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Analyzing Team Needs

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by AndyJohnson, Feb 11, 2006.

  1. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Ignoring what is available in the draft, or Free Agency, and just looking at needs for the Pats here are my opinions.

    QB. We have the best. We need another backup. Is Cassell a 3 or 2? For my money, we need to bring in a guy who can play decent and allow the other 21 guys to win if he must play. I'd like to see a solid backup brought in. Cassell can have every chance to beat him out if he can.

    RB. I'm OK with Dillon for 06, a bit concerend for 07, and wouldnt count on him beyond that.
    Faulk plays a part, but cant be relied on for a full time role, pus age and injuries are making closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Pass short term is a good #3 option. I see 2 choices here. First, bring in the 'RB of the future" now. That doesnt have to be a round 1 pick (would need to be day 1) and let him fit anywhere within those top 3 he is capable of today, and get ready to start by sometime in 07 or 08. Or stay the course, and find the replacement in FA, in 07 if Dillon isnt back to normal in 06 or later if he is the old Dillon.

    FB. I am increasingly interested in a REAL FB. I dont think the one we need has to be expensive, possibly even a late round rookie. The only role he needs to play is a sledge hammer blocker. He will probably only be on the field 30% of the plays or so, because we want to use 2 TEs, but for those 30% of the plays a strong lead blocker would make a big difference. It seems BB values athleticism and pass catching out of FBs more than blocking, but with Pass, and Watson as really an Hback, we get that. A roster spot for a "Darryl Johnston type" seems warranted to me.

    WR. My opinion of what a WR corps needs to be:
    1) A go to guy
    2) A 'complete' if not excellent #2. Can do everything but maybe nothing spectacular.
    3) A guy with something special. Either a deep threat or a great route runner who is good on 3rd down
    4) A guy who isnt yet but can be 1 or 2
    5) Mr. Reliable. Nothing special but reliable.

    I assume we lock up either Branch or Givens long term, but not both. In house Davis or Bethel could be (3) long term and possibly (4). Many are down on both, but I see potential in both. Troy Brown is the 2nd half of 3, but for 1 yr at best. Maybe its just wishful thinking but I believe if Bethel Johnson can have a healthy off-season, camp and season, he can break out in 06. I would at least like to see him one more year to find out. If we keep both, we cant miss on the other guy in the top 4. We need a major move at this position in one way or another. A Dwight or similar is fine as 5 for me.
    Bottom line, Resign Givens or replace him retain 2 of Johnson, Davis and Brown, bring back Dwight or a similar guy. I would not object to a high draft pick plus Branch, Johnson, Davis, Dwight/replacement. We can fit that rookie anywhere among the other 4 behind Branch, and be OK, and potentially end up with Branch and a stud for years.

    TE. We use 2 so often that we need a #3. Graham and Watson are a s good a duo as you can find. I'd like to see a 'project' on day 2, who could fill in for either with a decent upside. I'd look more at receiving skills than blocking, because we have always been comfortable using an OL as the blocking 3rd TE.

    OL. Light is a SB caliber LT IMO. Hell, we have won it 3 of the 4 years he played. Mankins is going to be very good for a long time, and IMO could play RG, LG, or RT and is an option to slide to LT if needed. Kaczur has a future, I'd forget all else we have today and make a decision on the best postions long term for these guys, potentially that being the right side of the OL for the next 10 years. I'm OK with Koppen but dont see him here long term, first because he may choose to leave as a FA, but second because I see him as a pretty good player, but not exceptional, and those guys don't stay Pats in their FA year. There are building blocks here for an outstanding OL. I would use a #1, or at least #2 or a big FA signing to round out this group. A 'pro-bowl quality' OL added to what we have would give us one of the best OLs in the NFL. Neal isnt the guy IMO. For depth we have the 'graduates of the developmetal program'. Gorin is a fine backup, because he can be an effective starter. With Mankins and Kaczur also able to step in at LT, the 4th T should be a devolopmental guy. Britt seems a good choice. Hochstein is a fine backup inside. I think we just need to choose among Yates and the other youngsters (Mruc for example) or a day 2 pick as the last OL.
    Bottom line, find a stud to start at LG, RG, or RT and we have one of the best, and just as importantly one of the deepest OLs in the NFL.

    DE- Seymour is a beast, Warren is probably one of the other top 5-7 guys in the NFL we could have playing DE in OUR system. Jarvis Green is one of the best backup DEs out there. Hill concerns me, but with these 3, why wouldnt we count on him as 4? Also, Wilfork CAN play DE in the 3-4 and do it very well. A depth issue would be having him available to move outside if needed, but getting a good backup for him.

    DT- Wilfork is becoming a stud, but there is no one behind him. Wright is a jag, his ability to also play DE says he probably gets a roster spot. But we need to get a backup. A strong backup NT solves 2 depth problems, NT, and DE since Wilfork could move out there.

    OLB- Colvin had a GREAT year. His run D was tremendous, and overlooked. McGinest gets another year, but IMO should be splitting time in a 3man rotation so the next in line is ready for 07. That could mean Vrabel back outside, or a new player brought in who may get 30% of Willies snaps and 10-20 of Colvins, preparing to start in 07. Whether Vrabel is outside or inside determines IMO whether we need an immediate impact guy, or someone who can start getting some real reps in 07. This D will always be fine with jags backing up behind the top 3 OLBs.

    ILB- Bruschi appears, IMO, to have at least 2-3 good years left and his replacement can be back-burnered right now. The Vrable decision to me indicate whether we need an immediate impact guy at ILB or at OLB, but we need one. Beisel works for me as a backup. Jags and s/ters work behind the top 3 at ILB just as OLB IMO.

    CB- I like Samuel and think he is a long term fixture. Hobbs may or may not be, but for 2007, I wouldnt want to count on him starting. Gay is the same category, IMO. I am of the belief we didnt see the real Starks this year, and also of the belief he killed our season, faultless or not. My vision of the 4th in this group is exactly what I thought Starks would be.......a capable starter who will be pushed by Hobbs and Gay, possibly being beaten out now, possibly repalced in a year or 2. But at the cap cost it would take, I dont think Starks is the guy. I'd like to see a starting caliber FA corner brought in. Not a super-stud, but a guy we are good with as a starter, but also a guy Hobbs or Gay could beat out if they earn it. I think we keep Chad Scott for depth, and if Hawkins stays he can also play corner if the injuries mount ONCE AGAIN.l

    S- I think Wilson is also a fixture. Hawkins works for me as a 3rd/4th safety. Harrison, IMO, will be back, but his career doesnt have many years left in it. It seems the right time to bring in a stud in the making safety, in the 2nd or 3rd round, or so. (This would also be a place BB could find an RFA or young UFA becuase he is a good judge of safety potential, IMO). Milloy and Wilson were 2nd round picks who werent counted on to play right away. Both did sooner rather than later. A similar pick is hedged by having Hawkins still here, and gives us the potnetial Harrison replacement, as well as the ability to shift Wilson to corner if injuries kill us ONCE AGAIN.

    ST- I love AV, but think when I look over this list, that his cap number is too much. I will be fine if he returns and fine if he doesnt. Miller is fine, as is Paxton.


    As I said, I did this with no thought to available players in the draft or FA, and looked at each position independently. After that exercise, I would use draft and FA as follows:

    Draft
    1) Stud OL
    2) Safety
    3) RB LB
    4) WR DT
    5) FB
    6) K
    7) OL (you can never have enough young guys on the OL)


    In FA we should be focussed on a backup QB (less raw talent but more experiecne than Cassell) nd a corner who could be beaten out by Hobbs or Gay but be an effective starter if not, and Givens or his replacement.

    The changes to the key players from 05 to 06 would be:

    A stud OL in place of Neal
    Givens back or replaced probably with a small downgrade
    A 5th LB, ILB or OLB (depending on Vrabels position)
    A better version of Starks
    A young future excellent safety to be in the mix

    And of course, LESS INJURIES

    When I look at this, I see a team that is ready to compete for SB XLI and a team that has a solid future at virtually every position.

    Its really amazing how young we have become at key spots from 2002 to today.

    Thoughts?
  2. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Rookie

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    i haven't given this as much thought as you but my gut feeling tells me that the Pats could benefit from speed/skill players at WR and CB.

    Clearly WR was a concern going into this season - and although many had high hopes it was clear the coaches didn't feel the same way. Now we're potentially losing our #2 WR. So we have a clear #1 and 4 "ifs".

    If Tom Brady is the modern (non-greedy) Joe Montana I feel that he can take it to a new dimension if we give him his Jerry Rice. Those guys don't grown on trees, and are VERY expensive as UFAs if you can find them.

    Recognizing that many 1st round WRs can fail to live up to expectations, I'd be willing to take a chance on moving up to grab a tall, fast, skilled WR

    Same with CB. As well as our guys played in a season where the secondary was decimated by injuries, I think we need a taller, faster CB to balance out the tweeners who round out the secondary for us.

    Again, complaints during the season that our CBs were shorter than WRs aside (CBs are nearly ALWAYS shorter than WRs) a 5-11 or 6 foot CB is better able to defend the 6'3" + WRs we often face.

    Buying a premier CB as a Free agent is expensive and short term solution. I'd be willing to let the Pats take a risk and move up if a guy is available to them in the draft.
  3. patsfaninpa

    patsfaninpa Rookie

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    I agree with Joe about cb's. Throw in pass rushers too. Way,
    too expensive on fa market. Have to draft em. I'd like someone
    to rotate with Willie and challenge Hobbs/Samuels. Be a nickel
    back. I want olb early. M.Lawson and cb in Round 2. Trade up
    for this Marshall kid from Fresno St. We have the picks to do it.

    I'd like to spend the free agent money we have on keeping
    our offense. Continuity and good health should make our
    offense explosive in 06. I'd try like hell to keep Givens(Cut Starks
    and Poole), S.Neal and Adam V. Build depth on offense with
    mid round picks; WR,RB,TE AND OL.
  4. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I really liked what I saw from James Sanders in the 2nd half of this year (after the injury). I think Belichick wants to actually see how Guss Scott can play, so we'll see him back next year on an ERFA tender. Wilson, Sanders, and G. Scott are the 3 main young guys at safety, the latter two being special teamers. Do I see Sanders starting in a year or two? It depends on how he progresses.

    But I definitely think Rodney will be ready to play in September, at least near his 2004 level. That gives us the traditional 4 safeties on the roster. But because of the injury history in the defensive backfield, re-signing Hawkins and/or Stone gives us a semi-proven versatile starter and veteran in Hawkins, and a proven special teams veteran stud in Stone who can also fill-in as a starter if need be (Rodney still hurt, etc.).

    At corner, I think Belichick gives Samuel, Hobbs, Gay, Starks (if retained), Poole (if retained), and Chad Scott (if retained) a shot at the starting spots in camp. But if Starks, Poole, and Scott can't crack the top 3 spots, then they're simply too much of a cap burden and might be released. They can always be brought back cheaper, or a cheaper replacement can be found if there is another injury-marred year. Poteat should also get a shot at the nickel job.

    Looking at it...

    S - Harrison (?)
    S - Wilson
    S - Sanders
    S - Ventrone
    --------------
    S - G. Scott (ERFA)
    S - Stone (UFA)
    S/CB - Hawkins (UFA)

    CB - Samuel
    CB - Hobbs
    CB - Starks
    CB - Poole
    CB - Spann
    --------------
    CB - Gay (ERFA)
    CB - C. Scott (UFA)
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2006
  5. dhamz

    dhamz Rookie

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    I agree with most of it but don't agree at all with this. Branch would be the only proven guy on that list and he has only played all 16 once in his career. He also struggled mightly in 2 of the 3 games Givens missed this year.

    We need a #2 across from him. Not having good WRs when you have the best QB in the league doesn't make sense to me.

    I know you love Bethel but he has proven nothing as an NFL WR. 30 catches in 3 years. To count on him to step up is a real reach right now.

    Rookie WRs are hit or miss and this really isn't a good WR class.

    That would leave Davis as the #2 and while he has proven more than Bethel he isn't a #2 either.

    I think if we don't retain Givens, we need to replace him through FA.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2006
  6. JR4

    JR4 In the Starting Line-up PatsFans.com Supporter

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    AJ, I like your analysis .... the best part is the Oline ... I hope you're right
    about the draft order.
  7. shakadave

    shakadave Rookie

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    I agree with all that dhamz is saying here. Bethel = lost cause at WR. If it really takes 4 years to develop into an adequate WR, we should have been drafting more at WR last year and the two years before. I love Davis, but so far mostly he just goes out for bombs and catches one out of every six. Without Givens, we need a big free agent replacement. Might be worth it to just re-sign Givens.
  8. shirtsleeve

    shirtsleeve Rookie

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    Good analysis overall, but I disagree on the O line part. There isn't a lot of value in getting a guard at the top of the draft. This draft seems deep at tackle, very thin at guard. Not the year to overextend and pay too much for someone who in other years wouldnt draw a first round selection. This is a place where it may be more practical to keep the FA's in place and draft a project tackle to convert later on. The FA's out there will be very expensive. This is a great place to use one of our #3's.

    Mine looks something like this:

    1).Safety

    2).CB

    3).RB,OL project

    4).WR, ILB project

    5).OLB

    6).DE

    7).CB

    You see, 35-27 doesn't cut it for me. 3-0 is a great final score to me, as long as the other team goes home via medical transport! :D
  9. State

    State Rookie

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    #70 Jersey

    Did anyone say LB?

    The OL stuff is typical Patriots smokescreen. Remember what they did to the Jets a few years ago, causing them to sacrifice their draft for NT Robertson? People get panicking come draft time. The Patriots don't.

    Here's your first-rounder, ladies and gentlemen:
    http://www.nfldraftcountdown.com/scoutingreports/olb/demecoryans.html

    We need youth at this position more than any other. We've been spoiled by the league's best over the last four years. Now we're a little long in the tooth at this position.

    Second round: WR.
    Third round: Safety or running back.

    Andy, stop with the IMO crap. We know it's your freakin' opinion. Rule 17 from Strunk & White: Omit Needless Words.

    Patriots will win next year's Super Bowl against the Detoit Lions.
  10. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Rookie

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    He's got a point Andy.

    "IMO" Sure its three simple capital letters.

    But with 2700 posts that's 8100 typed characters... just think of all the time you've needlessly squandered in your life!
  11. Feep_FLA

    Feep_FLA Rookie

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    This is rock solid. Nice piece. well thought out and articulated. Kudos
  12. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    re:

    Nice post AJ. I like the O-Line reasoning. The Pats seem to like filling their O-Line through the draft and let players go when the contract runs out in order to save money (to be spent on other positions). Givens seems like a priority at this point. There is no clear #2 on the roster or in free agency who could fill that role. If these two things get done, I think the offense is pretty well stocked.

    For defense, I see the Pats drafting a safety to take over after Rodney is done, but bringing in one quality free agent cornerback. Also, the Pats were surprised when Ted Johnson left last year, so they will probably re-stock their ILB spot somehow, allowing Vrabel to go into a 3-man rotation with Willie and Colvin at OLB.

    Seriously though, the Pats could do anything this off-season. Nothing they do will really surprise me that much.

    .
  13. kurtinelson

    kurtinelson Rookie

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    #37 Jersey

    Good critique on positional needs, but I disagree about offensive line. I think there is room for improvement on the O-Line, but I don't think we should be spending a round 1 or 2 pick in the draft at this position. A offensive line is greater than the sum of its parts. Bringing in a 1st round draft pick does not gaurantee that our line will be significantly improved, especially in the short term. Given the depth of this year's draft class, round 3 is maybe the time to draft a replacement for Neal, either the best OG or OT available, perhaps Trueblood. I think there will be good value in round 3 and later.

    In the first two rounds, I'd love to see the Pats pick up two of these three players, perhaps by trading down from No. 21 to later in the first round and possibly moving up from 52 in Round 2:

    CB Richard Marshall
    DE Manny Lawson
    WR Martin Nance
  14. NOWAKJOE

    NOWAKJOE Rookie

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  15. Patsfanin Philly

    Patsfanin Philly Rookie

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    #95 Jersey

    Let's see, his weaknesses are size and speed but he's like a coach on the field as plays with a huge heart. He's versatile, aggressive and a sure tackler. Sounds a lot like a certain Arizona State LB drafted in 1996 who the 'experts' said would probably only be a rusher in nickel and dime formations.........
    I hope you're right.
    Just my $0.02,
  16. Brady'sButtBoy

    Brady'sButtBoy Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    I remained baffled by the widespread confidence that Dillon will "fine" or even return to the form of 2004 for next season.

    Very rare is the RB that plays at Dillon's level for this long. Sure Dillion is an exceptional player but just look at the complete collapse of Q-Mart with the Jets this year for evidence of how quickly even a certain HOF RB can lose it. Yes, Martin has accumulated nearly 4,000 touches so he has seen much more work than Dillon in just one more season but Corey has had around 2650 touches in nine seasons and this year was the first he 'broke down,' as NFL types like to say (2003 was worse statistically but that wasn't due so much to injuries as it was his 'tude problemo in Cincy). Once the decline starts, how many RB's can you remember who reversed it?

    RB's lose a step and it's over, even when Dillon was 'healthy' this year he sure looked to be missing that step already. I'm not certain Dillion is finished (though my gut says just that) but it seems very risky to rely on for 2006 given his mileage, injury trend, apparent loss of some speed/quickness. The Pats must have a realistic backup plan and Faulk isn't it, as AJ states. So they need to either draft a prize or sign someone up to lug the rock, especially when you consider how big an impact a stud like the 2004 Dillon had on this team.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2006
  17. spacecrime

    spacecrime Rookie

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    How can three letters annoy you so much. Read Strunk and White again, Half of your post was unneeded words IMO.
  18. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I agree with draftin a stud OL and S as top priorities and then RB and LB, presumably all on Day 1. But first to free agency!
    ---------------------------------------
    QUARTERBACK
    Yes, we need a veteran QB. My preference is Huard, but Flutie may stay another year.

    RECEIVERS
    Givens or a replacement isn't near enough.
    I guess you are assuming that Davis, Dwight and Brown are just there to be signed. Even then, I think we need more receivers to compete for the five spots, and a top receiver if Branch isn't extended. My hope is for Moulds.

    And just BTW, when was Graham re-signed? If you go into 2006 with Graham, Watson and a 6th rounder, you risk highway robbery by Graham next year. ANd just BTW, why do we also seem to think that any old 2nd day pick can replace Fauria? What has bb's record been with non-first round TE's?

    CORNERS
    I agree with you. We need one, period. We aren't going into the season with Samuel, Hobbs, Gay, Poteat (and Hawkins as a CB/S).
  19. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Catching up with things:

    QB: Check.
    RB: Dillon check. Draft, not first day. If Faulk could retrain himself to carry the ball like Tiki he crank out a couple 1,000 yd season before hitting the wall. Pass check. I'd like to see Evans in camp, see if he can improve his blocking at all.
    FB: Nope.
    WR: Davis and Tommy need a lot of time together, but it looks hopeful. Bethel is cheap. Deion is fragile. This could be a trade area, give the fans a Dillon vs. Starks discussion topic for the off-season.
    TE: They are great multi-tools and grabbing Fauria's (or Graham's) replacement on day one makes good sense.
    OL: A day one LT who can play inside is cool. If Neal isn't retained I'd move Gorin in and keep Hochstein in reserve.
    DE/NT: This is a thin draft for them, I don't know why, but I like your thinking. :D
    LB: I see any number of DEs who could transition well into 3-4 LBs, this will work out okay.
    CB: The more competition the merrier.
    S: Not a need, but a small LB project wouldn't be amiss.
    ST: AV stays, Miller/Paxton check.

    Fun read AJ.
  20. shakadave

    shakadave Rookie

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    :rocker:

    Especially the line "once the decline starts, how many RB's" reversed it? Bettis is the only one I can think of, although I never thought he had that much talent to decline from in the first place.

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