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Let's talk about current depth

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Deus Irae, Jul 12, 2011.

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  1. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    We spend a lot of time discussing individual players, especially starters. I thought it would be interesting to change it up a bit. Let's talk just projected backups and empty positions, understanding that free agency and UDFAs will likely change the equation.

    1a) What positions are the weakest?
    1b.) Are any positions so weak that they could endanger the team's potential Super Bowl run?

    2a.) What positions are the strongest?
    2b.) Are any positions so strong that they could be looked at as even, or an upgrade, coming in for the starter(s)?
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  2. Frick

    Frick Rookie

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    weakest-olb-if they play ordinary we could still be fine.

    strongest- cornerback-McCourty,Bodden,Dowling and Arrington,never thought I would ever say that.

    If there was a backup better than a starter BB would fix that
  3. cstjohn17

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    #54 Jersey

  4. supafly

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    #24 Jersey

    I like the topic idea, Deus.

    I think that OLB would be a position of weakness, as we'd be looking at TBC/Moore/Murrell/? (competition) as backups.

    QB is another weakness as backups go, as we would see obvious and significant dropoff, although that isn't exactly the backups fault.

    ---------------------

    Safety would be an apparent position of strength with Sanders/(likely one of Page/McGowan)/and one of Brown/Barrett.

    I think that Sanders has shown that we can get by without too much drop off if/when forced into a starting role. So I think we could pretty much almost consider that the 'even' grade that you gave--depending on how Meriweather has been playing etc. Basically much like last yr's situation when Meriweather was benched. There's still some dropoff in speed, but Sanders sometimes can make up for it in other ways (smarts, positioning, etc).

    I think ILB could be a position of backup strength also, with Guyton and Fletcher being able to at least handle the load for a game or two.

    TE could be another one, depending on who you'd put as a TE3. If it's Crumpler, then that would be more than okay as a starter.

    I would even consider DL on the fence, as a backup or two could certainly get us by for a couple/few games.

    (Obviously assuming that we all agree that some of these are used as sub package players/role/specialty players)
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  5. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #11 Jersey

    Really good question...and surprisingly hard to look past the starters and focus on depth!

    For instance, just about everybody so far has listed OLB as a depth weakness. But are Banta-Cain & Moore really so bad as backups? If Cunningham & Ninkovich emerge as strong starters, a couple of reasonable vets behind them is respectable. Or is the problem that you'd expect to line up 3 so-called OLBs in a lot of sets -- in which case you could argue that starting 4-3 DE is the problem area?

    At DE, I think depth is very good. You have a ton to pick from in Warren, Stroud, Deaderick, Brace, Pryor and (health permitting) Wright. The trick will be establishing reliable starters out of the group.

    The defensive backfield should be stacked, but I like ILB as the strongest depth position on defense. I feel good about all 4 -- could you have imagined saying that a few years back? Fletcher was impressive when you consider he was transitioning from small-school DL, he could have huge potential.

    And that leaves NT as my biggest depth worry spot on defense.

    On offense, I'm surprised that QB has only been mentioned as a depth problem area. It sure looks like a strength to me, with the #1 backup (who they trusted enough to go with just 2) returning, and a hotshot rookie behind him. TE, when you throw in rookie Smith, is as good and deep as you'll ever see. In fact, I'll pick TE as my best depth position of offense.

    WR runs shallow, but the abundance of TEs keeps me from feeling too worried. Though if Taylor Price doesn't make the opening day 45, I'll start worrying more. RB looks OK barring early injuries, with plenty of young legs and versatile skillsets. OT, even without Light, has a reasonable top 4 including a pro-bowl caliber vet and a 1st-round rookie. But the interior OL...

    Can it be that nobody else in this thread has mentioned the interior line? To me, C & OG leap out as the top depth concerns on the team.
  6. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    I really think this Patriots team could wind up being stacked like the 04 Super Bowl team. They've drafted really well in the past few years and are reaping the benefits of that cheap labor. They can extend Mankins and still have money to sign a couple impact veteran free agents.

    However, like any NFL team, they are not without flaw.

    1a) OLB, WR
    1b) Brady makes up for deficiencies at WR, and Belichick can scheme over OLB weaknesses fairly decently. OL is actually the real thing that I can see derailing a SB chance. As of now, it looks OK on paper, but there's a lot of uncertainty between Mankins' contract; Solder's learning curve; Kaczur's high-price. If Wright or Warren DON'T come back healthy, then DL is an issue. If they are healthy, then I like what we have at DL. The trenches, in the end, will decide our fate.

    2a) QB, TE, CB
    2b) The secondary looks most solid to me. With Bodden & McCourty, you have two potential Pro Bowl caliber CBs. Dowling is a very promising rookie. Arrington filled in nicely and is decent depth. And I think Butler made some real strides at the end of last season that can be built upon, and he can excel as a slot corner. We've had some missed 2nd rounders and seen them disappear in their 2nd or 3rd year (Wheatley..), but Butler I see actually doing the opposite.
  7. TheSolderKing

    TheSolderKing Rookie

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    Running Backs RUN- I realize they gotta read holes.... I ABSOLUTELY HATE the low experience argument. You either have it or you don't. Most players learn and get better. I much rather have this bunch of backs than Fragile Fred. I don't care for Morris I hope he is gone.

    Lo-mo sh!ts on the "experience" statement. You Learn w/ time. Natural SKILL gets you way further imo and we have SKILLED backs:)
  8. IllegalContact

    IllegalContact On the Roster

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    depends on how you define depth....to me depth is the quality of the whole group, not just the quality of the starters.

    QB - depth is good
    RB - depth is good......rookies as depth is not an issue. both vereen and ridley have sound fundamentals
    WR - depth is not good.......an unproven bench is a bigger issue here than with RB's......especially given the fact that everyone on the bench has had opportunities to get on the field.....tate, price, edelman are still not considered reliable, and branch and welker have shown tendencies of getting beat up
    TE - depth is good
    OL - depth is good, hole at starting RG, but as a unit, there are plenty of bodies.....need light back
    DL - depth is OK......Twarren,wilfork,stroud,wright,brace,love,deaderick
    LB - depth is very good.....its just that the quality of the starting OLB's is suspect......
    CB - depth is good
    S - depth is good provided page comes back......would not be suprised to see dowling get his feet wet at this position

    put it this way........if the pats are tired in the 4th quarter, then they need a new strength and conditioning guy.......they have the bodies at every position except WR
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  9. NEGoldenAge

    NEGoldenAge Banned

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    You are over simplifying with the statement "you either have it or you don't". Having "vision" as a RB will probably make you productive in college, but the "risk vs. reward" decision making becomes a much larger factor in the NFL where the average defenders are bigger, more athletic and much more sound at tackling. BB has mentioned this trait specifically as a make or break quality for a college RB transitioning to the NFL. He stated that some RBs are quickly able to balance the risk vs reward, some take a while to adjust and some never quite get it.
  10. supafly

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    #24 Jersey

    Since I am the only one who mentioned QB, I will correctly assume that you were talking about me.

    You are right, as a whole, QB is not 'bad'--yet I did try to explain my rationale. It isn't 'good' either. There WILL be significant dropoff, my statement is true. However, by stating this "it isn't exactly the backups fault," I assumed that you would realize what I meant. I was listing positions where we'd see significant dropoff, and maybe that was wrong of me to include QB.

    If you are comfortable with Brian Hoyer, who basically has no game playing experience in the NFL, and a rookie who has not played a down then so be it.

    And considering Deus question of "do you see any positions that could possibly derail our Super Bowl run?"---This is a position that I do...And I would think that everyone should too. That all said, the "depth" at QB is about as good as it's going to get, so we'll have to continue to all hold our breaths. Unless, like I said, you see Brian Hoyer leading us to the Super Bowl?
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  11. IllegalContact

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    with the way salary caps go and how other teams look at backups, I believe QB here is fine.......hoyer has been around enough to be able to execute withou tmaking too many mistakes while mallett would need some work, but offers as much in terms of raw ability of any QB in the NFL......I think mallett has the 'it' in terms of pocket presence.......he's confident and to a degree, the same 'I'll show the world' opportunity that brady had.......mallett can make 'the throw' that few others can
  12. supafly

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    #24 Jersey

    You don't have to defend Ryan Mallett to me, I was the one who had the pre-draft rant on why we should take a backup QB. I've had Ryan Mallett on my radar since early NCAA season last yr--I literally was quite happy with the pick, and have made my position clear.

    When you half-jokingly include..."QB--as we would see significant dropoff, although that is not exactly the backups fault" in a thread about depth, and people start to defend that against...GASP...the great Brian Hoyer, I start to become amused, that's all.

    In other words, yes I believe as a whole you are more right than wrong, but if you're trying to tell me that we wouldn't see more dropoff at QB than any other position on the team, you are kidding yourself.

    That all said, I guess for most of today's NFL (besides a handful of teams), if your starter goes down, you're screwed for the year. As I have said, I suppose our QB backups are about as good as we're going to get. NO, we don't have nearly the kind of team that would go 11-5 this time either, in case someone was going to bring that up.

    I think I got confused by the whole premise of Deus' questioning "Do you see any areas that could possibly derail our SB hopes?" ---because that is an area that I assumed most would agree with me. I still will stand by that thinking, but I agree that there really is no great backup QB situation, and ours is just as good as many others, so yes you are still right too. I think if you actually read my ONE sentence explanation, you will see that we're both right---"We would see significant dropoff but, it isn't exactly the backups fault either." I still really don't see where the big confusion was to be honest.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  13. IllegalContact

    IllegalContact On the Roster

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    I wasn't defending anything.....I guess I was directing my opinion to the masses and probably should not have responded directly to you.

    my real point is that what you should have for QB depth (I do not consider starters in the depth equation) comes down to 2 things and the pats have both.....first a guy who is familiar enough with the system so that he can step in during the middle of a game (hoyer). the other is a player who can project to be a regular starter (mallett) who you can prepare in the weeks following the unthinkable happening to go in there and at least have the ability to scare you enough to make the bigger plays and have the defense stretched out again.'

    hoyer is at best a career backup......mallett will be a starter in this league
  14. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #11 Jersey

    Fair enough, the loss of a franchise QB is unquestionably a threat to any team's championship hopes. That's the nature of the position -- even a modest dropoff at QB changes your entire offense.

    To evaluate QB depth, here's a question: what teams' QB roster after the starter would you take over the Patriots'? How do you rate, say, a journeyman vet who has started a bunch of games but is new to his team vs. a Brian Hoyer who has never started a game but has been trained for years in this offense and seems to have the coaches' confidence?
  15. supafly

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    #24 Jersey

    Oh, no doubt. You and Patchick's thoughts are more than fair, and I agree entirely. You are both more 'right' than I was, and I have no problem saying that. I think that Mallett has the 'it' factor that you talk of.

    Like I said, I think I meshed the thoughts with Deus' questioning of the possible derailment of SB dreams, and in that case, I still think that we'd see the most significant downgrading of ANY position at the one of QB. I think that is where my confusion lied.
  16. Ron Sellers

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    Strictly in terms of depth as opposed to starting talent, one that jumps out to me is the offensive line, specifically tackle. This is tough to project due to uncertainty of who the Patriots will re-sign, but as of right now who is there if Vollmer or Solder gets hurt? Light may not be re-signed and supposedly the Pats want Kaczur to take a pay cut, and he is refusing to do so. That leaves Mark LeVoir, free agent Quinn Ojinnaka, and practice squad players Thomas Austin and Steve Maneri.

    The interior line is not as bad, though again one injury could really hurt. If Logan Mankins is injured or holds out, now you are starting Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell. Would the Pats ask Stephen Neal to come out of retirement? Again Ojinnaka is unsigned, and it looks like Kaczur won't be back. Beyond those two is Rich Ohrnberger and Marcus Cannon, who may or may not be ready to go.

    I would say inside linebacker. There's not a whole lot of dropoff in my opinion from Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes to Gary Guyton and Dane Fletcher, relatively speaking. The other is cornerback, with Leigh Bodden, Devin McCourty, Ras-I Dowling, Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite. My only hesitation in not ranking CB first is that I thought that was a position of the greatest depth at this time last year, but by the time the season got under way the Pats two top corners were two players with no starting NFL experience, way down on that original depth chart.
  17. supafly

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    #24 Jersey

    Sorry--was posting at the same time that you were.

    I would think that there are only a handful of teams that would NOT see much downgrading. Those would only include maybe Bulger, and Kitna seemed to do pretty well for Dallas last yr too. Off the top of my head, I am sure there's another one or so, but I really can't think of him.

    I would rate the journeyman QB who is new to the system slightly ahead of a guy like Hoyer who knows the system, just only on the fact that they'd have more experience at certain situations.

    I think that obviously BB thinks highly enough of Hoyer to have kept him, so that's pretty much good enough for me, LOL. There's the argument that we don't really know what Hoyer or Mallett have in terms of NFL QB'ing, and that they may be the next Matt Cassel, or even Tom Brady--but that's likely a stretch. Hopefully, the injury wouldn't be bad enough that we'd miss Brady for more than 6-8 games, and the backups could hold the fort down enough to keep us competitive in the meantime.
  18. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #11 Jersey

    Interesting, I see the interior line as a far bigger depth problem than tackle. Right now OT lines up a pro-bowl caliber player in Vollmer, a middling but experienced vet in Kaczur, a veteran backup in LeVoir and a hotshot rookie in Solder, with Maneri as a wildcard.

    At guard and center, though, with Mankins currently unsigned you have one veteran center who is widely believed to be on the decline, one serviceable vet who'd do best at RG (Connolly), one undersized OG/C backup who has been cut multiple times (Wendell), another undersized OG/C backup who was cut just last season (Ohrnberger), and an intriguing rookie who has only played tackle and is fresh off chemotherapy (Cannon). Even fielding three starters from that group is pretty sketchy.
  19. Ron Sellers

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    I can see your point; interior line certainly does not have the quality depth other units that DL, ILB, S or CB have. I was trying to focus strictly on Deus' original question about depth beyond the starters. Personally I don't believe Kaczur will be back, but if he is shouldn't he count as depth at guard also? Wasn't that where the Pats had planned on using him before he was injured?

    Regardless, the offensive line is a unit where the overall depth is a concern and should be addressed once free agency begins.
  20. townes

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    QB first and foremost, and there is no solution unless they sign Manning as the back-up. Hoyer could play his ass off and it would still be next to im possible to win it all without Brady.
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