1) Morpheus11: Adam, there has been a lot of talk about the Patriots needing to add a pass rush. De and OLB and the OLB/DE hybrid have fueled a lot of speculation. Which three DE's that is projected to be available in the first or second round when the Patriots draft would best fit their scheme and need?
Adam Caplan: Players such as Ricky Sapp (Clemson), Jerry Hughes (TCU), Eric Norwood (South Carolina) are three players that would probably fit in well. Norwood is more of a true linebacker, however. The other two are hybrids.
I’d expect New England to get at least two rush outside linebackers out of this draft based on their major need in that area.
2) dokgonzo: Are the Patriots at least considering using a high draft pick for a power running back?
Caplan: I’d say they have more need of speed at the position than power or at least a combination of both. I’d expect them to select at least one back in this year’s draft. I think it’s a pretty deep draft for running backs through round 4.
3) Given that the Pats usually trade down for quantity over quality picks, and given the importance of this years draft to the team, what are the odds that the Pats will trade up in this year's draft?
Caplan: They have the ammunition to do so because they have three second-rounders. But they also could let the draft come to them since it’s projected to be so deep in talent in the first three rounds.
4) 3rdngoal: We hear all the talk about "Conversion type" DE/OLB's but are there any OLB's that have played in a 3-4 that should be on the Patriots radar?
Caplan: There are a bunch that will have to transition to the next level at OLB who haven’t played much at that position. But many of them have the athletic ability to do so.
5) chrism: What are your thoughts on WR Golden Tate? I've seen him mocked to the Pats in the second round a number of times but I also see a lot of comments indicating some (most?) scouts think he'll be a better slot guy than an outside receiver. Is this the case in your opinion?
Caplan: He has good hands and runs well. Tate fits in as a second receiver at the next level and it helps that he played in a pro style offense in college. Tate runs deeper routes better than most think. He’s expected to go off the board early in the second round.
6) Hunter07: With all the picks they have, - any chance they'll trade-up if they see a good opportunity to fill a spot???
Caplan: If they do trade up, my guess is it would be for a pass rusher (OLB). It doesn’t appear that there will be a receiver that makes sense to move up for.
7) dokgonzo: How many of the evaluations that the Patriots held were likely smoke-screens? For instance, Tebow? Or do we read a lot more into who the Pats bring in to talk to than is really there?
Caplan: I think there’s actually some interest in Tebow on New England’s end. Head coach Bill Belichick thinks out of the box, he sees what others don’t see. Tebow would be more than a quarterback if they drafted him.
8) Do you think that the Patriots will trade some of their players during the draft and acquire draft picks?
Caplan: It might be harder for the team to trade OLB Adalius Thomas because of his high base salary ($4.9 million this season). Matt Light is on the final year of his contract, but might have some late-round value. They are very high on Sebastian Vollmer, but whether he’s ready to start remains to be seen. It’s possible that one of their younger cornerbacks get dealt since they have three and probably only two of them have a clear-cut future with the team.
Caplan: I don’t see any receiver worth taking at #22 unless Dez Bryant slips to them. And even if he does, he has character red flags do deal with. They are better off looking at receivers later in the draft.
10) GinoC: Do you see that Pats drafting a WR? Which WR is best suited to them and likely to be available?
Caplan: I’d think probably two when you look at their lack of depth at the position. With Welker’s injury and Moss’s age, they have to add a few developmental receivers. Damian Williams (USC), Demaryius Thomas (Georgia Tech), Taylor Price (Ohio U.), Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati), Jacoby Ford (Clemson) are some receivers that they could look at who would fit in with their scheme.
Look for Part 2 coming soon.
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