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Discussion in 'Patriots Draft Talk' started by BradyManny, Nov 7, 2008.

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  1. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    Continuing on with the series...I move onto the position that was considered such a need going into the April draft, and between Mayo, Guyton, Redd, Ruud & Crable, not to mention the progress of Woods, it seems the team may have settled that issue, to say the least. As you'll see, I don't really see LB as an area of need, and think all its need can be filled with players that are on the roster or PS...


    LINEBACKERS (11), 6 signed, 5 unsigned


    OLB - Thomas (2011)
    OLB - Vrabel (2009)
    ILB - Mayo (2012)
    ILB - Guyton (2009)
    ILB - Bruschi (2009)
    OLB - Crable (2011)


    FA
    OLB - Woods (RFA)
    ILB - Alexander (RFA)
    LB - Izzo

    Practice Squad
    OLB - Redd
    ILB - Ruud

    LOCKS (6):
    Thomas, Vrabel and Crable are locks on the outside. Mayo and Guyton are locks inside, with Bruschi a lock providing he returns for another season.

    SPOTS UP FOR GRAB (3):
    1) Backup OLB/situational pass rusher and or long term replacement for Vrabel 2) Versatile ILB, who can fill in and or rotate at WILB & SILB 3) Depth at either position, but with the ability to contribute on ST

    CURRENT COMPETITION FOR OPEN SPOTS (5):

    - Woods has shown he can be the 3rd OLB on the roster, and has been a consistent contributor on ST. He would be worth retaining if the price is right
    - Redd is a very intriguing prospect on the practice squad. It will be interesting to see how much he progressed, he will have the opportunity to compete for a roster spot.
    - Izzo is a leader on ST, and until a player demonstrate they can replace him in that regard, he will likely have a spot. Ideally, another younger player can do his job on ST and provide more upside as a contributor on defense.
    - Ruud is spending the year on IR and seems to be unlikely to beat out the competition for a roster spot.
    - Alexander has been a great ST player, but has little upside on defense and can probably be replaced via the draft, doubtful he will be re-signed.


    PLAN OF ACTION VIA DRAFT/FREE AGENCY:
    - This position seems to be in good shape short term and long term. The team will likely grab another ILB to bring into the mix with Mayo & Guyton, presumably anywhere in the draft where they can find good value.
    - Hopefully between Crable, Redd & Woods (RFA), they have a potential long term replacement for Vrabel. If they see a player with greater upside or potential, likely during Day 1 of the draft, they could take that player. Otherwise, and especially if Woods is brought back, OLB is not a need.

    Bottom Line: 2-3 players needed, all which could come internally. They could add another player via the draft at ILB, but OLB will only be augmented if a) Woods is not resigned b) a high upside 3-4 OLB presents itself in the draft. If Izzo does not return, look for the ST position to be filled internally first, but the team could spend some Day 2 picks and UDFA taking flyers on either LB position.
  2. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    Really good breakdown, I could go either way in 2009.

    Option 1 - They can it basically as-is and there is a nice set of LBs, good mix of youth and veterans but no special talents.
    Option 2 - Draft or sign an impact player, especially on the edge. A top end player improves depth across the board and OLB is vital to the scheme. I really like the Steelers model, draft a lot of LBs and keep the pipeline going.
  3. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Last year, at least, the Patriots followed that model--they did sign five LBs, all of whom are still on the payroll.
  4. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    Good I like it, lets do it again next year.
  5. BritPat

    BritPat Rookie

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    #54 Jersey

    Really nice write up first and foremost.

    Regarding the notion of 'need' at the position, as we know the 3-4 defensive scheme is successful because of these three basic premises:

    1. Your 3 defensive lineman can both generate some kind of pass rush, and contain the run.

    2. Your ILB's can plug any gaps inside, taking on and defeating blockers, and they can also drop back into coverage.

    3. Maybe the key to the whole scheme - your OLB's can set the edge against the run, can drop into coverage if required, but maybe more importantly can generate consistently good pass rush.

    It seems our scheme has passed the test on points 1 & 2 this season, and our D has been average to good (someone pointed out the other day that the Fins game aside, our D is giving up only 3.7 ypc on the ground), but in my opinion (the key bit), for it to be elite again, we need at least one outstanding rusher off the edge, as we used to have (and indeed had that last season), and we get that in one of two ways.

    1. One of our current OLB's steps up their current production. Thomas has 5 sacks on the year, not bad on the face of it 8 games in, but looking at some of the teams faced (KC, St. Louis, Denver, 49ers), you'd be hoping he had more. Vrabel has 2 sacks on the year - at this point last season he had 7.5 sacks, on a much tougher schedule. Then there's Pierre, who's shown he can set the edge, but has shown little in terms of getting to the QB. After that this year, we have little else at OLB.

    2. We draft a Merriman/Ware/Harrison/Woodley to play outside and offer that 'sudden' (as Ochmed so accurately puts it) presence off the edge to not allow teams a moments respite. Granted, this time next year we might already have that in Crable or even Redd, but as others have said, is there truly anything wrong with having a fair number of excellent young LB's? Elite pass rushers are the key to seeing this scheme work as I've said, and we need more.
  6. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    Agreed - option 2 is a luxury though, if the Pats are in the position to pull the trigger on a high potential OLB, then they can do it. But they don't have to reach or go out of their way to do it.


    Another thought - looking at the squad on paper, ILB depth might look thin, especially with Alexander banged up and not having played on the defense at all this year. But I'm guessing that Seau is a phone call away for this year or next year. Not to mention, if Mayo (god forbid) were to go down w an injury, in the base 3-4, Woods could come in, Thomas could slide to SILB & Bru to WILB.

    Also, I have Tank Williams mentioned in my safety breakdown which I haven't posted, but he's worth throwing in here. I have a feeling that if he's healthy, he's re-signed, the team invested a whole TC of training him at ILB.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2008
  7. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    Yes, this is where I'm glad I'm not on the Patriots personnel staff and that they leave these decisions to Pioli and BB - b/c its a tough question.

    BOR commented on Vrabel's drop off in sack production in another thread, and the other factors that are involved. As for AD, I've been happy with his pass rushing so far. He's very quick for his size, and he is pretty powerful, too. But up until about week 4 or 5 I think, he was dropping in coverage a lot. Even in the Colts game, he wasn't exactly teeing off in pass rushing situations, I noticed a lot in the 2nd half he would just engage a blocker and had the responsibility to wait to see what the RB was doing. So, basically, I'm not sure if OLB's pass rushing can be upgraded all that much...but I'm open to the thought.

    The three guys on the depth chart beyond the starters, Woods, Crable and then from the PS, Redd, raise another interesting question. What do they envision Crable's role to be down the road? Is Woods re-signed? And Redd, sure, he might on the surface seem expendable, but the "oh, he's just a UDFA" has proven to be a rash judgment based on Guyton and BJGE's contributions. And Redd specifically was a guy that seemed like a good fit for the Pats even before we signed him, he had some experience doing all 3 things in college, setting edge, dropping in coverage, and rushing the passer. Now, he's had a year in the system. Where does that leave him? Again, the team has invested in him, he'll have a chance to earn a roster spot next year.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2008
  8. Seneschal2

    Seneschal2 Rookie

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    IF, we want to add even more youth to the OLB position, one prospect to consider may be: Connor Barwin, a 6-4 255 senior DE from Cincinnati. A Former TE, he leads his team in sacks while also being a standout on ST. This versatility and ST ability make him a possible developmental candidate. A R2-3 projection.
  9. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    You had BB at "tight end." :rofl:
  10. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    BOR mentioned this kid in another thread...

    http://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/13/171477-if-we-want-te-help.html


    Barwin is a 2/3 projection and rising currently.. So he could, very well, be a guy the Patriots look at with the San Diego pick...

    And he could be the next Mike Vrabel.... lining up at the TE spot in Goal Line formations.
  11. Ochmed Jones

    Ochmed Jones Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    I may have the wrong DE, but one fo the DE's fro Cincy had a monster game against WVU.
  12. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

  13. VJCPatriot

    VJCPatriot Rookie

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    Thomas just suffered a broken arm and our OLBs aren't exactly young except for Crable who also is on IR. Additionally the Pats still need a guy who can rush the QB. I think a pass rushing OLB will be a priority in the 2009 draft.
  14. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Nice look.

    Bru may lose his "starter" job before the end of the season with Guyton's progress. Bru is still the instinctive veteran, but he is being phased out as his age slows him - I can't call him a lock for 2009, but I'd be really happy to hear he was being called "coach."

    I like how Pierre Woods is progressing, nice and steady. I expect him back for 2009.

    Crabel and Ruud have been put into the "Hope" chest for next season, Redd is the kid who seems most likely to find a role on the team through Special Teams, based on the reports of his Scout team work.

    I like how the future looks for the Linebacker Corps, and I would look at drafting another ILB and signing a UDFA ILB, the same for OLB. A pass rushing demon might be better bought through Free Agency.
  15. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    Pierre Woods says "HI".
    Define priority. Do you mean it as a MUST HAVE in the 1st round regardless of the cost? Or do you mean, somewhere in the top 3 rounds?

    Honestly, I don't see the Pats drafting an high round OLB unless they've wiffed on brining in someone AND have parted ways with either Thomas, Vrabel or Woods.

    Also, I wouldn't count out either Crable or Vince Redd as potential starters. People on this board don't like to be reminded of history, but I am going to do so again. Adalius Thomas played in only 3 games his rookie year. In his 2nd year, he played in 16, but only started in 3. Even in his 3rd year, Thomas only started 12 of 16. Redd and/or Crable could make advancements and follow the same hard working path that Thomas did. Only time will tell.
  16. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    You may be right, but there are a number of DE/OLB hybrids that will likely be available when the Pats pick in rounds 1-3: Orakpo, Michael Johnson, Selvie, Hardy, Evans...as well as the traditional OLBs (though they would likely translate inside for the Pats): Curry, Cushing, Freeman, Sintim. Just may be too much value to pass on them if they slip.

    That point aside, there is no possible scenario where Clay Matthews (USC) is not in the Pats training camp in '09.
  17. fester

    fester Rookie

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    I would like to see the Patriots use one of their second or third round picks on an OLB conversion project because as you point out, they take time and there is significant uncertainty in the conversion. Starting with higher quality talent reduces both the time and uncertainty costs, and if the pick works out so that the Patriots get an 8 to 10 sack a year guy who can also set the edge, it allows them to avoid a 5 year 15 million guaranteed, 35 million dollar total FA contract. And if not, oh well, the Pats have survived with bad second and third round choices before.
  18. ctpatsfan77

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    You do realize, of course, that by making this statement, you've now created a scenario where it doesn't happen? :) :(
  19. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    The only way I can see them drafting a first round OLB is if its just clearly the BPA on the board, or someone slips, etc. If Cushing fell, for instance. I also like what I hear about Marcus Freeman, but he might project inside for the Pats, I'd guess.

    Basically, I think like a few other positions, OLB is not an area of need, but could be one of potential upgrade. IE, they could find a guy with more upside than Crable or Redd in a position in the draft where they'd be getting great value, so they pull the trigger.
  20. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    Redd also seems to be the guy with the most experience in terms of Pats OLB responsibilities. And he likes being versatile:

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