What are your thoughts around the Patriots investing their 4th-round pick in Armanti Edwards? I know you predict him to go late in the third round, so probably unlikely unless they draft him in the 2nd or drop down into the 3rd. Seems like he might be a good fit for them, though.
— Russ Clark
It was widely thought in league circles that the Patriots were very interested in Pat White a year ago. Yet, much to their delight, I believe, he wound up landing in the division, where he was relegated to the bench, saw very little action and wound up getting injured when he had an opportunity to play. I do not see him ever bringing value as a receiver or return man, as I think Edwards will. Edwards has embraced the opportunity to contribute in other phases of the game and showed promise in receiving drills at his pro day, unlike White, who evaluators said had one of the worst receiver positional workouts they had ever seen.
From a versatility perspective, the Patriots should be very intrigued by Edwards. They have an excellent coaching staff that develops talent as well as any team in the league and showed last year that it could quickly groom converted QB Julian Edelman into a slot receiver. I would not rule out the possibility that Edwards develops into an Antwaan Randle El type of weapon. Edwards' lack of size and injury history remain concerns that could affect his draft status and potentially allow him to slip to the Patriots in the fourth round, but it's difficult to believe he would escape the third, where the Patriots currently do not have a pick, and it's even remotely possible that he fits into the second round.
If they were truly interested in landing him, they would likely have to use their final second-round pick (53rd overall) or wisely manipulate their position, as they have done so well under Bill Belichick, by trading back into the third round and acquiring additional picks.
Why are Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen rated so highly on the board? Any other year those two are pretty average prospects at the position. Just because they are the best available and a couple needy teams might take them very high should not inflate their value. The teams that take them high should be scrutinized for reaching.
— Alex Van Wey
Bradford has outstanding accuracy. He is extremely competitive, well-respected as a leader, very smart and showed his toughness trying to continue playing last season when most players with his injury status would have shut it down. He has a lot of qualities that Phillip Rivers shared coming out of college, and many, including me, were critical of Rivers because of his unorthodox throwing motion and push delivery. Bradford may lack Rivers' experience, but he possesses all the tools to become a franchise quarterback, and if he enters a situation like Rivers did, with time to be groomed behind Drew Brees under the guidance of a terrific developer or quarterback talent, he could easily become a top-five-caliber NFL passer.
If you threw on tape of Clausen when he was a freshman or sophomore, I would tend to agree with you, but I did think he made significant strides this past season and is as ready to play coming out of college, assuming a healthy return from toe surgery, as Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez were in recent years. He was well-developed in Charlie Weis' pro-style offense, wanted the ball when the game was on the line and really emerged as a competitor and on-field leader, suggesting plays to be called during crunch time and demonstrating a strong command of the game.
Comparing him to quarterbacks in the past five years of the draft, Bradford graded out as highly as Matt Ryan to me, more highly overall than Matthew Stafford and JaMarcus Russell (even if not in the arm strength category) and better than Jay Cutler, Matt Leinart, Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers. Concerns about Bradord's health still exist, given his injury history, but he did put on considerable weight and moved around well at his pro day at 228 pounds. I know he has alleviated the concerns that teams at the top of the draft had about his injury history. So, I disagree with you completely about Bradford, with how much he has developed physically and how much upside he possesses.
Clausen very likely will be a beneficiary of a weak QB crop this year, but there is, and always will be, a premium on the QB position. Those prepared to play right away generally do not escape the first round and often are considerably overdrafted, as many have been in recent years.
Will Jermaine Gresham's injury affect his draft status?
— John W.
I don't envision Gresham's injury affecting his draft status much at this point — I think he is regarded as a mid-first-round pick by most teams. If he had been healthy last season and had played, he might be getting discussed as a potential top-10 pick similar to Kellen Winslow Jr. in 2004. He is extremely competitive, has natural instincts for the game and should prove to be an outstanding pro. But I think he has answered all questions about his health after performing well at the Combine and pro-day workouts, when he showed he was fully healthy.
USC S Taylor Mays is a physical specimen, but his instincts have been questioned. How confident are you he'll eventually put it all together?
Not confident at all. There are many world-class sprinters who would not bring any value to an NFL team if they strapped on a helmet. To me, Mays' track speed does not correlate to the field, as he struggles heavily to transition in man coverage, does not break down easily in space and had very marginal production on the ball for a four-year starter. Beyond his football-playing evaluation, I am not sure he is focused enough to handle a big payday. At this point, there is a chance he could easily slip out of the first round, as many evaluators graded him as a third- or fourth-round talent during the season, and his tape does not match his physical prowess. Personally, if I needed a free safety and were making the decision, I would have a difficult time pulling the trigger in the third round, let alone the first.
While all the talk is that the Browns have targeted Eric Berry with their pick at No. 7, given the draft history of Tom Heckert with the Eagles and his propensity to take linemen in the first round, do you see the Browns possibly picking an offensive tackle with the seventh overall pick to shore up the right side of their offensive line that was a major sore spot last year?
— Dario Vodopia, Richmond Hill, Ontario
Heckert's time in Philadelphia afforded him the opportunity to learn how to build a roster with a long-range perspective, as Andy Reid and Joe Banner have done so well to maintain the Eagles' success. Under Eric Mangini, the Browns clearly valued drafting "safe" and stockpiling picks. If Mangini is still to have input, I would expect the same philosophy to be employed. The Eagles placed a premium on building inside out, and I think it's safe to say the Browns would like to get better on the right side of their line and add more depth to their defensive line, but they did sign Tony Pashos to play right tackle and acquired TE Ben Watson to provide chip help.
Levi Brown was drafted fifth overall by the Cardinals in 2007 to play right tackle, but the Cardinals had a left-handed quarterback (Matt Leinart) at the time, and with Leinart set to become the starter, Brown is expected to move to the left side this year to replace Mike Gandy. Seldom are right tackles selected in the top 10, and the Browns do not have any concerns on the left side with Joe Thomas in place for the long term. So, I would be surprised if they selected an offensive lineman at No. 7. They have a bigger need for a quarterback of the future, offensive playmakers and pass rushers, and it's very difficult to argue that safety is not a huge need, with Abram Elam and Mike Adams currently penciled in as starters after Brodney Pool was allowed to depart.
My questions are regarding the Rams' possible intentions per your latest mock (April 12).
1. Assuming the Rams take Bradford and the draft goes down according to your mock draft scenario, who would you anticipate the Rams taking with the first pick in Round 2, #33 overall? Per your mock, they would have the choice of Taylor Mays, Carlos Dunlap, Everson Griffen, Golden Tate, Jonathan Dwyer, Bruce Campbell, Corey Wootton, Charles Brown, Jahvid Best, Brian Price, Terrance Cody, Rob Gronkowski, Damian Williams, etc., etc.
2. If the Rams throw the entire league a curve by taking Suh at #1 overall and, assuming that this does not change the composition of the top 32 players selected in your mock draft scenario, who would the Rams take with the first pick in Round 2, No. 33 overall? Are the Rams almost obligated to take a QB at the top of Round 2 (Colt McCoy?) or the top of Round 3 (Pike? LeFevour?) in this scenario?
3. Is there any possible scenario in your mind in which the Rams can wait until the 2011 draft to pick their QB of the future (Jake Locker, Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallett)?
— Tom in SF
1. The Rams have so many needs, Tom, that I think they will be hard-pressed not to field the best offer they could at the No. 33 spot, which should reap a big return. Many players that you mentioned belong on the all-hype team and could struggle to ever live up to expectations. I would expect the Rams would like to come away from the first two rounds having added a passer and a pass rusher, but given the state of their roster, I think they have to place the greatest premium on the best available player.
2. If they land a defensive lineman in the first round, I think they would be much more likely to keep the 33rd pick and nab a passer such as Colt McCoy or even Tim Tebow if he is available. I don't see Dan LeFevour being drafted until later, on Saturday, and Pike is not durable or NFL-ready enough to consider early in the third round, at least in my opinion.
3. I have had discussions with teams about the 2011 QB class already, as they have tried to plan long term, but the inherent flaw in the logic of waiting another year to draft a top-flight quarterback is that it accepts a losing mentality, and no one should want to hold the No. 1 pick next year that will likely be needed to land a star such as Locker. The Rams have owned a top-two pick each of the last three years now. If they own a top-10 pick next season with new ownership arriving, Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney may not have the luxury of making next year's pick, right or wrong, in what has become a very fickle, win-now league. One way or another, whether it be via a trade for Jason Campbell or Michael Vick, or selecting a young quarterback, the Rams need to find a passer they can win with.
Nolan Nawrocki will again answer selected questions from readers next Tuesday. Send your draft-related questions to Nawrocki at ASKquestions@pfwmedia.com.
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