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May 1, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Reiss

Mike
  (11:59 AM)

Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. We'll get started in a few.

Mike
  (12:04 PM)

Here at the stadium after media access with LB Dont'a Hightower (11 a.m. ET). My biggest takeaway is something I've been curious about since Hightower was drafted -- could he part of the solution playing closer to the line of scrimmage in sub packages? It's something he did at Alabama but we haven't seen much of it here. He seems to be a better player when playing toward the line of scrimmage, not going backwards in coverage, so I wonder if that's something the team explores this year. Hightower said, point blank, he'd prefer it (while being on board with whatever the coaches decide).

Stephen (Ashland, VA) [via mobile]

Mike- as a Pats fan outside of New England, I'm excited about going to FedEx Field in august to watch my team play locally, even if it's just preseason ball. Aside from the marquee non divisional games (Denver, Panthers rematch, @Packers) If I were to pick just one game to travel to and watch at Gillette (or at least the east coast) what would be the most intriguing game? I'm on a budget Mike! Last year was Pittsburgh (great game to watch!)

Mike
  (12:06 PM)

Stephen, this would be easier if you were in Ashland, Mass., not Ashland, Va. Love the road schedule compared to the home slate. I prefer the afternoon games so how about Bears at Patriots, Oct. 26? Chance for some crisp but comfortable New England fall weather and good football against a competitive NFC team. Otherwise, I'd say the home opener against the Raiders. Always a level of excitement for that home opener.

Haggs (Malden)

I think Marquise Lee is the biggest steal in the draft. He is flying under the radar and has dropped to the early 20's in the mock drafts. Would the Pats move up a bit and take such a receiver?

Mike
  (12:07 PM)

I'd be surprised if they move up and take a receiver, Haggs. Just as I felt pretty confident they would come out of last year's draft with at least one WR, I'm thinking it would be a surprise if they invest in that position in the first round this year. Just not enough spots.

Gabriel (Detroit)

Hey Mike do you think Bill Belichick would trade out the 29th pick to acquire more picks or do you see him trading up in this year NFL Draft

Mike
  (12:09 PM)

Gabriel, a lot of it depends on if a player unexpectedly slides down the board and within striking distance, similar to Chandler Jones and Hightower in 2012. So if I had to sum it up, I'd say 20 is probably the marker for a trade up. LB Ryan Shazier and DE Stephon Tuitt would be the presumed targets in that scenario. But if I had to put my chips down on one side of the table or the other, I'd say trading down or sticking is more likely.

corky NPR Florida [via mobile]

Hi Mike, not a fan of the may draft, interfering with my Bruins games... So not paying enough attention, how many real slots are really open for rookies on this stacked Patriot team this year? Can't you see Bill trading all this years picks into next year?

Mike
  (12:12 PM)

Go Bruins. As Rob Gronkowski said on a recent WAAF interview, "playoff hockey is legit." Great action. I think they need to come out of this draft with some help along the OL, in particular. Can't go three straight years without drafting a highly-rated player on the line, because it affects the pipeline any successful team wants and limits flexibility in the future. I have my eyes on Nevada OT/G Joel Bitonio as a consideration at No. 29 if available and LSU G/C Trai Turner at 62 if available. Wouldn't be surprised if we have a double-dip there in this year's draft.

Mike
  (12:12 PM)

Not saying they'd go 1-2 picks along o-line but I do believe that's an area they'll look hard at early.

Suluuq the Eskimo (Kotzebue Ak) [via mobile]

Tom Brady is more of a draft surprise than a steal. There was a reason he fell to 199. Other teams didn't choose him, including the Patriots. He wasn't deemed important enough to warrant an earlier pick. He proved them all wrong. They ALL, including the Patriots, made a mistake. Its very good the Patriots did choose him. Hes a future hall if fame QB. One of he all-time greats. His spirals to Randy Moss are classic.

Mike
  (12:14 PM)

Not sure there's anything I can add here, other than the voice in my head from the "Brady 6" that went something like this -- "The one thing they couldn't do was cut him open and see what was in his heart." One of the all-time greats and a real treat to cover him.

Jrod (coralsprings Florida) [via mobile]

Greetings mike from deep in dolphin country. With the patriots thin at linebacker a player I havent seen brought up much Is LB shane skov from from Stanford. Before he tore his ACL I remember hearing a lot of experts being pretty high on him. His knee injury messed up his draft stock but what do you think about a late round pick up by the pats or am I just wishful thinking.

Mike
  (12:14 PM)

Jrod, they had Skov in for a pre-draft visit about a month ago. Keep him on the radar. Plays with a lot of energy. Leader type. Ran pretty slow in pre-draft workouts, so that's one issue to explore. Glad you brought him up.

jabez (india) [via mobile]

Hey Mike, what are the chances of Darrelle Revis getting a long-term deal and staying with the Patriots?

Mike
  (12:16 PM)

Jabez, a long way to go on that one, but I think we can say with authority: The Patriots are in better position than any other team right now because he's under their employ.

Rich (New Jersey)

Hi Mike, Dustin Keller passed his tests on his knee, with Rob Gronkowski also coming off IR with knee problems and there is DJ Williams and Michael Hoomanawanui, will New England carry 4 tight ends this year if they do sign Keller ?

Mike
  (12:17 PM)

Rich, no harm in bringing Keller in if it's a minimum-level deal with an injury split and the knee is OK. As for him passing tests on his knee, I'm curious who said that. An agent or someone close to the player would naturally want that out there. So I'd just like a little more information on that before assuming everything is fine with the knee.

Kyle Gonzales (California)

West Coast Patriots Fan here! I would really like to see the Pats draft/sign a safety. I am tired of seeing Gregory (Released) look timid/slow getting to the apposing teams rusher/receiver. Hopefully in the second/third round Pats could nab Deone Bucannon. Thoughts?

Mike
  (12:18 PM)

One of my favorites in this year's draft, Kyle. Would be a nice addition and was one of the team's 30 in-house visits with out-of-town prospects. Let's keep him on the radar.

Hank who likes pucks (Canada)

Mike, how do you see Michael Lombardi's recent hire influencing the Pat's picks in the upcoming 2014 NFL draft?

Mike
  (12:20 PM)

Hank, I like pucks too. Went to Game 1 of the Bruins-Red Wings series and have decided that as much as I'd like to go back for the Bruins-Canadiens series, I won't allow myself back in the building because they lost that Game 1. Can't do anything to disrupt the good karma. On Lombardi, he's another trusted set of eyes, and it sounds like he's spending some extra time at the RB position. They need a RB from my view so I believe his influence will be felt in that area.

Jeff M. (Cambridge, MA)

Hightower has been a hard player to gauge over his first 2 seasons, at times it's easy to see why he was a first rd. pick, while other times I second guess the pick. I loved him in Alabama and I want to love him even more now that he's a Patriot but it's been hard to justify going all in with him. Where do you see Hightower from this coming season on in the Patriots plans? With the emergence of Collins and the Return of Mayo is the best yet to come for the kid?Or Will he suffer the same fate as Brandon Spikes once his contract is up? Thanks! Go Pats!

Mike
  (12:22 PM)

Great question, Jeff. I really don't think we have the answer yet, but here's the thing that stands out to me about Hightower -- he's sort of that tweener and in today's space game who is almost too big to be playing off-the-line LB but also doesn't quite fit in the box of what you'd be looking for in a 4-3 defensive end. So there is a creativity the coaching staff has to have to tap his assets and last year they got boxed in a bit after Mayo's injury ...

Mike
  (12:24 PM)

... I was just standing next to Hightower for our media interview and I'm looking at his sheer size and my thought was, "If I was a coach, this is the body type I want -- big, phsyical, hard to move." It's just finding the best way to put it to use and not expose some of the areas in which he's a bit deficient. I like the idea of him playing closer to the line in sub, maybe stand him up on the edge, and see how he looks playing forward. I think there's more he can do and we haven't yet scratched the surface on some of those things. Seems like a genuine guy as well, based on the limited interactions we have with him.

Tyler (New Hampshire)

Hey Mike, who is the best pure pass rusher that might be available to the Pats late in the first round?

Mike
  (12:25 PM)

DeMarcus Lawrence (Boise State) or Kony Ealy (Missouri) were two prospects who came to mind right off the bat. Lawrence is a guy I'm catching up on a bit and I sort of like him.

Mike
  (12:25 PM)

Just not sure they fit at 29, though. Maybe a bit rich.

kais1man (NYC)

Hey Mike...lets say the pats go OL/DL in the first round if they actually stay...if they get to 62 and both Buchannon and Niklas (or CJ) are there who would you rather they take? I know we want offense, but man what a secondary that would be with buchannon laying the lumber, mccourty roaming the deep and browner and revis at CB (not to mention Logan Ryan and company)

Mike
  (12:27 PM)

Bucannon would be my choice, then hope I can get Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz in the third (maybe need a minor trade-up?).

Steve (CT)

Do you think the Hernandez situation affects the team's approach to taking players with off field risks?

Mike
  (12:27 PM)

Yes, Steve, maybe a few more questions asked by owner Robert Kraft.

Alex (Chapel Hill)

Ok Mike I am going to put you on the spot and ask you two make a bold prediction: what lesser need does Belichick address much earlier in the draft than every one is predicting? And no "best player available" cop-outs!

Mike
  (12:27 PM)

Have a lot of people said OL? That would be my guess.

Dan (Leominster, Ma)

Mike, Lombardi looking at running backs after the Richardson debacle in Clev?

Mike
  (12:28 PM)

He didn't draft him, right? Just traded him, which was a brilliant stroke if you ask me, to get a first-rounder for him.

Mike
  (12:28 PM)

Just one year for Lombardi in Cleveland as GM.

Mike
  (12:28 PM)

5-yard penalty, Dan, for unnecessary negativity.

Jack (MA)

Mallett and the first rounder. What would we get in return?

Mike
  (12:29 PM)

Don't think Mallett has enough value to other teams to warrant much of a move up the board with that package. Might not get you anything.

mike (west roxbury)

With Coach Scar retired .. can we count on being able to develop low draft picks and undrafted O Linemen as we have in the past? Should we draft OL higher (rounds 1-3)? Certainly worked with Seabass, Solder and Mankins ...Also, with so few spots .. not all of the draft choices will make the team .. why not go quality instead of quantity this year ... or stash future high picks on any trade out ...

Mike
  (12:30 PM)

I'm on board with this line of thinking, Mike, but it's not the only reason I feel like they have to address OL. Can't go three straight drafts without addressing that spot IMO. Affects the flow of team-building. Connolly, Cannon in last year of contracts and Vollmer coming off serious injury. Wendell shakier in 2013 than 2012 and lost his biggest champion (IMO) in the building in Scarnecchia. So some questions there. Need to add a few blue-chip pieces if possible.

Marco (Brazil)

Hey Mike, i agree that Shazier would be a great pick due to his speed and cover abilities. Though his name appears to be hot now and he propably won't past Green Bay at 21. My question is if it really worth to Trade up and give up a 3rd pick and our first in such a deep draft for him? Keep up the great work

Mike
  (12:31 PM)

Marco, I'd be more inclined to move back. I like Shazier, but I think I'd rather have the 3 to take a TE like Fiedorowicz (if there) or another area.

Tron (Waltham, MA)

Hey Mike,I feel the needs on the interior line are strongly underrated. Seems like when the offense has struggled in the past (i.e. recent playoff losses) it's because of pressure up the middle. Mankins is a stud, Wendell and Connolly are solid and the young guys like Kline have shown promise. That all said, the depth here is no different from the depth at DE, DT or LB so why isn't this at the top of people's lists especially seeing how it's consistently been a problem come playoff time.

Mike
  (12:33 PM)

Tron, you and I are thinking along the same lines. I like Kline too and they have some other developmental guys who could be a factor. But there's a difference between that and adding a top-level guy like a Joel Bitonio or Trai Turner who you could project for the next 4-5 years and feel pretty good about it.

Ron (Harwich)

Mike, what do you think about bringing in a game breaker in the later rounds? I was thinking either De'Anthony Thomas or Dri Archer. Neither are guys you want touching the ball a ton, but they both possess rare speed and play making ability to hit a home run from anywhere on the field.

Mike
  (12:34 PM)

Home-run hitting potential is always desired. Just don't see Archer there past the third round with that speed. My one question with Thomas is if everything checks off from off-field perspective.

Frankestein (Cary NC)

Mike what do you think of Scott Crichton ? You think he will be an option in round 2 ?

Mike
  (12:35 PM)

Seems like their type of guy, Frankestein (you da man). Let's keep him on the radar.

jack (worcester)

Mike, if mallet was in this draft, where would you rank him among this year QB class.

Mike
  (12:36 PM)

Jack, I haven't been overly blown away by what we've seen in the preseason. So if you're asking me would I rather have Mallett for one year at ~$700k or a rookie at ~$400k in 2014 and locked up for the next four years, I prefer the latter scenario up to the late rounds. Should be able to find a developmental QB in this pretty strong class.

Peter (TX)

Mike, Dustin Keller- ACL, MCL, PCL, dislocated kneecap. What was left to keep his leg in one piece?

Mike
  (12:37 PM)

Scary injury, Peter. If I'm the Patriots, I don't see much downside with a one-year minimum deal that has an injury split, if Keller is cleared and willing.

Matt (DNOMN8R314) (Elon NC)

Why have Hageman and Easley become the near-consensus mock draft selections at #29? I know you're not high on Hageman (inconsistent), and Easley's got a bad injury history, so what's the mindset behind these picks?

Mike
  (12:38 PM)

Matt, I'm honestly not sure. That's one of those where it's probably best to ask those doing the mocking. Wouldn't it be funny if the Patriots actually do take Hageman? They are unpredictable, right?

James (England)

What do you think of the odds that Belichick makes a suprise move, recieves mass criticism from Patriots fans, and then looks a genius by half way through the season. Seems to happen every year

Mike
  (12:39 PM)

James, I don't recall that storyline playing out after the Tavon Wilson second-round pick in 2012, but I understand the point. Probably best that we expect the unexpected.

Frankie (Outer Banks NC)

Do you think the NFL did the Patriots no favors by having the opener start at 1pm? They could have easily had it start at 4pm to make it a little bit cooler and comfortable for fans and the teams

Mike
  (12:39 PM)

Frankie, that decision probably tied to TV considerations mostly. I don't think they were out to stick it to the Patriots.

Justin (KY)

Mike,Randy Moss was acquired in a draft day trade deal, wasn't he? Is there anyone in the league that the Patriots may find interesting to try and make a similar move on?

Mike
  (12:41 PM)

Good thought, Justin. As we're chatting, I just saw a post from Pro Football Talk that the Buccaneers are open to trading QB Mike Glennon. Could that be the Patriots' developmental QB? I'd wheel a seventh-rounder for him, assuming the price won't be that high. That was something I believe one of our chatters mentioned last week.

Riders of Rohan Davey (Draft Room)

Mike, you always bring up Mark Harrison when talking about the move tight end spot. Why are you so up on him? Does he realistically have a shot of making this team?

Mike
  (12:43 PM)

Part of why I bring it up is that I think the smartest teams explore all in-house options before looking elsewhere and Harrison has good size. The 49ers had explored the possibility themselves when they lost Delanie Walker in free agency, recruiting Harrison as a rookie TE with that Walker-type "move" role in mind. So when another smart team thinks it, and you look at the size of the player, I think it's a good talking point to at least chew on.

James (Durham, NH)

Hi Mike, in 2010 we saw the Patriots take two TE's in the draft with incredible results. This year with Gronk out until who knows when and no other receiving threats at the position, could the Pats take two TE's again? Guys like Troy Niklas, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro, and CJ Fiedorowicz can be had in the 2nd-3rd round range while guys like Blake Annen and dare I say Colt Lyerla will be available later on and can present some late value. Taking two TE's could give Gronk time to heal and help solve the Pats' red zone issues they had while Gronk was out last year.

Mike
  (12:44 PM)

James, not a lot of quality TEs in this draft, so I'd be mildly surprised if they come out of the draft with two. A few things would have to fall right, but I don't think we can never say never.

Joe (RI)

What would be your perfect draft for the first 3 rounds?

Mike
  (12:46 PM)

Joe, it would start with Bill Belichick inviting me into the draft room. A player like Shazier dropping to 29 would be the next thing. Address interior OL with LSU guard Trai Turner in round two, and then get Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz in round three. Then I could relay all the juicy details from the draft room to you on ESPNBoston.com.

Tim (Brighton, MA)

Hey Mike,I personally like Dennard, and really liked what I saw from Ryan last year. When Browner comes back, assuming Arrington (yawn) has most of the slot responsibilities, I'm afraid one of those young guys get lost in the shuffle. I understand Arrington's contract, but could you see that 3rd CB position totally up for grabs this year?

Mike
  (12:48 PM)

I think Arrington will be in the slot, and then it will be Dennard/Ryan/Browner competing for that other outside spot opposite of Revis. Ryan could get a look at safety too.

Kevin Faulk (Baton Rouge, LA)

Jeremy Hill is the next Corey Dillon. Take him at the end of the 2nd (if he is still there) and thank me later.

Mike
  (12:49 PM)

Kevin, my question with Hill is whether it checks out off the field. When there are questions like that, I lean more toward the safer choice (e.g. BC's Andre Williams).

Peter (TX)

Mike, what changed your mind? A week or two ago, you did not seem to think G/C was a priority.

Mike
  (12:50 PM)

Maybe a minor shift, Peter, after getting a better grasp of each position and where the best value might project to fall.

Mark (Houston)

I completely disagree that they should not look at a top flight receiver, they still do not have a number 1 receiver on the team. I know they went 12-4 last year but the offense without gronk was not very good last year. They need a faster playmaker on the outside, if edelman is our number one receiver we are in trouble.

Mike
  (12:51 PM)

Understood, Mark, this is one we see differently. Thanks for sharing the viewpoint.

MarkJ (Japan)

Looking back ESPNBoston's own mock draft this week, which pick do you think was the most surprising, game-chaging pick?

Mike
  (12:53 PM)

MarkJ, for me it was DE Stephon Tuitt going to the Bengals because that's who I was going to pick for the Patriots at 29. So had to go to Bitonio with no trade-down option (we wanted to make a pick even though we said it was likely the team would trade out).

Paul (Chicago)

Teams rarely let go of their talented players (sometimes its money, scheme, or attitude) Why did the Seahawks let Browner leave?

Mike
  (12:55 PM)

Good question, Paul. I asked Pete Carroll that exact question at the NFL's annual meeing in March and he said the Seahawks are high on Byron Maxwell and they also didn't want to extend to that level financially. Have to respect the thought process based on the Seahawks' personnel success in recent years.

Paul M (NH)

With the Hightower talk today it got me thinking...who is Hightowers backup? If he were to get nicked up, who would come on the field?

Mike
  (12:55 PM)

Steve Beauharnais, most likely right now, Paul. Hightower credited his film study and dedication to his craft today.

Mike
  (12:56 PM)

Let's take a few more...

Washington [via mobile]

If Shazier is there at 29 and they don't take him, will you be sad? Say, sadder then when Woodhead signed with S.D.?

Mike
  (12:56 PM)

LOL, Washington. I'll just type these words into the blog and schedule an update for next year at this time that reads: "Told you so."

Mike
  (12:56 PM)

Just having fun.

Mike
  (12:57 PM)

One thing I'd say is that I have a lot of respect for the scouting process and I'm not going to position myself as any form of authirity in comparison to those in the scouting field becasue they have spent much more time on this than me. So let's keep that context.

Rick (Providence)

I think Jamie Collins is going to thrive next season and with Big Vince and Mayo back along with Revis and Browner I believe this defense can be special. We need to draft more playmakers in the front 7. I think Stephen Tuitt(sp) would be a great choice

Mike
  (12:58 PM)

Looks good on paper. I have some questions on Browner, but in theory, I can't disagree. My questions on Browner tie to the Seahawks' willingness to let him walk.

David (Bourne)

I'll flip a chair if they draft an interior lineman over a pass rusher in the 1st. Patchan in the 4th and you can move Marcus Cannon to full time G

Mike
  (12:59 PM)

Have to be comfortable with Patchan's injury history, right? Especially when you have Vollmer with the injury history and Cannon in the last year of his contract. It's about finding the value spots -- pass-rusher at 29 might not be an option. That's not the way the draft works -- where you lock in a position and say, "has to be this position at this spot."

Janice (San Juan, PR)

Solder and Connolly had concussions in '12/13 seasons, correct?

Mike
  (1:00 PM)

Correct, Janice.

Tom (Miami)

Mike, seeing as how you're not going to the game tonight and the B's will most assuredly win, what's your final score prediction? Let's go B's!

Mike
  (1:01 PM)

Let's end on this one, Tom, because as we now know, the Bruins' success is contingent on me staying away. Bruins 3, Canadiens 2, with Brad Marchand with the game-winner and we can all read stories about he rebounded from a tough opening series. Things are better in Boston at this time of year when the Bruins are in the playoffs. Great sport and great action. Let's enjoy.

Mike
  (1:02 PM)

Thanks to everyone for chatting. To my man, Dan in Leominster, I picked up the penalty flag because you are one of the most loyal readers and I appreciate you. Just had a lot of other questions and couldn't circle back.

Mike
  (1:03 PM)

Have a great day. We'll chat again next week.