The college season is done and the deadline for juniors to declare has passed. Here's my first mock FA and draft. Assumptions: 1. Pats believe that Tom Brady is likely to come back for 2009. 2. Pats DO NOT trade DE Richard Seymour unless someone is willing to give them a 1st round pick (which is possible, given that Jason Taylor was traded for a 2nd round pick). 3. Pats are reasonably confident that they will be able to extend DT Vince Wilfork. 4. Pats get 3rd round comp pick for Asante Samuel and 4th/5th round comp pick for Randall Gay. Needs: - Major/short-term: CB (Hobbs a FA after 2009; Wheatley/Wilhite still not proven); S (Harrison at or near retirement, Sanders/Williams FAs); ILB (Bruschi/Seau at/near retirement, need complement to Mayo/Guyton); OLB (Vrabel a part-time player or near retirement, need more aggressive pass rush); ROT (need Kaczur upgrade). - Minor/longer term: RB (RB by committee effective but no clear #1 and Maroney still unproven); third receiving option; TE (Watson a FA after 2009 and Thomas still unproven); OG (Mankins a FA after 2009; Neal effective but aging and injury prone); DE (Wright a FA, Seymour/Green FAs after 2009); DT (backup for Wilfork); P (Hanson adequate but not great). Overall plan: - Resign key personnel wherever reasonable. Address ROT and CB in FA to bring in veterans who can plug wholes immediately. If possible, bring in one reasonably priced TE/WR option. Where unable to resign our own FAs for reasonable $$, target cost-effective outside alternatives. - Prioritize building an intimidating, attacking, disruptive, opportunistic defense. Current approach is too permissive/reactive. Details: 1. Franchise Matt Cassel and trade him to Detroit for 1(20) + conditional 2010 pick (3rd -> 1st depending on performance and results). Franchise as insurance against Brady comeback and to get value for him. Trade when it becomes apparent Brady is recovering well. Detroit has 2 first round picks, so trading for Cassel would give them a QB ready to play and allow them room to address their other main needs. Equally possible would be trades to Tampa Bay for 1(19) or Minnesota for 1(22). With only Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez as likely first round QBs there is not much to choose from and someone will miss out unless they roll the dice on Cassel. 2. Sign UFA OT Jordan Gross (Carolina; 28, 6'4", 305#). Gross is 28, can play both L and R tackle, and fits the Patriots mold. Would allow Light to eventually move to RT. Kaczur and Levoir would be backups, and Kaczur could also play RG and possible replace Neal over time. Contract would be likely be similar to what Tennessee gave Michael Roos. Vernon Carey (Miami) is also an option but will likely be franchised. Khalif Barnes (Jacksonville) is also an option. John Runyan (Philadelphia) may be a short-term option. 3. Sign UFA CB Jabari Greer (Buffalo; 26, 5'10" 180#). Buffalo has McKelvin developing, freeing up Greer. Solid upgrade over ONeal. Core of Greer/Hobbs/Wheatley/Wilhite would be solid. Guards against Hobbs becoming FA in 2009. Doesn't break bank. Other options include Dunta Robinson (Houston), Bryant McFadden (Pittsburgh) and Kelvin Haden (Indianapolis). Richard Marshall (RFA, Carolina) and Carlos Rogers (Washington) would likely require giving up draft picks or trading. 4. Sign UFA TE Owen Daniels (Houston); 26, 6'3", 247#. Productive young TE with over 1500 yards receiving in past 2 years. Is what Dave Thomas should have been. Protects against Watson and Thomas being FAs after 2009. 5. Resign Mike Wright (DE/DT) OR sign UFA DE Chris Canty (Dallas; 26, 6'7", 304#) OR do both and cut Jarvis Green. Keeping Wright and Green would be fine, though Green did not play up to his $5M cap hit. Canty is a young, solid 3-4 DE with great size, who would be an upgrade over either and provide insurance if Big Sey walks after 2009. 6. Resign Jabar Gaffney WR OR sign a relatively inexpensive UFA WR such as Devery Henderson (NO) or Reggie Williams (Jacksonville). I'm fine with Gaffney, who sounds like he wants to come back, but there should be reasonable alternatives available. 7. Resign Lewis Sanders S AND James Sanders S OR Tank Williams S OR sign UFA Sean Jones S (Cleveland). Only Meriweather is under contract. Rodney is probably done. We need 4 safeties, and plan to draft one, leaving a need for 2. Lewis Sanders is probably the most versatile of the 3 Pats FAs (can play CB as well), was playing well at the end of 2008, and is probably the cheapest and easiest to resign. Could resign James Sanders if reasonable $$ or go with an outside FA of comparable value. Williams is uncertain after his injury, and could be brought back if unable to sign or draft a fourth safety. 8. Release or do not resign Rodney Harrison S, Junior Seau ILB, Deltha ONeal CB, Roosevelt Colvin ILB, Larry Izzo ILB, Eric Alexander ILB, Wesley Britt OT, Ryan O'Callaghan OT/G, Dan Connely OT, Billy Yates G, Lamont Jordan RB, Sam Aiken WR, Ray Ventrone WR, Antwai Spann WR, Matt Slater WR/S/KR, Tyson DeVree TE. Harrison is a god but is too old and injury prone. Seau is an option if Bruschi retires, but otherwise can be kept on the shadow roster for insurance while he surfs. Colvin hasn't shown much since his injury, and needs to make room for youth. Jordan would be great to keep, but will probably be too expensive. The rest are just JAGs. 9. Restructure Mike Vrabel and Stephen Neal if possible. Vrabel is fading fast but still offers leadership and experience. Neal is injury prone and aging. Signing Gross allows Kaczur to move to RG if Neal can't be resigned for less. Restructuing both frees up some needed $$ for FA. 10. Minor resignings: Heath Evans, Pierre Woods. I see Woods and Vince Redd fighting it out for the last OLB spot and Evans and Law Firm fighting it out for the last RB spot. 2009 Draft: 1(22): Sean Smith, S/CB (Utah) - 6'3", 215#, 4.44. Smith is large and fast with great range and could play both CB and S. William Moore could also be a potential pick here. <TRADE: NE Trades 1(23) + 2(57) to the New York Giants for 1(29) and 2(44). This is not strictly necessary, but I could easily see us trading down in the first (particularly if we get a second first round pick for Cassel) to move up in the second because this draft is so deep.> 1(29): Paul Kruger, DE/OLB (Utah) - 6'3", 265#, 4.68. Kruger is mature, has a non-stop motor, and is a high character guy. He has some experience covering the TE as a DE. He is reminiscent of Jared Allen (whom BB was rumored to love last year), and has the athleticism, intelligence and intensity to play the elephant and replace Mike Vrabel at OLB. Other options would include Michael Johnson, Aaron Maybin, and Cliff Sintim. 2(44): Connor Barwin, DE/LB (Cincinnati)- 6'3", 255#, 4.64. Perfect Pats-type player. Versatile - played TE, DE/OLB in college, can probably move inside and play SILB to complement Mayo. As a former tight end, could double on offense, and also has good hands and coverage ability. Trio of Mayo/Barwin/Guyton would give the Pats a great young nucleus at ILB for years to come. Could also cover OLB. Very high motor - never lets up. A bit reminiscent of David Pollack. High character player. Still developing, with very high upside. Clint Sintim (see above) would also be a possibility here if he falls, as someone able to play both 3-4 OLB and SILB. I think Barwin has more upside. Karlos Dansby (UFA, Arizona) would make a great SILB complement to Mayo if we went the FA route (instead of Jordan Gross, and used this pick on an OT such as William Beatty from Connecticut), but the price would be high and there is a lot of talent in the draft. 2(47): Alex Mack, OG/C (Cal) - 6'4", 314#, 5.12. Another perfect Pats-type player who falls to the mid-second round because of a perceived lack of athleticism. Highly intelligent, high motor player who could back up OG and upgrade center, where Koppen has been overmatched against powerful DTs. 3(86): Devin Moore, RB (Wyoming) - 5'10#, 191#, 4.40. Darren Sproles type all-purpose threat. 3(97): Jarett Dillard, WR (Rice) - 5'11", 185#, 4.50. Greg Jennings type wide receive who falls to 3rd round because of talented WR class plus lack of size and timed speed. Precise route runner, good hands, productive. Great Shrine game practices. 4(122): Ken Huber, P (Cincinnati) - 6'1", 22-#, 4.85. Best punter in nation, gives us a Mike Scifres type of punter as a major upgrade from Hanson. Particularly good at pinning opponents insidethe 20. 4(comp): BPA, ideally 3-4 DT candidate to backup Vince. I could also seeing us take Huber here and trading our 4th round pick along with other considerations to move up into the third round and grab an NT backup such as Terrance Taylor (Michigan). The remaining picks can be used for trading (up or into 2010) or to pick up practice squad material, as there will be no room on the roster. 2009 roster: QB (3): TBrady, KO'Connell, MGutierrez RB (5): LMaroney, SMorris, KFaulk, DMoore, HEvans WR (5): RMoss, WWelker, JGaffney, JDillard, KWashington TE (3): ODaniels, BWatson, DThomas OT (4): JGross, MLight, MLevoir, NKaczur OG/C (5): LMankins, DKoppen, SNeal, AMack, RHochstein DT (3): VWilfork, LSmith, <draftee> DE (4): RSeymour, TWarren, MWright/CCanty, JGreen OLB (5): AThomas, MVrabel, PKruger, SCrable, VRedd/PWoods ILB (4): JMayo, GGuyton, CBarwin, TBruschi S (4): BMeriweather, SSmith, JSanders/SJones, LSanders CB (5): EHobbs, JGreer, TWheatley, GWilhite, +1 P: KHuber K: SGostkowski LS: LPaxton If someone can eventually take over LS from Paxton I could see opening up a 6th WR spot. Thoughts?