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April 5, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike Reiss
  (11:59 AM)

Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat.

Mike Reiss
  (12:00 PM)

We'll wait a few minutes before getting started. Lead-in question today: How many of the Patriots' top four picks (within the top 62) do you see the team making? I'll post any submissions at the end of the chat today. I'll pick 3.

Mike Reiss
  (12:03 PM)

Once I see the text starting to post on ESPNBoston.com for this chat, we'll get started. Whatever time we miss after 12 p.m. ET, we'll make up on the back end of 1 p.m. ET.

Mike Reiss
  (12:06 PM)

OK, I see the text now. Let's roll. This is an exciting day on this end, and I'm not talking about Red Sox opening day (although here's hoping they have a great season). Tonight, at Gillette Stadium, season-ticket holders are in for a treat with the SportsCenter Patriots Draft Special, presented by ESPNBoston.com

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

ESPN's Trey Wingo is the host, and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and Tedy Bruschi will be on the panel. I'll be there, too. We'll have clips of the event running on ESPNBoston.com in the coming weeks.

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

And now, to our chat...

Nemanja (Vranje,Serbia)

Mike, what's the situation with Wes Welker? Any progress on a new deal?

Mike Reiss
  (12:07 PM)

No progress there, as I understand it, Nemanja. Right now, in the words of Bill Belichick, "it is what it is."

Ian (Tampa)

Mike,With a third TE now in the fold and roster spots at a premium, do you see the Pats ultimately carrying one less running back and utilizing Aaron Hernandez in that role for 3-5 carries/game like he did towards the end if the season?

Mike Reiss
  (12:09 PM)

Ian, I could see the four RBs, but not necessarily with Hernandez in mind. I see Ridley, Vereen and Woodhead as the top three (no specific order), with Larsen/Fiammetta the No. 4 in the fullback/big back role depending on who it is. Possibility for a fifth back, but right now I'd lean toward 4 on the roster.

corky (Destin fl.)

Hi Mike: Have to think Defense in the draft and Bill using all his picks this year, maybe even moving (gasp) up??safety, rushing backer, and of course a cb or 2 in this one...Then again he'll probably trade out of the first for a heap of seconds?? maybe he does this just to mess with us?

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

Corky, I'm too close to it, I think. But I did laugh when a buddy of mine explained to me that Patriot drafts are big let-downs, because he gets all excited for the pick and then it almost happens, "The New England Patriots have traded the pick..." I guess I just take it as business as usual for them. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But the team's won-loss track record speaks for itself. As for areas to focus, I would add big DL to the list.

Henry (Florida)

Mike if Edelman don't make the team as a wide receiver can he make the team as a Db

Mike Reiss
  (12:11 PM)

I think he can, Henry, but I still like Edelman at WR.

Craig (Taftville)

Any chance the Patriots sign Yeremiah Bell?

Mike Reiss
  (12:12 PM)

I could see it, Craig, but from a pure speculation standpoint, it might be the type of thing that is more likely to happen after the draft. The reason why is that Bell probably wants to avoid signing with a team and then seeing that team draft a safety in the first round.

Rob (Acton)

Mike, what do you think of Arkansas WR Greg Childs? He's coming off an injury but he has good size and speed. Do you think he would be a good fit for the Pats in the late 2nd or 3rd round?

Mike Reiss
  (12:13 PM)

Rob, I like all three Arkansas receivers for the Patriots. I say that without having watched much of them (just watching limited highlights) but reading up on scouting reports from media analysts and talking to some folks around the league. One thing I like is the idea that they come out of a pro offense.

nut (shell)

I think the Pats should go straight defense with the first 4 picks. What do you think Mike?

Mike Reiss
  (12:14 PM)

I lean defense overall, but OL and WR are areas I think they could also go if the right players are there.

ajsocha (Yardley, PA)

What is the status of J. Cunningham? Was last years "lost year" due to injury, practice performance or both? Is this the year BB "goes for it" in the draft and takes 6 players or even better, moves up. TB may play till he's 40 but the time has to be now.

Mike Reiss
  (12:16 PM)

I vote for both on Cunningham. On BB moving up, here is how I envision it unfolding: He'll have a list of about 4-5 players he likes as realistic possibilities in the range they are picking. Depending on what unfolds with those players, he could absolutely move up. DL Michael Brockers is the one player I like in that scenario. Some mixed opinion on him league-wide, but I see a potential difference-maker there. I believe Brockers is at the facility today meeting with the team.

mpc12pats (Work)

Great win on Monday night by your boy coach Cal. How many more years do you think he'll be at UK? I'll set the over under at 1. Which way you going?

Mike Reiss
  (12:17 PM)

Coach Cal -- thanks for the memories at UMass. Didn't you hear what he said? He's not going anywhere. He wants to chase UCLA for most national titles. And, of course, I believe everything he says :) I'll take the over!

orion (illinois)

are the patriots going to seriously address the defense in the draft? The offense has clearly improved but what everyone seems to forget is that the D couldn't get it done in the end

Mike Reiss
  (12:18 PM)

I think they will. Last year, they picked one defensive player in the first five rounds. From this view, I think they'll be making a mistake if they go that route again.

Ian (Bangor, Maine)

Mike.. Everyone keeps saying the "Patriots system IS Josh McDaniels system". I contest that, Bill Belichick ran a holistically different system than the McDaniels' system last year. This is not going to revert back to the old 2007 style, this is going to be a hybrid. With a mix of nomenclature and new ideas... McDaniels' system is not going to bring in "his offense", this is going to be run much differently based on the personnel that's available. I think you are jumping the gun saying Lloyd "knows" the Patriots system, I really don't think he does. Your response?

Mike Reiss
  (12:20 PM)

Ian, I half-agree. The scheme/offense is very much the same -- much of the terminology will carry over -- but different things are accentuated within the scheme based on personnel. So when McDaniels was last here, the Patriots didn't have the two big TEs. So naturally some of the things they were doing is different than when McDaniels was last here.

Jean A (Pennsylvania)

With the Masters coming up this weekend, I got to thinking. In golf, the player who won the previous hole has the honor of being the first to tee off on the next hole. Does Belichick ever defer?

Mike Reiss
  (12:21 PM)

LOL.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Do you think that Alabama LB D'nte Hightower will be a perfect fit for the New England Patriots?

Mike Reiss
  (12:22 PM)

Not a perfect fit, Chris, because my read on Hightower is that he would be more of an ILB in this scheme, a between-the-tackles player. I like what the Patriots have there with Mayo, Spikes, Fletcher, Tarpinian etc. So unless they thought Hightower could play on the edge, I'm not sure I see the fit.

Adrian (London, UK)

Hey Mike, what chance to you see the Pats adding another RB in free agency? In Ridley and Vereen we have 2 promising players, but with little experience. Do you think BB could go out and pick up a more experienced back to share the load with them? Given some of our clock management problems last year, and the need to protect Brady, I think we really need to try and establish a legitimate run game.re the lead in question, I can see BB picking 2 from the original picks, and rolling the other first round pick back into the second round, just the same with the new orleans pick last year......then rolling back one of the second round picks to give him more in day 3.......BB just likes to trade!

Mike Reiss
  (12:23 PM)

Adrian, I lean against the veteran back unless that player has special teams value. I just feel like it's time to turn it over to the kids. I also think Tony Fiammetta could be a type of big back (a la Heath Evans) in addition to a fullback.

Hoogie (Lexington)

How do you see Welker's contract situation working out?

Mike Reiss
  (12:24 PM)

At this point, Hoogie, I see the franchise tag for Welker.

Mike Reiss
  (12:24 PM)

Meaning I'm not anticipating an extension at this time. That can always change.

Casey (Plymouth, MA)

Mike, I heard an analyst mention that next year's safety draft class is markedly better than the group for 2012. Could the Pats pass on someone this year knowing they signed Steve Gregory and have the flexibility with McCourty and wait til 2013, or do you think they have to grab a body this year?

Mike Reiss
  (12:26 PM)

Casey, I think they'll grab one this year. I just don't think, in a perfect world, they want Gregory starting all 16 games and playing full-time snaps. They've spent a lot of time with safeties between pre-draft visits (e.g. Syracuse's Phillip Thomas) and private workouts (e.g. LSU's Brandon Taylor, among others). Another factor to keep in mind is that Patrick Chung enters the final year of his contract.

Zach (CT)

Hey Mike, Just got my tickets for the Patriots Draft Party @Gillette. You going?

Mike Reiss
  (12:27 PM)

Zach, I will be working during the draft, and thus won't be at the team's party on that day. But if you're talking about tonight's season-ticket holder event -- SportsCenter Patriots draft special, presented by ESPNBoston -- I'll be there thinking about how fortunate I am to be in this job.

Kelsey (CT)

Hey Mike, Thanks as always and congrats on the news you shared last week! Best guess - Markell Carter... Does he make the opening game day roster this season?

Mike Reiss
  (12:28 PM)

Kelsey, I view him as a bubble guy, but since I don't want to sit on the fence I'll say he will make it.

Mike (Clearwater florida)

hey mike,I am a little concerned that the Gronk us still in a walking boot, 8 weeks after surgery. Is this more serious than the media is portraying? Will he still be able to cut and run a 4.6 40?

Mike Reiss
  (12:28 PM)

Mike, when I caught up with Gronk last week between chocolate cruellers and iced coffees at Dunkin' Donuts, he said the walking boot was coming off in two weeks.

Nate (Oxon Hill MD)

Hi Mike , hope u get to me today . I think they use all mike and might move up this year . This team just went to the big game and unlike fans on your blog that think we need so much help I think BB realize he just need a few impact players and we will be right back in the big game and hope the ball bounce our way . IMO the free agent signings were great and all we need is to draft two receivers , a safety early and a safety/db later, and two DE/OL . And if they move up its gonna be for a defensive player . I also think only lloyd and Wes are sure things and Gonzalez might be a sleeper , if the rookies make the team the rest might be gone . Thanks Mike , Thoughts ?

Mike Reiss
  (12:30 PM)

Nate, at WR, I still like the value of a Deion Branch to this team. I see him on the club. I also think Slater and Edelman will be on the team. So to me that leaves 1-2 other spots for Ocho/Stallworth/Gonzalez/draft pick etc. to compete for.

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

Random aside: Do you think in other markets, those holding a team-specific online chat have 200 questions waiting for them like this one?

Mike Reiss
  (12:31 PM)

It's April 5, baseball opening day, and we're firing up the Patriots talk. Have to love it.

Tron (Waltham, MA)

Hypothetically speaking, what do you think it would take to pry Ed Reed from the Ravens? One could dream right?

Mike Reiss
  (12:32 PM)

Tron, so many layers to that one. Reed's health. How much longer does he play? But to play along, if the Patriots offered a first-rounder, I wouldn't be surprised if the Ravens jumped at it.

Chad (Pittsfield, MA)

Mike, CB Janoris Jenkins should be able to start right away especially with a thin talent pool like the Pats. Do you see them taking a chance on him?

Mike Reiss
  (12:34 PM)

Chad, here is my thought on Jenkins: I believe the first pick that BB makes in every draft is reflective of the type of player he wants on his team (both on and off the field). That first pick sets the tone for the rest of the rookies. He's the leader of that group. And when I read about Jenkins, and some of the things he has going on off the field, it gives me pause when trying to think like Bill Belichick in this case. Now, if he was the 31st pick -- and the second of two first-rounders -- that might alter the equation. In the end, it comes down to how they view those off-field things. I don't know the answer.

Mark (Philadelphia)

I haven't heard much about the development of Ryan Mallett. Do the Patriots envision he'll be ready to lead the Patriots three or four years down the road? Is that the plan?

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

Mark, I don't think there is a definitive answer on this one. My view on the Patriots' view of Mallett is that there are obviously some tools to work with there, and there were some good things in practice. But I don't think this is Tom Brady, Part II, where Brady was ready to rise in his second year and the staff really knew it.

Tom (Miami)

Hey Mike, any updates on DL Castillo? Thanks!

Mike Reiss
  (12:36 PM)

Tom, Castillo re-signed with the Chargers on a one-year deal Wednesday.

Pappy (Panama city beach, fl)

Mile, great stuff. When I was younger I did all the draft research and tried to pick the Pats draft possibilities. Now everyone posts what they think, they have Mock draft 100.3 aqnd stuff. Is there anyone that regularly gets it right? Someone that you think can get close to what's going to happen? It's all just a crap shoot isn't it.

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

Pappy, props to Christopher Gasper of the Boston Globe (Brandon Meriweather, 2007), Michael Holley of WEEI (Jerod Mayo, 2008) and Scott Zolak of 98.5 The Sports Hub (Nate Solder, 2011) for nailing Patriots picks in the past. I'd like to add my name to that list. Closest I got was Darius Butler in 2009, but I put him in the first round. Yikes. Good thing I'm not picking the players.

Dennis (MI)

Have you ever partied with the Gronk?

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

LOL. No, Dennis, no partying with the players.

Mike Reiss
  (12:38 PM)

Gronk might spike me.

Eric (MA)

We all know they would like to bolster the front 7 (have said the draft is deep at) but Brockers, Cox and Poe will be long gone by 27. We also know that they value draft picks too much so trading up is highly unlikely (sorry Larry). Also, the Pats have never in their history with Bill invested early in a pass-rusher so do we really believe that they will pick the guys like Upshaw, Branch, or Mercilius? Probably not. Theya??ve draft defensive backs the past few years early with mixed (McCourty)/incomplete (Dowling) results so the likelihood of a CB in the 1st is slim tooa? They have 11 WRs signed so they're not picking Hill, Kendall Wright or Randle that early... See what Ia??m doing here? Talking myself out of all the available playersa? Therefore I will only give you what I view as the perfect draft for the Pats: * 1st round - DL/DE Kendall Reyes, UConn (6'4" 300), trade the other first (getting multiple picks this draft & next) * 2nd round - S Brandon Taylor, LSU (5'11" 209) and Shea McClellan, Boise St. OLB/DE (6'3" 260) * 3rd round - G/C Ben Jones, Georgia (6'3" 303) * 4th round - WR Joe Adams, Arkansas (5'11" 179) and RB Chris Rainey, Florida (5'8" 180) who has been compared to RB/WR Percy Harvin of the Vikings who Bill loves). Adams and Rainey are two of the fastest players in the draft. Maybe the Pats pick only one of these guys... More likely to be Rainey.To me that would a an A+ draft. 1st 3 picks go to D at all the "need" positions: DL, OLB

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

Quite detailed, Eric. I'm going to pull out one name because it hits at one key area in my view -- Chris Rainey. I don't think he will be there in the fourth round, but I think he represents a potential kickoff return option that would address an area that hurt them last year -- kickoff return (NFL ranking, 29th). I think that will be one of their goals coming out of this draft.

Mike Reiss
  (12:40 PM)

Quite detailed, Eric. I'm going to pull out one name because it hits at one key area in my view -- Chris Rainey. I don't think he will be there in the fourth round, but I think he represents a potential kickoff return option that would address an area that hurt them last year -- kickoff return (NFL ranking, 29th). I think that will be one of their goals coming out of this draft.

Kenny (Maine)

Hi Mike, great work you do for us fans. Do you have a feel for Whitney Mercilus? I think he could be the next JJP of the giants. do you agree we need some nastiness on our front 7?

Mike Reiss
  (12:43 PM)

Mercilus looked the part to me at the combine. When I gave him the "eye" test, I thought it was like Rosie Colvin. He has the great one-year production and could be that type of athlete/difference-maker the D could really use. I like the possibility if he's even there.

Mark Salem (Lincoln)

Mike, Is it true the Patriots signed Will Allen!? I assume if we did you must have at least mentioned it but somehow I must have missed it. But what is undeniable is that even if you did mention it you have never brought it up when discussing the CB core for next year going forward. Anyways, why aren't you talking about him (if true)? Are you low on the guy? Patriots official roster says we have him. I LOVE THIS GUY!!!!! Always admired him on the Dolphins. Know he's getting older, but even just last year, Scouts inc graded him out at a 69 (http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/player/scouting/_/id/2570/will-allen)... which keys out at the highest possible ranking for "average starter". Newsflash, but for this Patriots secondary that sounds like an Allstar! Let me know what's going on!Keep up the great work Mike. You're an inspiration.

Mike Reiss
  (12:44 PM)

Thanks Mark. It is true that the Patriots signed Will Allen. Here is the link to the announcement: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4719544/report-cb-will-allen-joins-pats

Mike Reiss
  (12:46 PM)

Allen will be in the mix at CB, and possibly at S, but I didn't view the signing as a big-time answer for the team. He might be part of the solution, but I think he is one of those roster-bubble players entering camp.

Kurtis, TX [via mobile]

Thanks for the chat Mike. With the schedule releasing soon, what are a few games youd like to see on primetime?

Mike Reiss
  (12:47 PM)

Kurtis, for me, whether it's 1 p.m. ET, 4:15 p.m. ET, 8:20 p.m. ET or 8:30 p.m. ET, it's all the same. It's football and once the ball is in the air, that's a good thing. I like them all. But to pick one game in primetime, I'll take the Denver (Peyton Manning) contest.

Rick (Providence)

I love love love the NFL draft. With 6 picks in 4 rounds my wish list is:1.Center to anchor a young talented o-line for years to come2. Defensive playmakers regardless of position. I don't think you can say the Patriots having a glaring NEED on defense but what they have is just a bunch of players and little to no play makers3.A trade for a number 1 pick next year. Belichicks philosophy of trading for future number 1s will eventually pay off with a top 10 pick ala Mayo4. With 6 picks in the top 4 rounds the Patriots don't need to worry about filling out spots 40-53 on the roster, they need to take a chance on potential playmakers5.A WR over 6-2 to try and developThanks Mike best of luck with the new addition to your team

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

I share the love Rick. Like the thoughts, all around.

Mike (DC)

Mike, I came at the draft inside out, asking what the Pats don't need, so we know what positions they are looking at. The way I see it they are set at WR, TE, ILB, QB and RB. Leaving DL, OL, OLB, and the entire secondary. That said, how many picks they make will depend on the board. If a player with the right grade is unavailable, they'll trade out, or if a bunch of good players are available, they'll trade out. That said, with the orster this full already, I don't see BB picking up more picks this year, so I say 3 picks S, DL and OL...

Mike Reiss
  (12:48 PM)

Good stuff, Mike. Representing us in DC today.

Jan (Auburn, NH)

Mike, With Castillo resigning with SD for 1 million and 1 million in incentives, wasn't that below your expectations for what the pats would offer? I thought you mentioned a Shaun Ellis type of deal. Why did the pats not make more of an effort to sign him?

Mike Reiss
  (12:49 PM)

Jan, it was below my expectations. The Patriots obviously had more information on Castillo than I did (perhaps an injury concern), but I would have endorsed a more aggressive approach there. I like Castillo as a player.

Karl (Orefield, PA)

Mike:It seems BB either hits big in the draft (Gronk, Hernandez, etc) or busts. How worried are you that BB will mess it up? By that Imean like last year--three guys (Vareen, Cannon, Dowling) who pretty much didn't contribute Other than pick 27, I don't like Kiper's board at all, do you?

Mike Reiss
  (12:51 PM)

Karl, I look at it a little differently in the sense that everyone booms or busts. There is no real gold standard. As for Vereen, Cannon and Dowling, those were all health-related and those players could still be big parts of the future. So I'd throw a 5-yard penalty there for a false start. BB will be fine IMO. Agree on Kiper's four picks -- thought there were some better fits for NE.

Greg (Nj)

Hi Mike. I've been a patriots fan for the last several years and I always watch the draft live. In last years draft do you think the Patriots should have picked Da'quan Bowers instead of Ras-I Dowling. I think Arrington and McCourty would've been good enough to start last year and they could of drafted Janoris Jenkins, Stephen Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick, Jayron Hosley, or Alfonso Denard. What do you think?

Mike Reiss
  (12:52 PM)

Greg, I would have taken Dowling over Bowers. But there were a few other defensive players that I thought were tailor-made for them (e.g. Jabaal Sheard) that would have been better picks than Dowling. We'll see how it plays out in the long run.

Al (Florida)

I believe the Patriots erred in not locking up a humble Welker to a team friendly deal during last season. He hinted around enough. Now it will cost much more. We can look at the deal they eventually did with Mankins. (Although Mankins did have a sub-par year)He would have signed the same deal sooner had it been offered avoiding much of the drama ... I suspect it's Kraft who sometimes loses patience with the treatment of his favorites and asserts his will in some of these matters. BB will do what he feels is best for the team regardless of anyone's opinion which leads me to wonder how many tense conversations have happened behind closed doors in the executive suites. I have a standing bet with my friends that Brady ends his career on the West Coast near his Hollywood buddies ... That could bring a player and a couple of number 1's ... your thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:56 PM)

Al, I disagree on the Kraft assertion aspect. My view is that BB is making all the calls. He sets the values based on the budget he is provided and how the salaries/players fit in the locker room. On Welker, I agree. We seldom know the specifics of negotiations, but I simplify it and say "If both sides are committed, it should get done because these things are about compromise." Understanding it's a two-way street, and we don't often know details of how these things go down, I do think it's fair to question the team on the way the Wilfork/Mankins negotiations dragged out. I really felt the Wilfork one, in particular, affected the locker-room dynamic in 2009 when they had problems. On Brady, to steal a line from BB, "my crystal ball is cloudy."

Ben (Nashua, NH)

Hi Mike, I have been hearing that Mark Barron may be off the board before the Pats pick at 27. Do you think they could value Harrison Smith at one of there two first round picks or do you think they could trade the 31st for a future first round and an early pick in the second round to get him?

Mike Reiss
  (12:57 PM)

I do, Ben. Not sure Smith will be there in the second round, so if they want him, it might have to be at the end of the first. Just a hunch, watch out for the Ravens on that one.

Tommy (Albany, NY)

I really think Bobby Wagner would be a nice addition to the Patriots. He flashes the ability to be a Mark Anderson type pass rusher and also shows that he can drop back into coverage, making him a bigger value than Anderson was. Thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

Tommy, the first thing that stood out to me with Wagner was that he's just barely 6-feet. At the end of the day, it's how you play, but that might be something that would knock him down the Pats board a bit.

Ryan (Pennsylvania)

I love the way Patriots try to bring in as much solid talent as possible to step up the competition and make players compete for their spots year round. My question has to do with our wide receivers. It has been reported that the only "safe" receivers are Lloyd and Welker. When do you think we'll start to see the receiving core really take shape and the fans can see who exactly Brady will be throwing to?

Mike Reiss
  (12:59 PM)

Ryan, I think training camp will be a good indication of that.

Red (CT)

Mike any news on Light retiring. He has always been a team guy so surely if BB and Brady ask him he will come back for 1 more year even can he be a standby insurance policy.

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

Red, haven't heard anything in recent weeks, just that he's strongly considering it.

Tim (Newton, MA)

Hey Mike,I like Cannon in the future, I think he was a great value where they took him, and he'll prove to be an underrated pick. With Light's possible retirement, Waters uncertainty, and Vollmers linguring injuries, do you see Cannon battling for a spot more at tackle or guard this year?

Mike Reiss
  (1:00 PM)

Tim, I think they'll use him at both in camp from a flexibility standpoint, but I'd lean toward tackle at this point.

Zach (Brooklyn)

What's your take on Shea Mcclellin? Seems like he's got the Patriot attitude and is super versatile. I'd love it if we snag him at 31. What's your take?

Mike Reiss
  (1:01 PM)

Was in the office with Todd McShay briefly yesterday and he mentioned the same thing. Definitely a name to keep on the radar.

Todd (Wisconsin)

Mike, I think there's a little overhype in the criticism of Belichick's drafting. There have been some busts...but his evaluation of QB's, TE's, O-Line, D-Line, K/P have been unquestionably good. He's hit most of the time on LB's, CB's and S's. The only area with a high number of busts is WR. Am I missing something with all the criticism?

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

Todd, I think the main thing is that many look at it from the micro view -- just the Patriots. But if you broaden out, and look at the league as a whole, there are a lot of misses. I think that context is important.

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

Let's go for another 5...

Justin (Oregon)

I know we've got gronk and hernandez AND now fells, but I just have this nagging feeling the if the Stanford TE Fleener is arround at #27 that BB is gonna go that direction. His combine number basically make him a gronk clone and can you IMMAGINE two gronks running down the seam? Hernandez splits all the way out, or is in the backfield and fells is in for blocking? Am I crazy or wouldn't BB and Mcdaniels drool over this as an option?

Mike Reiss
  (1:02 PM)

Another tight end? Justin, that would be the ultimate curveball.

Chris S (Dallas, TX)

The lead in question is absurd. Unsubstantiated guesses. What BB does with each pick will depend largely on what is happening on draft day and who is available for the prior picks. Also- I have seen #85 working out a lot this post season. Guy has not lost a step. I am predicting a huge comeback this season with a year under his belt and actually having OTAs.

Mike Reiss
  (1:04 PM)

You don't like my lead-in question, Chris? Sorry to disappoint. Ochocinco has done everything possible to make it work here (team-first attitude, cutting his salary etc.) and now we'll see how it looks on the field with a full offseason. Wes Welker called him the best comeback route runner he's ever seen.

sam (kennebunk)

Mikehow long will it take for your second child (arrival yet?) to become taller than you :)?

Mike Reiss
  (1:06 PM)

LOL. No arrival yet. This game-plan is right on schedule at this point. If it happens too fast, we might have to do some DNA testing.

muk (NYC)

just a follow up on a previous answer about TB being ready in the waiting. i tend to forget some of the background from the season in which he took over as a starter, but do you think this is just an opinion made in hindsight or did the pats really know they had found 'the one' in TB early on?

Mike Reiss
  (1:07 PM)

At that point, muk, they knew they had a riser who was prepped to challenge Bledsoe for the No. 1 job. The rate of improvement was such that it was eye-opening to the staff.

Mark (Connecticut)

Hey Mike, I see that a lot of people are mocking Mark Barron to the Patriots. I personally think Harrison Smith is a better fit, given Barron's recent injuries and Smith's playmaking ability. Thoughts?

Mike Reiss
  (1:09 PM)

Mark, I like them both. I wouldn't shy away from Barron because of injury. I think he'll be OK (reminds of TE Heath Miller/Steelers from the 2005 draft as he slipped with a hernia). It would be more style of play and I like Barron as a potential difference-maker. Smith as more of a steady performer.

Clark (Muncie,In)

I caught a repeat of BB's A Football Life last Monday night. When we played the Jets, they ran a clip of Rex Ryan famous "I didn't come here to kiss Bills rings" comment. That was followed by a clip of BB eating luch while doing a conference call. Was that you asking BB if anyone had ever kissed his rings?

Mike Reiss
  (1:09 PM)

Not me, Clark. That was Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald (now NFL.com).

Al (Wellesley)

Mike - etiher for todays chat or for a blog entry later - it would be interesting to get your perspective on potential draft day trading partners, either up or down, and each teams rational for doing so. Thx

Mike Reiss
  (1:10 PM)

Good idea, Al. Going to put some thought into it, jot it down so I don't forget, and hopefully blog it later.

David (North Attleboro,Ma)

As a lot of good veteran safeties got the franchise tag this year. Do you think the Patriots will go after Barron or Harrison Smith high in the draft?

Mike Reiss
  (1:10 PM)

David, I think either would be a solid pick, and I do think they'll address the position -- whether it's in the first round or beyond.

Antonio Cromartie (East Rutherford, NJ)

2 kids? That's nothing. You oughta see my abilities.

Tommy (Albany,NY)

Have you heard of any players that the Patriots are showing extra interest in?

Mike Reiss
  (1:14 PM)

Let's end on this one, Tommy. "Interest" is so broad, so I like to chart in the in-house visits before the draft because that often means the player is still on the radar. Lot of safeties and front-seven players from what I can tell at this point. We'll see how it all plays out. A lot of information out there. A lot of misinformation out there. One thing I do believe is that the Patriots individually work out more players than any club in the NFL so they have scouting information that is unique to their system. It's a very extensive process and we only get a slice of it.

Mike Reiss
  (1:14 PM)

Going to go through some submissions now on the lead-in question and post them.

Jim L. (Macon, GA)

I think the Pats make 3 of the 4 picks, trading one of the first rounders.

Casey (Plymouth, MA)

Re: Lead-in question...I think they only make 2 of their "slotted" picks, as I just can't picture them NOT trading picks within those first 2 rounds

Liam (Charlestown)

Hi Mike, I think the Pats will almost certainly make 3 of their first 62 picks, but it's inevitable that BB will trade one pick and move back while stockpiling another pick for next year. I wish for once that he would use both of his 1st rounders so he can build the best team he can around Brady while he's still here, but Bill is all about the future in just about everything he does.

Marcus (Easton, MA)

I'm hoping the Patriots use three picks - combining two to move up and get Brockers. This defense desperately needs some play makers not more role players. Quite frankly, I'm sick and tired of watching that defense struggle - Belichick should be too.

Billy G (Suwanee, Ga)

Of the Patriots' four picks within the first 62, how many do you think the team actually makes?Typically BB trades down. In this draft it is almost a given due to shortage of draft positions that this trend will continue. I believe he will trade one first round for multiple lower picks and trade an additionally acquired second round for more lower round choices. This will leave one first and still 2 second round for the year.

Laurie (Moncton)

How many of the 4 slotted picks in the first 2 rounds does BB take? Probably the 2 second rounders. I can see both first rounders sliding into the early second. At 27, BB has the security of 31, and there should be enough similar ranked players to take the best offer available. At 31, I feel the Colts will want Fleener before the Giants are on the clock. Only sliding 3 spots here. No first round selections, 4 second rounders.

Matt (New York)

Hey Mike, I believe they'll keep 3 picks. Both first rounds and the 62nd.

jblackburner (ATL)

Hi Mike. I believe the Pats will pick at least 3 times, and possibly 4, in the first 62 picks, but not all the picks might be at their current slot. A lot depends on how BB sees the talent/depth in this draft class overall, and specifically in the first two rounds.

Tom (Longmeadow)

For todays lead in, I can see the Pats trading one of those 2nd round picks back for another later rounder (3-4) and another 2nd or 3rd for 2013...

Speed (South Boston)

Mike, I like your question, but would prefer "how many do you think the team actually needs to make?" All four! The Patriots need more speed and athleticism - especially on defense. You don't get that by trading out or trading down. Depending on who is available at the end of the first round - DL and DE/OLB. Barron from Alabama won't get by the Eagles or Jets. In the second round DE/OLB (again), DB, OL depending on who is there. There are some really good players available in this year's draft and the Patriots, with some luck, could obtain the speed and athleticism that could put them over the top for the next several years.

Justafan (Under the sea)

I think all of their selections will be moved back a couple of slots. I see them targeting getting early 2nd round picks. Kinda like the year Chung, Butler & Brace draft. I just think a prospect at that point that would warrant a 1st round consideration.

Jill (Medford)

I think they make two of them. I believe that they will trade both first round picks and both second round picks each to move up to higher first round picks.

Jacob (Baltimore)

I think they make the first 3 picks, then deal the 62nd pick for a 2nd next year and a couple mid or late picks this year

James (Northern California)

Mike, I am never surprised by anything BB does but I feel that we will fall in where we will pick 4 picks in the first 64 but one of the first rounders will be traded for a late 2nd this year and a first next year. It has happened for the past 2-3 drafts already and if someone starts to slip, some team will call the Pats for sure. I am also pretty sure that BB will spend one on a DB (S or CB).

David (North Attleboro,Ma)

Hopefully the Patriots make all their picks. A lot of fans love the trading down approach but to me it depends on who you are passing on to get extra picks for this or next year. Not all players latter in the draft hold the same value.

Nei (South Boston)

Hi Mike. Re: the lead in, I'm guessing BB will trade one of their 1st-rounders for a 2nd or 3rd this year and a 2nd or 3rd next year. So, I'm envisioning he makes 4 picks, just not as currently slotted.

Walter (Shrewsbury, MA)

Lead in answer: They trade up into next year by trading #31 for a 1st in 2013 -which will almost certainly be better than #31, while adding a pick in 2nd or 3rd round this year - trade up and add a pick! It's what BB did last year (traded #28 (2011) for a #27 (2012) and added a 2nd rounder (2011)). Trade up and add a pick - it's why BB smokes all other draft managers in the League.

Matt (Scarborough, ME)

Mike,This one is easy. They make 4 picks. Wild Bill trades one of the first rounders for an early second rounder and a first next year. So they make one selection in the first round and three in the second, Done. Now on to the my view about trading back. The Patriots assume they will be good and will have an end of the first round selection every year. It is costly to move up to the mid to early first round. So what do we do, we trade a first rounder, for an early second rounder and a next years first. I think every year the Patriots do this, they hope the team they trade with takes a downturn and they have a chance to draft to 15, see Jerod Mayo. Bill knows the parody in the NFL and it is a safe bet that most teams cannot stay good, this improving draft stock. Unfortunately, last year the Saints finished better than they did in 2010. Many fans dont like this strategy, if you use two first rounders, they are done, no hoping for a middle of the first round selection next year and no extra second round pick this year.

Pat (New York)

I see the Patriots making 3 selections,while moving up in the 1st round. The more you look at this draft it feels like last year. At 27 the Pats are going to miss out on the front tier defensive talent. And the CB's that can be taken at that spot can be taken over the next round and a half. So do you take another offensive lineman or trade out? I see them finally trading up with one of thier 2nd round picks and then trading down with the 31st pick.

Kyle (Cranston, RI)

Mike, I say they use three of them and they trade one of the 2nds for a 2012 3rd Rd. pick and a 2013 2nd Rd. pick.

James (Derry NH)

Hi Mike, I see the Pats using 3 selections in the first two rounds. Here?s how I envision it working out.Pick 1- Getting their annual trade out of the way early this year, the Pats trade picks 27 & 48 to Philly for the 15th pick where they take OLB Courtney Upshaw from Alabama. This works out for both sides as most mock drafts have BC MLB Luke Kuechly going to the Eagles at 15. But MLB is not a great need for them anymore since they acquired DeMarco Ryans from Houston. Plus Upshaw could be a target of the Jets, so not only do you get an impact player from a coach that BB trusts, but you keep him from your division rival. And with the rookie scale trading up is not as expensive as in years past.Pick 2 ? BB trades the 31st pick this year to Chicago, for their 1st round pick next year, and the 50th pick this year. Chicago is not as bad as their record shows last year, and may feel like they are one or two players away from going deep in the playoffs. They make a move to land 1st round talent and appease their fan base. Pick 3 The Pats take their second 2nd rounder with pick 62.With this scenario, BB stays unpredictable by trading up in the 1st round, once again secures two 1st round picks for next year, and lands two second round players where he feels he gets good value.What do you think? And as always keep up the great work and congrats to you and your wife.

BamaPat (Mobile, Ala.)

I think BB will still use four picks, but the first one won't come until somewhere between 33rd and 40th overall selection. He has no picks after 4th round this year; I think he wants to have some picks in 5-7. Historically, BB may have moved up more than down (15 to 13 times) but he typically moves up in lower rounds and moves down at top of the draft. He has moved up in Round 1 but it's rare.

Paul (Springfield)

I would think that the Pats will use three of the four while trying to move the 31 for a first in next year's draft. I don't know that we'll be drafting in many of the original spots as BB has moved up and down based on the talent on the board. It wouldn't surprise me at all if a player like Brockers were to fall into the twenties if BB traded up a few spots to select him in the same vein as Warren or Graham.

Eric (MA)

3 - 4

Mike (Durham, NH)

I can see the Pats using two picks and trading two picks

Mark (Lincoln)

Mike, in regards to your lead-in question: as always with The Mastermind, it depends. I think the Pats probably have a list of about 5-10 names at the safety (Barron would be a GIFT!!), DB (I like Jenkins, but predicting prospects not my forte), DLINE, and OLINE spots that if any of these players fall we will use our 1st round picks on them. Otherwise, I think it's smartest to, and consequently The Mastermind will, trade these picks for teams more desperate for immediate help. This way we can stockpile more "depth level" talent this year (which we all know The Mastermind loves) while giving ourselves a "free option" next year to see if that time around the Elite players on Belichick's "5-10 player" list reaches him then. I DON'T see us trading any of the 2nd round picks because that is where you get "depth" players who also have high upsides. I also don't see us trading up because, like I've noted if you can't get who you want because they dont fall on draft day, it's wisest to give yourself the option that next year they might (and you won't have to pay for it). Ultimately then my amateur analysis puts the odds of a player we like falling to us around 60%, making it around 50% that we will trade 1 of the first 4 picks, and maybe 8% that we will trade both picks.Whatever the result, In BB I Trust. IS IT DRAFT DAY YET!!!?

Pappy (Panama city beach, fl)

Forgot, I don't think BB uses his first four picks. I'll say he'll trade one in each round.

Dan Shaughnessy (Boston)

Wrong Mike, this is a baseball town! Go Sox!

Mike Reiss
  (1:25 PM)

How did that get in there???

grandjordanian (San Diego, CA)

Lead-in - I think they make 4 picks but am going to say they don't make any of their CURRENT picks. I see two trade downs at 27 and 31, and they'll shuffle those other two picks as well. But I see all four picks being made.

Kevin F. (Framingham, MA)

Hi Mike. I'm thinking the Pats make 3 picks but here is why. I think the Patriots may have something up their sleeve with the extra cap room they gained with Tom Brady's contract restructuring. I'm thinking we may see a Corey Dillion or Ted Washington situtation where the team will trade a Draft pick (probably a second rounder), for a player in a position of need (DE, Safety) with a year left on his contract. The other team gets a pretty high pick and unloads a player who they may not sign there the next year. The Pats get a player in a position of need as a one year rental and then can decide on long term need thereafter. With 3 other picks in the first 62, it still allows an infusion of youth, but the trade allows for a player who can contribute now in theory...

Marty (Phoenix)

I think they will take all four but one of the 1st rounders will be traded for a 2013 1st and a possible 2012 second.

Jake (Denver)

Hey Mike, happy opening day! To answer your lead in, I think the Patriots make all four of their top picks, but they still move down when it suits them. I get the sense that not only do they have a great feel for their board, but teams picking around them. If the Patriots target a player they feel will be there three picks later, why not trade? Saving a few million dollars over the length of the contract is part of the reason N.E. has sustained success. My question: what's the bigger first round priority to you, d line or dbs? I like the guys we have in the box (Wilfork, Love, Spikes, Mayo) and miss that Rodney Harrison type of presence that makes receivers worry.

Nick (Woburn, MA)

Well, I would imagine theyll trade one of those first rounders for a future 1st and a second this year. Seems like that is a Belichick Special. Ill say, 1 first rounder, 2 second rounders (They'll trade down from the second to stockpile later in the draft)

Mike Reiss
  (1:26 PM)

I think I got them all. Appreciate everyone's participation today. That's a great chat, as it usually is. My plan is to go through few more on the ESPNBoston.com Patriots blog tonight.

Mike Reiss
  (1:27 PM)

And a reminder, the chat takes a two-week hiatus for some important family business. Then we come back (likely on little sleep) and we lock in on the draft.