Join Date: Dec 2005
Patriots Offseason Notes And Mock Draft
Just some notes on each position going into free agency and the draft.
- At quarterback, look for the Patriots to do one or two things before next season. First, I wouldn't be surprised to see Tom Brady get an extension - his deal runs out in 2010. He could be looking for even more than last time, but they'll pay up. Second, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see them take a project quarterback or sign a veteran Belichick likes to back up Brady. Matt Cassel didn't show much this year and if Brady goes down, their plans are ruined.
- Kevin Faulk's arrest might make the team's running situation a little cloudier. Personally, I'm still a fan of Morris and Faulk backing up Maroney, with Evans and/or Eckel getting carries as well, but our backup running backs are still pretty old and I wouldn't be surprised if they took another good value at some point in the draft, although I doubt they'd take someone like a McFadden earlier on, just someone who slips late into the draft.
- I think Randy Moss will be back, but Donte' Stallworth is as good as gone and so their tentative wide receiver rotation will look something like Moss, Jackson/Gaffney, Welker. I wouldn't be opposed to Jackson getting the starts at the beginning of the year because he has some intriguing tools and if he fails, we could go back to the Moss/Gaffney/Welker rotation that closed the year. Still, I think the Patriots add one or two receivers, whether it's Marty Booker, Justin McCareins or a draft prospect that slips a little bit.
- Ben Watson is obviously going to be the opening day starter for the Patriots at tight end barring anything drastic - what's more interesting is what'll happen with the team behind him. Kyle Brady is very old and although he's a solid blocker, he doesn't give the team much in terms of catching the ball. David Thomas has been a disappointment so far and he can't really be counted on to block much. Bill Belichick loves tight ends, so I expect them to take a tight end at some point in the draft, especially if one of the top ones slips.
- The team is probably set on the left side of their line with Light, Mankins, Koppen. I'm also a fan of Wesley Britt, who has done a nice job backing up Light, and Russ Hochstein, who backs up Mankins and Koppen. On the right is where problems crop up. Stephen Neal missed a lot of games last year and Hochstein isn't super reliable. A late round guard or a move by Ryan O'Callaghan could be in the cards. Nick Kaczur can clearly be upgraded on the right side, and I think the Patriots have to address this in the first three rounds, picking up a fifth starter.
- The defensive line looks to be pretty set at first glance, especially with Warren and Wilfork. However, both Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green are going to be free agents after the season and there's a chance neither is starting for us in the season that follows. Seymour's play dropped off pretty significantly after he came back from injury and Jarvis Green started very strong but wore down after four games or so. A high-round defensive lineman that can play the 3-4 end spot would likely signal the end of a Seymour/Green combo.
- Linebacker is clearly the most interesting position this offseason. The Patriots could add three future starters in the draft if they so wanted - Tedy Bruschi may retire by Friday, Junior Seau could retire as well, and Mike Vrabel's not as good as his numbers, as about half of his sacks this season were scheme sacks. The one constant is Adalius Thomas outside, as he really stepped up late in the season. I think Vrabel stays outside and they sign one veteran linebacker and draft one in a middle round, with a hybrid possible as well.
- Defensive back is pretty interesting as well. Harrison has a year or two left, and James Sanders has been solid. I think what they do is have Meriweather play corner another year until Harrison retires, and then shift Sanders over to Harrison's spot while Meriweather takes Sanders'. Asante Samuel likely won't be back, but if not look for them to sign Randall G. to compliment Hobbs; he's vastly underrated. Physical corners will likely be added as well.
1. ILB/OLB Keith Rivers, Southern Cal
Gives the Patriots a future starter inside - with Thomas, that's two of four filled.
2. DT/DE/OLB Jason Jones, Eastern Michigan
Versatile guy who fits the mold of a traditional Pats linebacker, future Vrabel replacement.
3. OT/G Oniel Cousins, U.T.E.P.
Cousins has some guard/tackle versatility and could replace Kaczur relatively soon.
3. CB Chevis Jackson, Louisiana St.
Patriots are apparently smitten with the corner and if there's one lock, it's this.
4. TE/OT Brad Cottam, Tennessee
Cottam is a perfect replacement for Kyle Brady in the future, another great blocker.
5. RB Anthony Aldridge, Houston
A very productive college player who could take over for Kevin Faulk soon on third-down.
6. SS Pig Brown, Missouri
A player who I was really impressed with that adds some depth in the secondary.
7. QB Kyle Wright, Miami (FL)
Wright is toolsy and was an excellent prep quarterback who could possibly improve.