Trade details

The Patriots trade No. 7 and No. 164 (fifth round) for the No. 10 overall selection and the No. 78 overall selection.

Some early draft thoughts

•No real shockers with the first two picks. Although I’m pretty sure that if Al Davis was still alive, he’d be steamed at the sight of Howie Long in a Rams cap.

•The selection of Matt Ryan (a franchise quarterback) by the Falcons seems to run counter to the traditional team-building approach employed by former Patriots’ guy Thomas Dimitroff. That approach would dictate a process that is building from the front out — maybe this says something about what they think of Dorsey or any of the other big bodies that are available. Maybe this also says something about who might be in charge in Atlanta. Maybe I’m just an idiot. But we’ll see. For what it’s worth, we’re pretty sure that it’s the highest a BC guy has ever gone.

•Who here thinks that Herm Edwards could be convinced to trade the fifth overall pick for a bag of magic beans?

We’re at Gillette

Hey everyone … we’re at Gillette Stadium, ready to blog our way through the NFL Draft. Not a lot of folks–mostly just the usual local reporters. We’ll bring you all sorts of updates throughout the day, including the transcripts of the Q&A’s from the draft picks and Coach Belichick.

Pats statement on Matt Walsh/NFL agreement

This was jsust passed along by the Patriots:

The New England Patriots are pleased to learn that Matt Walsh is finally willing to come forward to meet with the NFL. We are eagerly anticipating his honest disclosures to Commissioner Goodell next month and the return of all the materials he took during his time of employment. We fully expect this meeting to conclude the league’s investigation into a damaging and false allegation that was originally levied against the team on the day before this year’s Super Bowl.

It is important to note that there has never been a confidentiality agreement restricting Matt Walsh and no legal protections were ever necessary for him to speak to the NFL, to media outlets or to anyone else regarding his employment with the Patriots. He demanded to be released from responsibility for his statements, and after a frustrating and lengthy negotiation period, a settlement has finally been reached. Walsh has been granted a significant number of privileges through this agreement, none of which the Patriots or the NFL were obligated to give.

At all times, we cooperated fully with the league’s investigation and stand by our initial public statement from Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008: “The suggestion that the New England Patriots recorded the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 is absolutely false.”

The Patriots’ organizational focus at this time is on the NFL Draft and preparing f

Vince Wilfork Q&A, 4/16

Thanks to the folks in the Patriots’ PR office, here’s the full transcript of Vince Wilfork’s Q&A with reporters this morning at Gillette Stadium:

Q: How has the offseason conditioning program been going?
VW: It’s going wonderful. This year I started early on my diet. Normally I wait until further down the line to start it, but I think it’s best for me to start it this early. It’s the first time I’m starting it this early, so I’m going to see. I’m feeling good and the workouts are coming along well. The team’s coming along well. Hopefully everything will pan out for us.

Q: Have you lost weight already?
VW: Yeah. I’ve lost a couple of pounds. I’ve lost about 10 pounds already. But, I want to bulk up this year. Conditioning is a huge area when playing this sport, especially for me, being able to stay on the field as long as I can. That’s always going to be a big goal for me in my career from here on out and even past football. That’s going well. I’m looking forward to the draft and meeting my new teammates. I’m looking forward to everything. We’ve started getting on a roll. It starts now, so we’re out doing a hell of a job now to be ready in August.

Q: Has there been a sense of real purpose in these workouts because of any quote-unquote unfinished business from last year?
VW: Every year you go into the offseason and go into camp wanting to get better. You always look at film and see what you can get better at. We lost the Super Bowl. That was a goal of ours to win. Every team that’s in this league, that’s the goal, to win the big dance. We came up short last year and we’re going to do whatever it takes to get back there and try to win. We’re all starting on the same playing field. We’re all starting 0-0 and we just have to climb the ladder. At the end of the day, there’s going to be two teams left. It’s a long time away from that, but you have to start now, getting everything in order leading up to that time. When that time presents itself, we have to be ready for it. Hopefully we will. We’re working hard for it. I don’t expect anything other than hard work from everybody in there in the offseason, having a great offseason and taking that into camp.

Q: Given that it’s a new year, has there been any time to look back on last season?
VW: Not really, to be honest with you. We did a couple of good things last year, but you play this game for one thing and one thing only and that’s the Super Bowl, which we lost. To me personally – I can’t speak for the team and I can’t speak for Bill [Belichick] – I think we just fell short of our goal. Whatever we have to do to get back to that level and win, I’m willing to do. I’m pretty sure come training camp, it’s going to be in the back of everybody’s mind. The whole season, it’s going to be in the back of everybody’s mind. Me as a person, I think we just came up short. 18-0 really doesn’t mean anything to me. 18-0 doesn’t put a ring on my finger. Whatever it takes to get back to that level of play for me to help my ballclub, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m working hard this offseason to do that.

Q: The defining play of the Super Bowl – Eli Manning’s throw to David Tyree – do you ever play that back in your mind at all?
VW: No. That was a great catch and a great throw. There was good pressure by our defense. You really can’t see anything wrong with that play, to be honest with you. He made a catch. An unbelievable catch. He made the throw with a guy hanging on him. Moments like that, you can’t be mad at yourself. It was up for grabs and we had every opportunity in the world to close the chapter, but the Giants came out and they fought until the final seconds and walked away victorious. You’ve got to give credit where credit is due. But this year, like I say, we’re starting from the same level. They were champs last year, but it’s a whole new season. It’s a new ballclub. There are new guys rolling in here. It’s going to be a tough one, but it starts now in the offseason.

Q: Have you watched that play?
VW: I haven’t watched the Super Bowl yet. I don’t plan on watching it either. So like I said, that’s in the past and we’ve got to move forward. There are probably some things we can learn from it, but there are a bunch of things that we can learn from throughout the course of the season. I’m pretty sure that through training camp we’ll probably take plays from there and also from other places to use as a teaching tool and to learn from and to move on. But to sit down and watch the whole 60 minutes of that ballgame, I don’t think that’s necessary.

Q: You’ve been doing your draft party for quite a few years now.
VW: It’s the fifth year this year.

Q: Understanding that it has a personal basis, losing your father to the effects of diabetes, how has the response been? Do you feel like people really understand it and are getting on board with you on this?
VW: Yeah. I’m getting a lot of support, especially from my organization. Family, friends, fans, media … I think everybody understands what diabetes is and what it does. The one thing that hurts me the most – my father, he suffered from it for 12, 13 years – but when I get a kid coming to my house and he’s six, seven years old and he’s got juvenile diabetes, that’s very touching. I have two kids of my own, a 10-year-old and a five-year-old, and they’re very healthy. I’m very blessed. I’m pretty healthy, my wife’s pretty healthy, my kids are healthy. But seeing a kid go through what I’ve seen my father go through for 12 or so years, that’s very touching to me. I’ve made it my point to do something about it, and that’s why I have this draft day party. On the same token, it’s to raise money for diabetes and to come out and have a good time, bowl and to enjoy meeting some players, enjoy meeting my family and my friends and to just kick back and see how I am off the field. I’m a normal person. Sometimes people don’t understand that we are normal. I live a normal life. A lot of people don’t understand that because I’m playing all the time. I think it’s one thing that I can do to give back to the community. Give back to DRI [Diabetes Research Institute]. It’s something that’s close to my heart because of the effects that I’ve seen in my own household. It’s just a chance for people to get to know me. Anyone who’s interested can go to my website, vincewilfork75.com. For more information, you can go to pinzbowl.com. It’s not for me. It’s for DRI and fans and friends. We’ll have a good time, I can guarantee you that.

Q: Talk about how much this draft party has grown since the first time you had one on the day you were drafted.
VW: It’s getting bigger and bigger. Every year it’s better and better. I think last year we raised close to $50,000. I think we’re almost close to that now and draft day isn’t here yet. Every year I’m proud. Every year there are different people coming on board. Thanks to you guys, you’ve given me media coverage and are putting out stuff for me all the time. People don’t realize, I actually promote it myself. I’m a hands-on type of guy. Me and my kids, we actually get out and hand out flyers ourselves. I don’t have anyone do my dirty work for me. I’m out working also. That’s the type of person I am. I really enjoy it because … Just to see a kid walking into their house and I’m stopping by in my car getting out with a piece of paper and they’re just looking at me, like, “That’s Vince Wilfork!” It’s amazing, just to see people’s facial expressions. Everybody thinks that we’re different, but I’m no different than you guys. I just have a different job title, that’s all. I’m happy with the rate it’s going, the way it’s going, and hopefully I can raise a bunch of money and help out a bunch of people, especially the kids.

Q: Because you can live with diabetes for 50, 60, 70 years, do you feel that the general public doesn’t really understand how serious the disease is?
VW: Yeah. Exactly. Like I said, I saw my father suffer for 12 years. Every year, it went from losing eyesight to hearing to limbs, to toes, to every month losing something. It was basically just seeing my father die slowly. That’s what it came to. My brother and I … I was nine or 10 years old and had to carry my father to the bathroom because he was so weak he couldn’t walk. A lot of people don’t understand that because people live with it. I mean, it’s doable, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time it can get out of hand if you don’t take care of it. It can get out of hand. That’s what we’re trying to prevent. We’re trying to make sure that people are aware of what it can cause. Over the past years, by doing what I’m doing and everybody else doing what they do, I think a lot of people are starting to look at it in a different light now. It’s starting to raise eyebrows, because every year somebody different is coming to me and telling me about their friends, family or somebody that just got diagnosed with it, or whose had it for this long and it got better thanks to all the research. The thing about being in Boston is that we’ve got one of the best doctors around up there at Mass General. A lot of people come here and they’ve got a great medical staff up there. That helps us out also.

Q: You mentioned that you’re glad to be healthy. How much of that goes through your mind when you start your offseason diet?
VW: That’s the main thing that goes through my mind. Life after football, that’s my biggest key. While I’m playing football, it’s easy to come shed pounds, get stronger and be well conditioned. But, when I stop playing football I don’t know what my weight’s going to do. I’m trying to train my body now so that whenever I do decide to retire, it’s not a struggle for me or my body’s already used to it and it’s a natural habit that I have, losing weight. It’s going to come one day. I’m going to have to give this game up. I hate to say it, but that’s the truth. When it happens, I have to be prepared for whatever’s in store for me, knowing my family history of high blood pressure, diabetes, sugar and all that good stuff. I have to stay on top of that now. That’s one of the main things why I’m so dedicated to the offseason program, to make sure that I’m healthy and I stay that way. I’m trying to create better habits for me and my family, to be honest with you.

Q: When you get fined, do you think that creates the wrong impression of you? Does it bother you that people maybe think of you like that?
VW: I can really sit up here and say that people who know me, guys in this room who really know me, who have had conversations with me – and that’s most of you – you know the type of person I am. I never get bad media coverage from you guys. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But, things I do on the field are not part of my everyday life. I don’t play football when I leave this stadium. I’m a totally opposite person. I’m a madman on the field, but at the same time, I’m loyal to the game. I love the game and I play it with so much tense that it’s unbelievable. I think sometimes people look at me and say, “Oh, he’s such a dirty player, blah, blah.” I’m not. I love what I do. Every fine I got this year, man, I don’t want to talk about that. Every fine I got this year, I had a great chance to argue and I did – aside from the [Brandon] Jacobs one, that was just stupid on my behalf – but everything else was ridiculous. But, what can you do? I wont stop being the player I am because I play with a lot of emotion. Those guys that I did get fines on … Buffalo, [J.P.] Losman, I talked with him the second game and there are no hard feelings there. Even Jacobs, we talked during the Super Bowl, during a timeout. No hard feelings there. The face mask with San Diego, no hard feelings there with [Michael] Turner. These guys know me. The guys that I play with know me. My coaching staff knows me. You guys know me. Those are the only people I’m really concerned about. Anyone else, I don’t really care.

Q: Do you take it somewhat as a compliment when someone says, “Vince Wilfork, he’s a bad dude out there”?
VW: It can mean a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how they’re using it. I don’t think I’m marked. I don’t think I have a history of being a bad player. Last year was a bad experience, getting fines. But at the same token, I had to take it and roll with it because it’s who I am. It didn’t take away from any of my game. I continued to play hard. At the end of the day, I was satisfied with my play. There are a lot of things that I can get better at – that’s why you have the offseason. I’m looking forward to going forward with all of this. Hopefully, this year [knocks on side of podium], no more fines.

Q: Are there still tickets available for the fundraiser?
VW: Oh yeah. Pinzbowl.com. Tickets are available. Also check out my website for more information, vincewilfork75.com, for information on draft day and anything else that I have coming up. Thank you guys, for your time.

Bill Belichick Q&A, 4/16

Thanks to the good folks in the Patriots’ PR offices, here’s the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A this morning at Gillette Stadium:

BB: We’re plugging along here. There are still a lot of loose ends to tie up, but that’s kind of the way it usually is this time of year. Got the few last visits coming in this week and then next week’s the time where we talk a little bit of draft strategy and try to finalize some of the grades, make some comparisons of situations that might present themselves, re-evaluate the trade charts and stuff like that. I think the process is going along about like it normally does. It was a late start, but that’s when you want to start. So I think Scott [Pioli] and Nick Caserio and the rest of the scouting department have done a good job of researching, accessing a lot of information. We’ve had a lot of scouts out on the road. We’ve seen a lot of people. Hopefully, we’ll be in a position to make some good decisions and try to improve our football team next week.

Q: How much would you say the changes in the timing now, the 10 minutes in the first round, and having to have all the details straight with the league office. Is that going to really impact, or be a big change for draft rooms for all you folks?
BB: It might be. I think it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. I think the five-minute timing in rounds three through seven, it usually isn’t too much of a problem because most of those trades are pretty straightforward. If you move up in the fourth, you give them your fifth round pick and that type of thing. It’s pretty straightforward. I think in some of the more complex trades that we’ve been involved with, even last year with the San Francisco trade in the first round, there’s a little more negotiating. There’s a little more back and forth on a trade in that round than there is in the later rounds. So you can say, ‘Yeah, we’re used to dealing with the 10-minute time frame like we used to be in the second round.’ But I think those first-round trades sometimes are… there’s a little more degree of difficulty in the small moving parts than what there is in some trades in the later rounds. We’ll see how that goes. I think, probably, and we do this anyway so it’s not any big departure procedure, but you try to talk to the teams that you might be considering that are sort of in your neighborhood that you might be considering working with just to get some ideas of a parameter or who might be interested so you don’t waste time. That 10 minutes, I know when you’re waiting for somebody else to pick, it seems like it’s a long time. You’re sitting there and you guys watch that 10 minutes go by and it seems like a half hour. And that’s what it seems like for us when somebody else is on the clock. When it’s your pick and you’re on the clock, those 10 minutes seems like about 45 seconds sometimes. Being prepared for that, it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. I don’t think the second round, I don’t think that will have that much of an impact. The first round, if you’re involved in a trade, you’re going to have to get it done.

Q: You mentioned the trade chart. There’s been a version of that online that’s been passed around over the years and now there’s a new one. Has there been an adjustment in the value of those picks at the top of the draft?
BB: First of all, I think every team has their own trade charts. I don’t think there’s any one where everybody uses the same chart, although I think there is some benefit to at least knowing what some other charts are, what some other values are. You know what somebody else is looking at. That doesn’t mean you accept it, but at least you know when you’re dealing with somebody else what they may be thinking or what they might be looking at. I think that’s something you look at every year and that’s what we do. That’s part of our annual draft review and that’s something more that we’d look at next week, but you look at all of the trades that were made in the previous year’s draft and you look and say, ‘This trade, this team gave up a little bit more than we would want to give up in that situation. This team gave up a little less and that was a good trade.’ But again, ultimately, it’s just comes down to a little bit of how much you want to trade the pick. If you really want to trade it, then you’ll take less. If you really don’t want to trade it, then it might take more to get you to give it up. Some of that’s a function of how willing, I should say the seller in this case, how willing the seller is to trade and, conversely, how anxious the buyer is to buy. If they really want that pick, then they’re willing to give up more. Maybe even more than it might be worth on a so-called chart, but based on the value of the player and what they think that player will bring to their franchise, then they’re willing to pay a little bit more. I think there’s a general range, or value, but within that each situation is a little bit different. We’ll review it this year like we always do.

Q: How much do you model the situations that can occur in the draft beforehand?
BB: Model them?

Q: Maybe going through a mock draft yourself.
BB: We talk more about the value of the players than trying to get it right. It’s one thing when you have three of four players at the same position and say, ‘Well, which one? What order will we take them in?’ It’s a lot different when you’re comparing a player in one position to another player in another position on the other side of the ball. Who has more value? Who’s better now? Who’s going to be better in two years? Then you get into all of the other stuff – injury and production and so forth and so on. You’re never really comparing apples to apples. Very seldom are you comparing, sitting there talking about two receivers. It’s usually a player at one position, a player at another position, often on the other side of the ball. Maybe special teams will come into play with one player and it really doesn’t with another. So you try to go through some of those scenarios ahead of time of trying to make sure you have those players graded if you had to take them the way you would want them, or if it came down to a choice between one of two or three guys how you would order those. It’s a hard exercise. It really is because there, like I said, it’s not apples to apples. You’re looking at a lot of different things so that’s the kind of thing we do.

Q: You talk about the value of a position in a draft and the value of a player when you get to your position. Is that value in general with players left on the board or the value of a position that you need? For instance, for the sake of argument, if Matt Ryan was the top player that slipped to No. 7 was the top player on the board left and – me, personally, I can’t see you taking a quarterback-would that cause you to go in a different direction?
BB: I think the quarterback is kind of an exception to the rest of the question if I could say that. I think you look at the teams that have done that, that have a starting quarterback at that level and then drafted another one in the first round, eventually something has to give. You look at San Diego, for example, when they drafted [Philip] Rivers and they had Drew Brees. It’s just kind of prohibitive to pay two starting quarterbacks. Now, if it’s any other position, you probably can… it’s a little bit easier to work around. I’m not saying it’s ideal, but you could probably have two starting, two top-level receivers, or two top-level linemen, or two top-level whatever. I would say the quarterback is a little bit tougher. Outside of that, it really does come back down to value and just because you need a position or maybe you’d like to have a certain position and then you take the player at that position and you put his name up there on the board, once you get out there in August, or more importantly, in November and that player can’t actually perform that job or that position and play it the way you need it played then you haven’t really accomplished much. That fill-in needs and draft grades the day after the draft doesn’t really mean anything. What really means something is a year or two down the road whether the player you’ve taken can do what you selected them to do, and if he can then that’s a good pick and if he can’t then it really isn’t. What we want to try to make sure is that we get the most value for our pick and that’s a very inexact science. Sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong.

Q: How does this linebacker class, especially for 3-4 teams specifically, look compared to say the last couple of years?
BB: I think it’s about the same.

Q: How about corner? How would you assess the corner class this year?
BB: Probably more names and a little more depth. Whether that translates into more players or not, I don’t know. There will probably be more guys drafted. Whether they’re able to perform to an NFL level, we’ll see.

Q: Friday’s the deadline for restricted free agents if teams want to make an offer sheet. Do the Patriots have any plans to do that or is that still under consideration?
BB: Yeah, it’s still a possibility. Right. That would have to be done by Friday. We’ve got a couple more days. Part of that’s a function of if we were picking in X-round would we rather have X-player as a restricted player? That’s if you could get him. Then whether you would get him or not would depend on whether the team you offered matched it. So even if you did it, there’s still no assurance you would get him, but kind of the discussion would be, ‘If we had this player, gave him X-contract, would we rather do that than to pick from this other group of players in that round?’ Whatever that happens to be. That’s the kind of decision you would be making.

Q: You’ve been bringing in an awful lot of players and we sit and look at the names and the positions and we think we’re going to get an idea of where you’re going, but how much of that is really genuine interest versus a little bit of gamesmanship on your part? Because everybody’s trying to figure out who you’ll be picking if they have interest in a certain player. Everybody does it. So how much is actually fact finding as opposed to throwing other people off your scent?
BB: I don’t know. 85-15? 90-10? I don’t know. I’m sure there’s an element of that, but you know the two main reasons for bringing a player in are: No. 1, for a physical examination and No. 2 just to spend more time with the player and that’s sometimes based on … We’ve had a number of players in from the West Coast. We usually always do that. It’s hard to get to all the players on the West Coast for us, between myself and Scott Pioli and Nick [Caserio] and the scouts that scout out there. It’s easier to hit some of the other places around here, one way or another, than it is to get out there. So that’ll be a reason to spend time with somebody that you really haven’t had a chance, or maybe at the Combine, you didn’t get a chance to spend time with, or the Senior Bowl – we weren’t at the Senior Bowl this year, the scouts were but the coaches weren’t. It’s just there’s no set formula for it. It just players that you either want to spend more time with or that you want to have a physical exam with your doctors and we have the Indianapolis exams and then the re-check physicals, but sometimes there are other things that our doctors will say, ‘We recommend you bring this particular player in so that we can do X, Y exam that we weren’t able to do in Indianapolis.’ OK. And if we’re seriously considering that player, that’s something that we want to do ahead of time rather than draft him and get him in and then find out there’s a problem that we didn’t know about. Again, I wouldn’t… there are players that we feel we know pretty well and we’ve got a lot of information on them, it’s all consistent and there isn’t really a need to bring that player in so it doesn’t mean we’re not interested in that player. It just means we don’t feel like we need to bring him in.

Q: Logan Mankins was a guy that you didn’t talk to before the draft.
BB: Yeah, I don’t think Logan visited here, but James Sanders did, I believe. A lot of times with the younger players coming out, like James [Sanders], who came out as a junior, that’s another thing. The scouts can’t really go in and scout them. They can watch them on film, but the college coaches, you can’t talk to them until they’re clear for the draft and they’re not usually in the bowl games, like the Senior Bowl or the Hula Bowl and stuff like that so your only chance is at the Combine and sometimes that’s a short interview if you don’t get enough time with a player there then maybe you set something up. A lot of the interviews are with players like that, guys that have declared early that you just don’t have as much background or haven’t spent as much time with the player.

Q: It seems like a general perception that teams are trying to trade out of the top of the draft. Is it too early to gauge that, or is that a case of the crop that’s there? The money?
BB: I think money’s a little bit of an issue. You’re paying a lot for those players. If you don’t think the value is there then that might be a reason to try to trade out, but I think this is a draft where there doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut No. 1 player. I’m sure if you, or somebody in the media, which I know they have, contacted teams anonymously about who they’re top players are there would be some discrepancies as to who the No. 1 player is. To me, it’s a little bit like the ’91 Draft when I was in Cleveland and, actually, the Patriots traded out of that to Dallas. Dallas traded up and the first few picks there were, I don’t think there was any consensus on the order of those players and Russell Maryland was a little bit of a surprise choice at No. 1. Again, that was a draft that, as it turned out, there were a lot of players in the second round, the Brett Favres, the Roman Phifers, the Phil Hansens and guys like that than probably had better careers than a lot of guys in the first round of that draft. In fact, there was probably about a third of that first round that I don’t know if they lasted three years in the league. I just think it’s not clear-cut as to whom those players are. If you know so and so is going to be the second or third pick then you’ve got to get to that certain spot to get him then that’s one thing. If there’s a player you like and there’s no real consensus that he’ll be the second or third player picked then maybe he’ll make it to you at five, or eight, or 10, or wherever you’re sitting. When you trade in the first round, you’re really trading for a player. You’re not really trading picks. You’re trading for a specific guy and a lot of times it’s pretty obvious who you’re trading for too. You know it. They know it and so does everybody else who’s watching.

Q: At this point in your career, you’ve got a pretty extensive coaching tree down to the college ranks. Do you reach out to a lot of those guys to maybe get information on players that maybe you can’t get on film?
BB: We try to talk to all the people that we have relationships with. Coaches that you have coached with or even coaches that you haven’t that you have a relationship with through the years. On the other hand, they have relationships with a lot of other coaches, too. It’s not unique. We talk to the people that we know and we do the best research we can on the players and so does everybody else. In the end, those coaches are responsible to help their players. They recruited them. Those guys played for them and they want to help them in any way they can help them whether that’s with the Patriots or one of the other 31 teams and we understand that and we respect that they can’t just work for one team. They have a responsibility to their college and their player that played for them for their college career.

Q: You talked earlier about the money that’s devoted to a top pick. When you’re picking that high, does the balance shift at all to they need to produce sooner because of the money that’s being given to them?
BB: I don’t know. I think every team takes the player that they think is best for their organization. You have to balance a lot of things.

Q: How comfortable are you with working out of where you are and having the No. 7 pick?
BB: Well, we haven’t been at that position for a while. We picked sixth in 2001, but it’s a lot easier looking at the top third of the players in that round than trying to sit back in the late 20s and try to figure out what’s going to be there when you pick. You’re dealing with a lot less players. Between our first and second pick is, whatever it is, 50-something spots. There are going to be a lot of players that if we don’t take them at seven, they’re not going to be there when we pick in the second round. We know a lot of those guys will go by the boards so it’s a pretty big drop off from our first pick to our second pick in terms of the players that we’re evaluating. There are a lot of guys in there that we realistically won’t have a shot at. No different than if you’re picking in the 20s, there are guys in the top 10 or 15 that you’re not going to have a shot at either.

Q: Are you in favor of a rookie salary cap? I know it’s been kind of tossed around a little bit, but is that something that…
BB: Well, there is one. There’s a rookie pool. All I’m saying is that the top slots in the draft, those are big contracts. I mean, the first-rounders are going to make more than the second-rounders and the second-rounders are going to make more than the third-rounders. We all understand that, but those top few picks – JaMarcus Russell’s contract and contracts like that – those are big contracts.

Q: Do you think those should be capped?
BB: Whatever the league and the players agree to, that’s what it’s going to be. It doesn’t make a difference what I think.

Q: With the schedule coming out yesterday, obviously you already knew you had four trips to the West Coast, but given the fact that there are two sets of back-to-back, might there be any consideration of possibly staying out there for one or both of those trips?
BB: Yeah, we’ve talked about that and that’s something we’ll look into. I think that’s certainly a consideration and one’s early, one’s later. We’ll have to see what the options are on that, but that would be a consideration.

Q: We sit here 10 days before the draft. In your mind, are there two or three players you know you’re zeroing in on that you can say right now? By the way, feel free to tell us who they are if you want.
BB: Oh, OK. Well I want to get to that. I want to get to that. Yeah, obviously we’re picking seven so it’s … I think we can narrow it down to a fairly small number of players and if those players, those are the players we’re considering. I’m not going to sit here and tell you we’re thinking about one of 20 guys. We’ve got a handful of guys that we’re considering and maybe they’ll be there. Maybe one of them will be there. We’ll just have to wait and see how that goes and that might affect our strategy at that time when we pick, but yeah, we’ve got it narrowed down to a much smaller target than we had two weeks ago or two months ago.

Q: How much of your strategy is affected by the fact that by having that wide gap between the first and the second pick?
BB: Not much because there’s really … We can’t go too far down from seven and you can’t go too far up from 62 or whatever it is. So how far can you go? We’re not going to go from 62 to 15. There’s a little bit of play there, but I think you really talking about the same group of players.

Q: In your time here, the highest you’ve taken a linebacker is in the fifth round and you’ve talked in the past about evaluating your standards and saying your standards are too high. Have you re-evaluated those standards?
BB: We’ll do what’s best for our football team. That’s what I’ve done since I’ve been here and that’s what we’ll do going forward.

Q: On Brandon Meriweather, you started out using him more at corner and then more so at safety. Does that at all affect your draft strategy going in?
BB: It doesn’t affect our draft strategy, no. Whoever we have on our team, we have. Whoever’s in the draft is in the draft. We’ll take the players that best suit our team from the draft and that’s it. Brandon is a versatile player and I’m sure he’ll have a variety of jobs going forward. How that plays out, we’ll wait and see on that when we get to the spring camps and training camp. But he’s a good player and he’ll help our football team and hopefully we’ll draft somebody that will also be able to help our football team. That’s our goal.

Q: There’s a couple of defensive tackles in the draft and are you considering drafting one who will push Vince Wilfork? [After Wilfork had entered the room]
BB: That’s something we’re looking very closely at. Very closely. [Laughter].

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