Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. Just going to get settled here at the NFL combine media center and we'll get started. Closer to a 12:05 p.m. ET kickoff.
Hello, we're ready to roll. Great to be here at NFL combine, listening to coaches, executives and prospects. This is the place to be. Media contingent grows every year.
I've picked up some good nuggets on the draft and Patriots and one that caught my attention was how highly Aqib Talib was viewed by some in the organization. They want him back, naturally, but the question is at what cost. I don't think there are any questions about how hard he worked or fit in here. Everything checks out in that regard.
The quesion on everyone's mind: How much do you think Dennard conviction changes things? From what I've read, he should be looking at probation. Do you think he's going to miss any of the season?
Jason, I've purposely not tried to get into speculating about that because the truth is that it's not my area of expertise. I signed up to cover football, not the courts, so I let the court reporters do their jobs. Reading them, it seems probabtion is likely (not jail time), so I defer to them. If I had to guess, and I'd stress it's just a guess, he won't miss any of the 2013 season.
With Dennard situation do you think drafting a CB becomes more imporant as well as resigning Talib?
Andre, the Patriots are a little bit in flux there. I do think they'll draft/sign at least 2 cornerbacks this offseason. They have to, simply based on the numbers. But I don't think they'll alter their approach to do so -- if the CB isn't the best player at the time of the pick, they'll take the better player even if it's not at CB.
Mike - The sheer number of flops the Pats have had in DBs is astounding. In a world of being accountable - who is evaluating these DBs? We need to get the person evaluating OL to start evaluating DBs - could not be much worse!
Dan, we know the list (Meriweather, Wheatley, Butler, Chung, Dowling) since 2007 and it's not good. On the flip side, McCourty looks like a hit. Jury still out on Wilson, and Dowling can still turn it around, although relying on him has proven to be a shaky bet. Start with BB.
Do you think pats should release dennard
Absolutely not. They knew about all of this when they drafted him. Nothing new here.
Hi Mike - Is the combine where the Wonderlic tests are administered? Not that they're any more revealing about players than a straight 40m time, but what sort of options do teams have at the combine for measuring things in line with the mental aspects of the game?
Brian, not sure if you're aware, but there is a new test -- in addition to the Wonderlic -- that is being issued this year. Those are the main things at the combine to measure the mental side, coupled with personal interviews and putting them up on the whiteboard.
What's your opinion? Whose a better choice, Xavier Rhodes, Jonathan Banks, or Matt Elam? And should we try to sign Wallace, resign Vollmer, and trade for Harvin?
Jason, I like the idea of Rhodes because he's a big corner, but I'd say let's not put that in black and white at this time because I'm still getting into the draft stuff and not ready to "endorse" a player yet at this point. Wallace is the type of WR I think could help them, but I'd caution them on investing top-of-the-market dollars in him. Like re-signing Vollmer, Talib and Welker, if possible, but the market could be tough to get all three back. So to sum it up, I'd start with the in-house options. If they can get all three back, I think that would be a huge start to free agency for the Patriots.
All these talks about how important Wes Walker and some other free agents to the Patriots, what we need is just some folks who can make the plays at the critical moments, look at Manningham and Tyree, where are they now, teams don't necessarily want them long terms but some somehow they made the plays at the crucial moments and they won the Superbowls. Look at Givens and Branch, critical plays at the critical moments so we won the Superbowl, Wes didn't make some critical plays, as much as we love his toughness, not sure we should have him for a huge sum of money...
So let's ask the question, Tony, "at what cost?" I think a two-year, $16 million deal would be a fair compromise. $8 million per season for Welker in 2013 and 2014 -- I'd do that. I'm not sure Welker would, though. That's why the market, and another team potentially upping the ante, could ultimately decide if Welker is back.
How are the patriots draft decisions made? I am interested in the interaction between the scouts and BB. I find it hard to believe that BB is able to know a lot about college players when teams have full time GMs like Ozzie Newsome
Joe, it starts with the scouts and director of college scouting Jon Robinson going through the thorough year-round process of scouting the talent. Nick Caserio is a big part of that too. Then at this time of year, BB enters the process more from a time perspective. There is naturally some catch-up to do for BB, but that's completely normal. The structure the Patriots have is not an outlier when compared to other teams.
As much as people want to see a DB or a WR taken in the first round by the Patriots, I think the talent of OL and DL that will be available will be hard to pass on. I'm hoping DJ Fluker or John Jenkins will be available. Both are Day 1 starters in the trenches.
Kell, I'd just say we should never lock in on a position. Sure, it's nice when the best player matches the biggest need, but I do believe that if you try to focus more on the position, chances are you'll be back at the draft podium looking for the same position sooner rather than later. I like Fluker as a potential Vollmer replacement if Vollmer isn't back.
Mike looking at the Lack of Talent in this year's Draft Makes me wonder if the Patriots will pull off a Blockbuster Trade like they did back in 2007 what are your thoughts about this?
Anthony, they only have 5 picks and I think they want more ammunition. I would anticipate more deals that multiply picks, even into 2014 if that's what it takes.
Mike, how do you see the RB situation unfolding? We seem awfully deep with Ridley, Vereen, Woody, Bolden, and Demps in the stable.
Mark, I think they'd like to bring Woodhead back as a free agent. Bring him back and the position is pretty much set, outside of maybe adding a fullback. In terms of how the snaps are divided, last season it was Ridley (45 percent), Woodhead (34 percent), Vereen (12 percent) and Bolden (7 percent). I'd view Demps, in this scenario for 2013 if everyone is back, in the specialist category (returner, niche offensive player). This is a high-impact position in terms of hits taken, so the more depth, the better.
Mike, allegedly the Patriots need a physical, hard hitting safety that has athleticism to cover TEs and slot receivers. Isn't that just the player Pat Chung and Brandon Meriweather is (or at least, should have been!)? So you can't fault the Patriots for not trying to fill that spot.
Wouldn't put Meriweather in that category, but it was what they were hoping Chung could be. Can't fault the effort, but they are accountable for the lack of execution.
Mike, of all the receivers in the draft, which do you feel is the best fit for the Pats?
Alex, I'm not sure he's going to be there, but someone in the profile of Cal's Keenan Allen stands out. He's 6-2/6-3 and 210 pounds and viewed as a potential Anquan Boldin type. First-round talent.
Hey Mike! What an interesting off-season this is going to be in regards to the draft and free agency. We usually have very few glaring holes on the roster and a ton of draft picks, but now have 5 picks with holes at CB, S, OL, DL, and WR, which makes me think BB may surprise us and back a Brinks truck up to the front yard of a specific free agent... if you were Caserio, who would be your #1 target (from another team) who you'd give a full Brinks truck to?
Bill, I'd be surprised if there was a big free-agent deal. The way I think the Patriots view things is that with the salary cap not rising this year and next year, it creates a situation where mismanaged teams are going to have to cut some solid players. Thus, the market is filled with solid players at a "good value" price. I think they want to be able to take advantage of that aspect of free agency. ...
... If there are big deals, I think they will be with their own players, the Welkers, Talibs and Vollmers.
Mike - I see that Mankins has a 10 mil cap #. Is releasing him an option or is the dead money that would hit the cap prohibitive?
Correct on the last part, Dave. If you were to take the drastic step of releasing Mankins, which I see as highly unlikely, the cap hit would be greater than the savings as I understand it. He'll be here, and he should be. He's a real good player. Had a down 2012 because he was playing through significant injuries.
Pats need some more veteran role-players on defense in the Roman Phifer, Otis Smith mold.. guys who are reliable to 'do their job'
I like the thought, Dante. A little more toughness too, I believe is something they'd like to add as well. That comes in multiple forms.
hey mike,it has been suggested that receiver, in the pat's scheme is a difficult position with all the options. not many can pick it up right away or if all. is db similarly difficult in the pat's scheme? the number of draft misses for the pat's is high and i was curious if you believe it is more of a talent issue or more of a cerebral issue?
I view it more as talent evaluation. If any of these DBs were emerging elsewhere, I'd lean toward the first part. But they're not.
Hey Mike, What are some of the things you are looking at while down at the combine? Are there any specific "events" that you go to?
Lav, the main things I look for are different than the scouts. I am not a scout and don't pretend to be one. I watch the game, study the game, and feel like I have a good working knowledge of personnel and the NFL's 32 teams, but I also know what I don't know, if that makes sense. So I don't come here to scout. I come here to listen to the coaches and executives talk about their teams, to listen to the prospects in their media interviews and see how they react, and then try to piece that together with the pure football side (watching on NFL Network, I find, is the best). I always feel more informed about the draft after going through this step in the process.
No specific events, other than the local establishments at night, because often times, that's where the best "information" is gleaned ...
Welker rumored to Miami............double edge sword? Strengthen your O and weaken a division opponent?
Dan, we just heard from Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland this morning and they have a ton of cap space to spend and 5 of the first 82 picks in the draft. They are in a good position. I like Welker for them , in theory, but I wonder how he'd fit in Mike Sherman's scheme. When I think of Mike Sherman offenses, I don't see players with Welker's skill set thriving. Might not be a scheme fit, but I like the idea in theory.
Mike, Are there any tight ends of note on the scouts' radar at the combine that you've heard about?
Tom, we'll hear from some of the TEs today at the combine, but here is the word on the group: Was poor before all the juniors who declared bolstered it to an average level. As for specific names, I'd focus more on the FBs than TEs from the Patriots' perspective. And just like anything else, you want to make sure you have your home base covered, and that's why Harvard's Kyle Juszczyk shouldn't be overlooked as a realistic option for the Patriots.
Mike,If I retire will I end up in the Patriots Hall of Fame?
Lonie, was great to bump into you this morning. I think you fall short when it comes to Patriots Hall of Fame consideration, but we will always fondly remember your snow angels.
There have been some good players released due to salary cap issues (Buf, Jets). Are there any players recently released that would be worth pursuing in Free Agency?
CB, I think there are a lot of good players. I expect even more to come available. That's why there is no rush to pounce now. A player like Bills safety George Wilson, for example, made some plays that caught my eye in recent years (his INT of Brady in Buffalo, on a pass intended for Rob Gronkowski, was one of the best plays of that season against New England from this view.) The list will grow. A smart team like the Patriots, which will leave itself flexibility, will be in position to capitalize on this infusion of talent in the market.
Hi Mike, Does Dennard's conviction pressure the Pats to play tag with Talib? Does that give Talib leverage in negotiations? And why are the Pats becoming more open to having players who have some serious character issues? It's not like them. Would they let both Dennard and Talib go and deplete our already subpar secondary to keep the old Patriot image? Thanks.
My initial instinct is that the Patriots won't use the tag at all, but post-Dennard verdict, I do see it as a greater possibility on Talib than I previosusly did. I think the Patriots want Talib, I think Talib wants to be here, and now it's a matter of getting it done at the fair dollar figure for both sides.
From afar, it seems like Marcus Cannon had a disappointing 2012. Is this fair? Any scuttlebutt on how the Pats' staff assesses his development? Is he ready to become a bigger contributor?
I look at Cannon's 2012 season a bit differently. In his role as the third tackle, he filled in admirably for Sebastian Vollmer when called upon and the offense didn't miss a beat. Based on what we saw in preseason from Cannon, which was scary at times, I thought he improved. I still wonder if he's a better fit at guard, but he proved himself capable in that fill-in role. Can he be a full 16-game starter? That's a tough one. I don't think we have the answer right now.
Hello Mike - taking a break from the Tony Gonzales retirement watch down here to ask if you think any of the recently released Jets defenders may draw interest from the Patriots?
MG, I'd be surprised if we see Bart Scott here. He's really slowed down. Less sure on Calvin Pace. Maybe some value there, but he's not the difference-maker he once was. Would be more depth-related.
What is the Best & the Worst NFL Stadium that you have Been to(Building)?
Chris, I'd say the best stadium was Lambeau Field for the history of it all. Great atmospehere. My least favorite might be Fed-Ex Field in Washington, and it's more of a selfish reason: The press box is low and in the end zone. Tough viewpoint to watch/analyze a game.
Starting to really think that the Pats will never ever win a SB under Bill again.... His failures to fix the pass rush, Secondary and deep threat has killed this team when it matters.... Thoughts? The blueprint is out there how to beat the pats in the playoffs. There are only a few teams that can do it but it's all the teams they have to beat in the playoffs to win.... The d can not make stops ever when needed... The o can be stopped because WR can't beat people one on one and no opens the field.... No pass rush.... Why doesn't Bill ever fix these problems? They have been problems for years and years and nothing changes.......
I wouldn't count them out. I think NFL context is important here. Not sparing BB the accountability for the struggles to more decisively address some of the defensive questions, but if we look around the league, which team has more consistently been in the championship hunt than the Patriots? They'll be in the mix again in 2013. A quick story ...
... When we arrived in Indianapolis at the airport, we bumped into veteran ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen, who shared a story of how he lives next to some Patriots fans who have been asking him why the team hasn't been able to "get over the hump." Mortensen relayed his response: Look around the NFL ... who is consistently getting over the hump. Sometimes you just get beaten. ...
... The purpose of sharing the story is that I think the Patriots' early success in BB's tenure has created an unrealistic expectation in some circles. I completely understand the frustration on the defensive questions. These are topics we've been talking about for about 5 years now. But if it was that easy, every team would be doing it.
Mike, with Brady just six games behind Drew Brees for most consecutive games with a TD pass, does it stand to reason that the Saints will most likely play at New England in Week 7 of the NFL season? Does the NFL look at things like that (potential for records to be broken) when making the schedule? I know they asked the Redskins when they can expect RGIII back so they can schedule the Redskins prime time games later in the season. Also, since we play Pittsburgh at home, one would think this might take place as it usually does around Halloween, maybe the 27th of October. Based on the calendar from Gillete Stadium, the Revs have home games on September 7th, 21st and 28th so I expect the Patriots will start on the road in 2013, then be at home for week 2 and back on the road for weeks 3 and 4--basically the same schedule in terms or home/away as 2012 when they were @Tennessee, Arizona, @Baltimore and @Buffalo? Can you tell some of us are already gearing up for 2013-2014!?!
Fun stuff, Jay. The NFL loves storylines, but I don't think they take it to that level. If Patriots-Saints winds up being Week 7, I might change my opinion on that. ... On the Revs stuff, it isn't unusual for there to be a Saturday game and then a Sunday Patriots game. I don't think I'd look too deeply into that stuff.
Mike, I really see no need to resign Welker if we resign Edelman. He was tearing teams up right until he got injured. I think we should resign Edelman, then focus on a deep threat like Wallace and address the pass rush and secondary in the draft.
Adam, in theory, I understand the viewpoint. But I think it overlooks the durability and reliability of Welker. I'm not saying you're wrong, but based on what we've seen in recent years, how confident are you that Edelman will make it through 2013 injury free?
Mike, chances of Arrington being re-signed?
Ryan, I think they like Arrington as a slot corner, and would pay him fair market value. If you're Arrington, though, don't you owe it to yourself to test the market and see if a team views you as a No. 2 corner? I think you do, and that's why I expect the market to potentially dictate his return. If it's as a No. 3, I think he's in NE. If it's as a No. 2, I think he probably ends up elsewhere.
OK, please explain to me how Welker gets labeled as a "system guy?" Makes no sense to me, the guy plays every game, gets open, makes catches (except for 2 we really really needed) & gets tough YAC. How is he just a product of playing w/Brady? I assume every team in the league wants that from their WR's.
It's a balance. Let's start with this: Welker is a solid football player, regardless of system. Can't argue that. Remember why the Patriots traded for him in the first place? It was because he was killing them while a member of the Dolphins. That's one layer. But the other layer is that the slot receiver in the Patriots' offense is a high-production position -- first with Troy Brown, then with Wes Welker. Part of it is the way the offense is built. So like most everything else, I don't see this one as black and white.
Mike, I know the Dolphins have a ton of cap space, but aren't we all forgetting how many of their own free agents (Long, Hartline etc) they have to figure out ways to sign/replace? They may have a lot of money, but they have a lot more free agents than most. Do they really have the ammo to worry the Pats this year?
Very good point, Chris. That's a big part of this for them. As BB often says, the one thing you don't want to do is miss on an evaluation of your own players. ... That said, still like the Dolphins in terms of being in position to take the next step -- as long as Ryan Tannehill continues to develop.
Who wins the 40 yrd dash at ESPN Boston?
Ian, I'll answer this way: Whose alarm was going off at 6:30 a.m. this morning, so he could get a workout in before today's media availability? Not Yates. Not Rodak. It was Reiss.
Of course, if you saw the quality of the workout, you might be a little frightened. Out of shape, indeed. Not sure BB would pass me on his conditioning test.
First, love the work you do keeping Pats Nation informed.Do you think Jeff Tarpinian could be the cover backer somefeel we need?
Kent, I think that's the skill set that initially opened the eyes of the coaching staff with Tarpinian in his rookie season. He did some good things in those 7-on-7 drills in the offseason and training camp. I wouldn't count it out, but I think relying on it would be a stretch at this point.
Good morning MikeI fully understand you can not be fully prepared for this question, but just for fun...If you could add one player (projected 29th or later) and one player only out of this draft who would it be? Part B: One free agent (including our own) and one free agent only?
Good to be back in your neck of the woods, Clark. At No. 29, I'll go with Alabama DL Jesse Williams. On the free agent, it will be Aqib Talib.
Mike. we're going to be in NE on vacation this summer (Last week of July) Do you know when Pats camp opens? Will we have a chance to see practice while we're there?
Date not set yet, but if I had to project, I'll guess Thursday, July 25.
Mike, as much as I loved the impact Talib made on the D last year I would not like to see the Pats sign him to a deal. Like it has been stated before I believe his impact was a result to his play but more importantly to the fact that McCourty could move to safety. My concern lies with the fact that he has a great history of not being able to stay on the field. It is a gamble that should only be taken into consideration is if the money is right or if it is and incentive based contract. Instead, I would love to see them go after another tall corner in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. I feel he would be a great value pick up. He has great history of staying on the feild along with production while his time in ARI. Also, to touch on the draft, I would love to see the Pats take Alec Ogletree if he falls in the draft, after his DUI. He is a freak of nature that provides versitility all over the field. Should be a fun guy to watch at the combine. Let me know your thoughts, really enjoy the chat.
Steve, I also like DRC as an option for the Patriots. Nice call. These are always tough situations when we're talking about injuries, but I'll tell you what I know: Talib's injuries this year weren't a result of his lack of work. He actually should be commended for playing through what he did, from my view. Obviously, that doesn't answer the main question: Is Talib an injury risk? I think if the Patriots can re-sign him, get him into their program for the offseason, it wouldn't worry me going forward.
On Ogletree, I don't know enough about him and his off-field situation right now. Have to punt on that one at this point.
Mike, who's the better choice: Ed Reed, Dwight Freeney, or Charles Woodson?
Reed for me, but it all comes down to cost.
Let's go for another 5, but after a short delay...
Im gonna be that guy and ask you the chances BB picks Tebow off the heap and converts him into a fullback/special teamer
Zach, it wouldn't surprise me. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels obviously has a very high opinion of Tebow as a player and person.
Mike, do you think Devin McCourty has the necessary instincts to play safety at a high level? We know he has the athleticism, ball skills, and tackling ability, but I'm talking about the split-second instincts a safety needs to change his mindset from "don't get beat deep" or "cover my area" to jumping crossing routes and committing to receivers once the throw is imminent. Being at all the home games this year, I started thinking about this when I noticed receivers like Torrey Smith and Andre Johnson consistently catching deep ins in front of him. He will always be there to make the tackle, but will he ever be the guy that sees the play and gets there a half second sooner to break it up?
I do Kyle. Entering 2012, I thought the smarter play was to leave McCourty at cornerback. The rationale was that I thought the shaky safety play behind him in 2011 contributed to his less-than-inspiring play at CB. But after watching him at safety this year, I think I like him better there. I see more upside for his future from a playing perspective.
Mike,I think Talib was great down the stretch but a lot of people seem to disagree with me. Overall i believe Talib is our best DB, and the best corner we've had since Asante Samuel, but whats your take on Talib as a player?
The truth is probably in the middle -- don't think Talib was the second coming of Ty Law, but he was a difference-maker for them. They built game-plans around him, to the degree that the team does that. I like him and I like what I'm hearing about how he approached things behind the scenes.
I've never really followed the combine closely before; what are some of the factors that coaches & GMs will look for in a prospect?
Matt, the medical information gleaned here, coupled with the interview process and getting to know the player, is probably the biggest thing. Then when it comes to positions like CB and WR, getting as true a gauge on speed as possible. This is the place to do it. Obviously, there is more, but that's the snapshot.
In fairness Mike, Law could grab and hold Revis style. Talib is not granted such liberties.
I don't know, Chris, I saw some Seahawks CBs do some of that this year that I was surprised wasn't a penalty.
But fair point, the rules are different now.
Is Steve Breaston, just released from Kansas City a possible option to replace Wes Welker if the Pats let him walk? He had production a couple years ago and was good for the Cardinals. He also should come fairly cheap.
I don't think so, Matt. I like San Diego for Breaston, reuniting with this former head coach in Arizona, Ken Whisenhunt, who is now the Chargers' offensive coordinator.
There is no way the Patriots let Vollmer hit the open market is there? I can see them letting Talib and Welker explore, but not Vollmer. Too important, too skilled and too valuable. Can see Patriots resigning lesser free agents (Woodhead, Edelman) and slapping SV with franchise tag while waiting for Welker and Talib to figure out what the money is being offered elsewhere and evaluating the teams next step from there. Do you agree?
Matthew, they want him, but the health questions cloud the picture a bit. The market for a solid RT with the ability to swing to LT has been around 6-7m per year. Would they go there? I think they would, but injury protection/structure would be key. Might be a case where Vollmer tests the market to see if a team will up the ante. If they don't, a door would be open to return.
Dwight Freeney - Patriot in 2013?
I'd be fairly surprised at that one, only because I think another team will pay Freeney more than the Patriots would based on the need/role they'd have for him.
Job question: at the combine, how do you, Field, and Rodak break up the duties (i.e. who covers what the next day)?
Let's end on this one. We have a little bit of a unique situation here. Mike Rodak is networking with NFL folks as he gets set to graduate from Providence College. So he doesn't have many responsibilities, if any. Me and Field are splitting them up. We devised our game-plan this morning to split time between news conferences and prospect interviews. Nothing really fancy about it. Just teamwork and constant communication ... and a great passion for the topic we're writing about.
Thanks for the interest and thanks to everyone for chatting. Back to combine work now. We'll do it again next week.