice deal.
Ok, flat out. Who intrigues you the most in the draft that may fit with the Patriots?
If I had to choose one realistic player who might be available, it's Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward. Between what I saw of his performance in the Bowl game, and at the NFL Combine when he was poised and polished in media interviews -- coupled with his bloodlines and physical make-up -- he looks like a Patriot to me.
Mike, it looks like the Pats might move on Meriweather, could you see the Pats drafting 1 of the Williams, Deunta or Aaron?
Glenn, I'm not buying on Meriweather being moved. I'm of the opinion that Bill Belichick is higher on him than most believe. I don't rule out safety, but it's lower on my list of priorities.
Hi Mike. Assuming Belichick addresses the line of scrimmage with the two first-round picks, what do you think the liklihood is that he picks a WR with one of the second rounders? Baldwin and Hankerson look pretty good, but will flashbacks to Chad Jackson keep Belichick from looking at WRs early in this draft?
Bunk, I think you can get a good receiver in that second/third/fourth-round range, based on what the draft analysts say. I don't think Bill Belichick will be hesitant to pull the trigger because one pick at the position (Chad Jackson) didn't work out.
likelihood Randy Moss resigns here?
I say 10 percent. My feeling is that the Patriots have moved on.
Mike, after viewing the short media interview with Belichick earlier in the week it appeared Belichick was cautious choosing his words while answering each question. With Goodell announcing five teams were fined for contact with players, do you think Belichick considered more of those questions were coming from the media and the best way to avoid any sanctions was to evade the potential conflict and skip the breakfast? If not, why was he so uncomfortable with the media in answering questions?
Dennis, that could have been part of his thinking, the idea of "Why say anything? What good can come out of this?" Those looking at it from a different point of view would probably note that 31 of 32 other coaches thought otherwise.
Mike, The Pats usually do the unpredictable in the draft. With no free agency before the draft and the status of Mankins and Light unkown, I think the Pats use their 2 first round picks to rebuild the offensive line. I think they go Castonzo at 17 and Pouncey at 28. What do you think?
Ken, when I put my amateur scouting hat at BC's Pro Day yesterday, I couldn't help but be impressed by Castonzo. At 6-7, 313, he has really good feet. And he seems like a real sharp young man. I think he'd be a great fit as a LT of the future. I don't think Pouncey will get to 28, though.
What kind of year will Tom Brady have? How is this lockout going to affect him on the field?
Ryan, I don't expect the lockout will affect Brady negatively. He will work as hard as he usually does. I expect another top-flight year from him.
Hi Mike,I'd like your take on my question/statement below:They say the best defense is a great offense, any chance the PATS select two Offense players before they address their gaping pass rushing need?
I'd be surprised Brian, unless Mark Ingram was in the mix somehow. The only positions I could see them going offensively in the first round are RB and OL.
Mike, I know you like Shane Vereen as a RB in this draft class. I like Roy Helu a lot more. He is bigger, faster, and played in a better conference too. Your thoughts?
Glenn, I was listening to Todd McShay of ESPN's Scouts Inc. talk about Helu and he's watched him more than me. He said one of the things that was tough in evaluating him is that he played behind such a good o-line. The holes he ran through were sometimes so wide, maybe one of us could have had success.
How much more of Taylor Price will we see in 2011/2012? I was really encouraged by his strong showing in the regular season finale. He seems to have an excellent skill set. For him, is it just learning the offense? What kind of impact do you see him having next season?
Mike, I think that "learning the offense" is exactly what it is, in addition to having some confidence that he belongs. The skills are certainly there in my opinion. I expect him to compete for more playing time in 2011.
Mike - Thoughts on Mikel LeShoure in the 2nd round? I feel like New England needs a workhorse RB to take some of the pressure off Brady. A consistent running game will also create great play-action play with the TEs. Your thoughts?
It would probably have to be at the top of the round, JD. I could see it. With Green-Ellis, Woodhead and Leshoure, that's a strong 1-2-3 combination and I do believe you need three backs these days.
Any word from the NFL on compensatory picks for the 2011 draft?
Teams were told those will be announced tomorrow.
Hi Mike. You've mentioned Cunningham as somebody to watch going into his second season, but I also think Aaron Hernandez could really make a big jump from his rookie year to his second season, especially considering he is so young. Hopefully the injury doesn't get in the way of that. Any updates on his condition? Will he be able to workout much this offseason?
No updates, Bunk. The main thing that comes to mind with Hernandez is sharpening that attention to detail.
I'm ging to miss the kickoffs. How about you?
I don't think we'll notice a major difference, Dan. A few more touchbacks earlier in the season, but later in the year, when it gets colder, I think we'll still see lots of returns.
Im a server in annapolis and coach belicheck has come in many times, he always gets the salad bar. I think that is why he skipped the coaches breakfast, no salad bar.
Well done, John.
Mike, I appreciate your effort to write something interesting for once but I don't understand why you or the other coaches would care why Bill isn't at a media event. Seems like a pretty minor event to illicit your opinion piece.
Ryan, I can see that point of view. It was something I felt strongly about and some coaches did too, so I wrote it. Certainly there are more important things.
I would love to play for the Pats...I could be your future franchise RB. You havent had one of those since Curtis Martin. Mike, what do you think about trading up ahead of the MIA to grab me
Mark Ingram, to me, you're one of the wild cards in the draft for the Patriots. It wouldn't surprise me to see it unfold that way. I still lean defense there, but depending on how things unfold, I could see your name being on that card Bill Belichick will be holding that includes the few prospects he's targeting.
Mike, Which mid round RB do you see as the best fit for the pats? I've taken a liking to Vereen
Me too Scott. Scouts and coaches say he is one of the better pass-protecting backs in this draft.
Hey Mike, Any inside info on how other teams are regarding Herzlich? Also any word on how Lapham and Clairborn did yesterday, I hear you say the UMass kid did well.....
Wish I had more for you on this one, Cullen. Still working on getting some feedback from BC's Pro Day.
Mike...in the piece you wrote earlier this week about the coaches breakfast you made it seem that it should be important to Bill that his peers like him or even respect him why do you think he should care what they think???
David, I'd guess that Belichick does not care what his peers think about him.
Are you as glad as I am that there seems to be less questions about trading for Fitzgerald or Steve Smith? Lets not turn the Pats into the Redskins, people. Also, my feeling is if the Pats address OL/RB/OLB/DE in some order using their first six picks I will call this draft a success. Agree or disagree?
It's sort of a moot point to talk about vets now, because they simply aren't available to trade. On the draft, I like the positions you picked. I concur.
What do you think of Herzlich as an OLB in NE? He has the length and intangibles of a Vrabel. A perfect buy-low prospect. Bruce Carter from UNC fits this description as well.
Lloyd, I'm pulling for Herzlich, as I know a lot of people from this area are as well. I'd go for it if he's there in the mid-to-late rounds. Carter seems a better fit for the 4-3 in my view.
Isn't it possible BB was already eating Brunch? He's normally a step ahead of the pack:)
Good one, Clark.
Let's go for another 5...
Mike, I know you've done breakouts of the Pats in sub packages as justification for picking a Ryan Kerrigan type player. Maybe for a blog piece, you could go back to the early-mid 00's when McGinest, Seymour, Bruschi and Vrabel were manning the defense to see what their sub breakdown was like back then. I'm betting the numbers aren't nearly as drastic due to the quality of players back then compared to now.
Good thought, Gus. Just not sure I have the resources to do that. I was speaking with one head coach and running the Patriots numbers by him, and he called them average. He said the third defensive back is, on average, playing more than the third linebacker for the majority of teams these days.
Find it how many every fan here is defending Bill? Blind faith is pretty predictable.
I respect the viewpoints, Zack. The point I'd stress is that it's nothing personal. It's an opinion, I felt strongly about it, some coaches felt strongly about it, and I wrote it.
Hey Mike, Who do you think would make a better OLB for the Patriots, Ryan Kerrigan or Brooks Reed?
Tyler, when looking at the OLB, it's that ability to both rush and drop back into coverage. Both are a challenging projection. I've seen more of Kerrigan and almost every snap he's playing forward. In the limited stuff I've seen from Reed, it's the same. In Combine drills, I thought Kerrigan looked a bit stiff to me going backwards, with Reed perhaps a bit more fluid. But I feel like that's almost nit-picking. Tough call.
Hi Mike,Thanks for the chat! With all the discussion and emphasis on drafting for defense, I would disagree somewhat. I think the recent playoff losses (starting with the SB loss to the Giants) came more from failures of the offensive line. I think the Giants provided the roadmap - blitz, attack, and pressure TB. With all the other questions about the offensive line, I think it needs to be a much higher priority in the draft. Also, since much of the early focus will be on DL/DE/LB & cornerbacks, this would allow BB to wheel
Fair point, Joseph. I do think they address the offensive line early in this draft.
Why is everyone saying we need WR's. We are loaded at the receiver position: Branch, Welker, Tate, Edelman, Price, not to mention Gronk and Hernandez. Maybe we dont have the deep threat but we still put up big time points throughout the season
Branden, it might be because some are looking are Branch and Welker in the last year of their contracts. Also, I think the playoff loss to the Jets is in the mindset of some.
Mike, gun to your head (figuratively speaking), if you had to choose 1 person who would be in a Patriots uniform next season with a new deal... who would it be. Logan Mankins or Randy Moss?
Not really blind faith with his resume
Mark, I think most coaches would like to have Belichick's resume, no doubt.
Mike, after the CBA mess is finished, do you see Ricky Williams in the Pats plans?
Steve, he was one free agent that I had targeted who seemed like a good fit.
I personally don't buy that Bill showed disrespect by skipping the breakfast. At the same event, loudmouth Rex actually stated that Welkers benching was due to Bill's respect of him and other coaches. A bit incongreous don't you think?
Ross, I view that as two different issues. I do think Belichick shows respect to other coaches. Those behind the scenes at the NFL meetings -- where Belichick was front and center on some issues with other coaches -- would agree to that. But I was focusing on the specific decision of not attending the breakfast while the league's other 31 coaches did.
Mike -- what do we do between now and the draft? Boring
Let's end on this one, Mac. I think we dive in to the draft preparation even deeper and learn more about these prospects. I am in the process of arranging some field trips to watch some of the prospects on tape and then it will give us more to discuss.
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. Appreciate all the viewpoints. Will look forward to doing it again next Thursday.