....Part I.... because we all know there will be more before April Well this thread isn't news. It's March. It's post combine. WTF else do we have to talk about until after the draft. So here we go. Lets all put on our aluminum foil hats and try and speculate on the âunspeculatableâ (its not often I get to create a word) So lets talk about FA and the draft and guess âwho's coming for dinnerâ this year. This should be easy, given how well we always do. But like Sisyphus rolling that stone up that mountain, it isn't going to stop us from trying. So here is my first shot at putting on the GM hat and selecting the next crop of FA's and Draft picks. a. The Pats are in position to sign all of their own FA's that they want to keep, and still have enough money to sign at least one big name FA of their choosing. Its a very rare and enviable situation to be in, especially for a team coming off a superbowl appearance. b. I think the key to analyzing the off season is NOT to think of the draft and FA separately The second is patience. The 3 best FA signings the Pats made last season came very late in the process, and all were considered afterthoughts (Waters, Carter, Anderson) The lesson here is that we shouldn't really be making judgments about this roster until the final 53 and PS is official. Not that this will stop anyone, including myself. c. So forgetting where the players come from, what are the positions we would MOST like to improve going into the next season. But before I do I have to make a few unproven assumptions. They are Welker, Waters, Light and either one of Connolly or Koppen are back. So given that, here are my priorities by position that need to improve 1. Safety. 2. DL( Interior pass rush threat). 3. DE/OLB prospect. 4. WR. 5 CB 6. OL dept d. So putting on my GM cap, knowing BB is at home desperately waiting for this post, AND stealing a lot of info from the draft gurus, here's what I'd do. 1. I'd get Light and Waters back on board. I'd resign Welker, Carter, Anderson Connolly, and McDonald and bid a fond goodbye to Kevin Faulk and Dan Koppen 2. I go after the best coverage S in FA. That looks like Mike Griffith right now. I'm not just looking to improve the talent back there, I'm looking to add more experience leadership, and maturity to what is a VERY young secondary. It is an absolute need that we have a coverage safety capable of consistently getting to the sideline on deep routes. Then if there is any money left I'd also so look for the next Rob Ninkovitch in FA, Maybe its Manny Lawson. Maybe its some guy we've never heard of...... very much like Rob Ninkovitch. 3. I offer vet minimum, non-guaranteed, incentive laden contracts to BOTH Ocho and Branch, and let them know that only one of them will make the roster. May the best man win. 4. I'm still looking for my âdeep threatâ, so I offer the same vet minimum, non-guaranteed, incentive laden contracts to Lee Evans, Braylon Edwards, and Randy Moss. First one to accept gets the chance to compete for that role as the #4 option. Edwards is my first choice. 5. In the draft, all things being equal on my board, I'm looking for an interior Dlman who can create pressure on the QB from the inside. Next I'm looking for a college DE to develop as an OLB and future replacement for Andre Carter. After that it gets cloudy and a lot would depend on who is on the board. I got my S in FA plus with Barrett coming back and McCourty's position flexibility, I think I have the S position taken care of to the point its not worth taking a S with a premium pick, especially in a very weak S class. Also the 2 looking prospects, Barron and Smith, both sound more like SS types and that's not what I need. So in the middle of the 2nd round I am willing to take the best CB or WR available. At the bottom of that round I'd do the reverse. After that its BPA regardless of position unless I'm wow'ed by someone that has a rating I just can't pass up. 6. Fantasy draft - part I â first 5 picks â 1a Fletcher Cox, interior pass rusher DT in 4-3, DE 3-5. 1b. Andre Branch, OLB/DE prospect, the Andre Carter replacement. 2a. Steven Gilmore, CB a 4..4 fast, 6ft. CB who excels in press coverage. 2b. Marvin McNutt WR, a big WR with 4.5 speed a nice prospect to develop. 3. Trumaine Johnson â a 6'3 CB who has FS skills. You can't have too man Dbs 7. Fantasy Draft II with a twist. 1a. Fletcher Cox. 2b. Colby Fleener TE â can play inside and out, as fast as guys like Sanu, more like Hernandez than Gronk. We need a 3rd TE anyway, in 2 years we are likely to lose one of our TE's - We keep him away from others, and corner the TE market. Just the out of the box move BB would make. 2a. Chandler Jones DE/OLB) from Syracuse potential Carter replacement. 2b..Trumaine Johnson- big CB who has FS potential. .3. Ryan Broyles â red shirt WR or pick your any binky speed WR you want. 8. While I would endorse a trade down out of the first round up to 10 picks to grab an extra 3rd or 4th, I don't want to trade into the next year. This team is starting to mature and future picks are not as necessary as they were when we were ârebuildingâ. 9. And any speculation of the Pats off season cannot be complete if you don't include a âWes Welker walksâ scenario. But I covered what I'd do if Welker walks in another thread, but the point here is that If he walks it wouldn't change what I'd try to do in the draft. So in that very unlikely scenario, the draft strategy wouldn't change. Welker's immediate replacement would come from FA and a developmental player from the draft 5. I think the BOTTOM LINE here, is that the Pats have FA and draft resources that regardless of who's prediction of what will happen occurs, we can all rest assured that âholesâ will be filled, and the talent upgraded, and next year's team will go into the season as one of the top 3 choices to be the AFC champs, along with the Ravens and Houston.....and at the very least certainly a team very likely to be in the playoff mix by next January. And THAT my friends is a very nice feeling Well this wasn't easy. I need to get paid for this sh!t Ian....anyone?