After taking a one week break due to finals taking up all my time, the New England Patriots Roundtable is back! And it’s good timing considering how close we are to the NFL Draft. Things will hit a bit of a lull in the coming days, kind of like the calm before a storm. The visits are done, the workouts are done, and big boards are being finalized. We’re almost there folks, of course after that we have another number of months till the actual start of football, so enjoy this.
1. There have been some rumors that the Patriots are looking to move up in the NFL Draft next week. If you were the Patriots, who would you move up for?
Henry: If prospects TE Eric Ebron and DT Aaron Donald slip into the late teens, then I would seriously consider moving up for either one of them.
Duncan: There shouldn’t be much of an incentive to move up in the draft unless you’re looking to acquire a quarterback, and also Eric Ebron has the likelihood of getting taken in the early-to-mid 1st round. From a defensive tackle viewpoint, Louis Nix should be available for the Pats, but if they wanted Aaron Donald, a move might be necessary.
Cyrus: This draft is incredibly deep, so I honestly don’t see the need to trade up. However adding someone like Eric Ebron would really help boost the receiving corps, and I don’t think Ebron will fall to pick 29.
Matt: If I were to move up to get someone in this draft, it would either be for one of the top two safeties, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pyror, or tight end Eric Ebron. Personally, I feel that Ebron will be far too costly, considering the Patriots might have to move ahead of the Bills, so Clinton-Dix or Pryor would be my choice. Both have the ability to become top 10 or even top five safeties in this league, and would make the Patriots immediately better.
2. What position do you think is the deepest in this NFL Draft?
Henry: The word on the street is that it is a deep draft all around. Running back and wide receiver will be incredibly deep, but considering people are talking about five or six receivers going before the Patriots pick and zero running backs getting selected in the first round, teams will feel the depth more at running back because so few will get selected.
Duncan: Definitely wide receiver. You have Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, A&M’s Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin at FSU among a very skilled and NFL-ready core of receivers.
Cyrus: I have to go with receiver. There is a lot of talent all levels, which is rare for a position like that.
Matt: It has to be the wide receiver position. There are so many top options available in the first round, guys like Watkins, Evans, Lee, Cooks, Beckham Jr, and then you have to look into the second round and see the top level talent their is in guys like Benjamin, Latimer and Landry. Even going into the middle to later rounds you can find potential stars like Coleman, Ellington or Norwood. It’s a laundry list of potentially really good players and contributors.
3. If someone like Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater were to drop to the Patriots, would you take them? Why?
Henry: No, the Patriots did their due diligence by inviting their prospects, but all they meant to do was send off smoke screens so that the two quarterbacks are off the board before the Patriots pick. The more quarterbacks picked, the more likely the Patriots get a guy like Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt or Louis Nix.
Duncan: Bridgewater should have a greater chance of falling to the Patriots, but really, it’s a tough call if either of them were to fall to the Patriots because it’s no guarantee that they could replace Brady, or, if one of them ends up becoming ready to take the reigns, the Pats may trade him. I think New England should snatch their next opportunity in free agency to acquire a fairly young, proven quarterback, unless they could realistically get another Andrew Luck in the draft.
Cyrus: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.
Author’s Note: I think my good friend Daniel Bryan sums up Cyrus’ feelings nicely. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrAV_Eu-MK4
Matt: I have to feel like if Johnny Manziel were to somehow be available, the Patriots and Bill Belichick would be hard pressed not to take him. Belichick is known for taking the best player available, and Manziel would probably be that guy if he dropped to #29. I don’t think they should, but it would probably be a tense situation in the Patriots’ War Room.
4. Defensive End or Defensive Tackle. Which is a bigger early need for the Patriots?
Henry: Tough call here. I think they are two different needs. For defensive end, the Patriots seem to have depth, but they lack a high level talent that can impose as big a threat as Chandler Jones. Rob Ninkovich is a clutch sacker, but not a particularly prolific one. The defensive tackle position is the opposite. There’s great talent but not enough depth. Tommy Kelly and Vince Wilfork — when healthy — are elite players. But it would be nice to have some depth behind the old farts. So, I’ll go defensive tackle.
Duncan: I want to say defensive end for the Patriots due to the fact that the pass rush always needs to get better, but with an excellent secondary, I think the need for a pass rusher becomes less of an issue. With Wilfork coming off of an injury and aging, the Pats may be hoping to draft a player that becomes their next franchise D-tackle.
Cyrus: Defensive tackle. Yes, Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly should be back, but we can’t trust their healthy. The Pats finished 2013 with the 30th ranked run defense in the league, and if Wilfork and Kelly go down again, and New England doesn’t add to the middle of the defensive line, I think they will be looking at another bad year for the run defense.
Matt: I feel like defensive tackle is more important, especially getting someone who can provide interior pass rushing pressure. However, I do feel that it will be more likely that defensive end would be the pick, considering that it’s a deeper position, with more intriguing options. There’s a number of nice interior pass rushers later in the draft like Kelcy Quarles and in the later rounds, Shamar Stephen.
5. Earl Thomas recently just got a big time extension. How do you think this will effect McCourty’s upcoming extension?
Henry: The Earl Thomas contract serves as a ceiling. The Patriots may try to pay him a similar number in a nominal sense, but they might backload the contract even more than Thomas’ so that they are paying him less in the first few years.
Duncan: It really shouldn’t effect McCourty’s situation given the fact that Earl Thomas is a much better safety than the man out of Rutgers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pats tried to low-ball him on the deal. In the end, McCourty’s fairly replaceable from a skill standpoint.
Cyrus: McCourty was going to get paid regardless, but Thomas definitely helped him gain a few extra dollars. In my opinion, Thomas and McCourty are neck and neck for the title as the best safety in the league, so I see McCourty getting a big salary bump in the future.
Matt: The first thing that should be noted is that, as good as McCourty is, Thomas is on a whole other level. Hopefully the Patriots will realize this, and try and get a more reasonable contract out of him. I would be thinking somewhere in the range of four years, and 30-32 million total, is a fair contract. It’s important both sides figure something out, before someone can overpay McCourty next year in free agency like the Broncos did with Aqib Talib.
Thank you to Henry, Duncan and Cyrus for helping out on this week’s New England Patriots Roundtable. If you’d like to have a question answered by us on this roundtable, then feel free to send a tweet to @Musket_Fire or @MattyWinPats, or any of the guys personal twitters. With this, I leave a question: What is the position you think the Patriots should address in the draft first?