Patriots Mailbag: Uncovering Bill Belichick’s Secret Laboratory, Finding the Next Tedy Bruschi

Patriots Mailbag: Uncovering Bill Belichick's Secret Laboratory, Finding the Next Tedy Bruschi The Patriots sent out their pre-draft press release Thursday, a sure sign that one of the calendar’s great events is right around the corner. It’s also why there were a host of draft questions in this week’s mailbag, which focused on trade strategy, the next potential Tedy Bruschi and one of Gillette Stadium’s top secrets.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a question, and if yours wasn’t answered this week, make sure to come on back next week.

The draft pick from Carolina couldn’t have worked out better while most of us figured the Oakland pick would be in the top 10. What is better for Pats, say the No. 10 pick along with a late-40s pick, or what they have? That top-10 pick would look really good but have a feeling No. 33 could either bring first-round type of player or more valuable picks for 2012.
–Rob

As it currently stands, the Patriots would be better off with the 10th pick because there’s some good quality in the top half of the first round. This isn’t last year’s draft, which was loaded with three rounds of really good talent. Of course, if the Patriots trade the 33rd pick, it’s impossible to answer that question right now.

A couple of months ago, I was certain the Patriots would trade the 33rd pick for a 2012 first-rounder, but I’m not convinced that will still be the case now. With teams having so much interest to trade into the bottom of the first round to take a quarterback, I don’t think there will be as much of a rush to acquire No. 33 from New England. Basically, if there’s a run on that second tier of quarterbacks at the end of the first round, the chances will decrease over a bidding war at the top of the second round.

I also believe other teams realize Bill Belichick would covet a future first-rounder, which might make them more inclined to trade with another team at the end of the opening round this month. Rather than letting the Patriots control that trading market for 18 hours between the first and second rounds, it would be easier to acquire one of about a half-dozen picks at the end of the first round.

On the other side of that coin, though, if there’s a run on quarterbacks — the second tier is full of players with mid-second-round value — it will cause some more talented players to slip into the second round. If a team wants to get aggressive to pay a second-round price on a player they tabbed as a first-rounder, it will reopen the trading doors with Belichick.

What do you think is the chance that Bill Belichick will use this draft to select the stud we need on defense, rather than trade down for 47 seventh-round picks and a 2092 third-rounder? I understand he is the leader and has not let us down yet, however, the Patriots need quality. Depending on Logan Mankins’ situation, we are one or two pieces from being unstoppable. Curious about your thoughts.
–Bruce

What are the chance of the Pats investing some of their many third- and fourth-round picks to move and grab one or more of the truly special guys in this draft like Mark Ingram, J.J. Watt, Tyron Smith, Cameron Jordan, Prince Amukamara, etc.? For example, their Nos. 17 and 74 picks would move them up to No. 14 to grab Ingram away from Miami. Their Nos. 28 and 33 would move them up to No. 10 where they could be assured of getting Jordan or Smith. That would be a killer draft in itself, and they’d still have a second- and third-rounder, in addition to their fifth- and sixth-rounders to find an outside linebacker and wide receiver.
–Uncle Alfie

The Patriots definitely have the opportunity to be non-traditionally aggressive in this draft, and I think they should strongly consider taking that approach. There’s no doubt in my mind they can get three good players if they stand pat at Nos. 17, 28 and 33, but if it comes down to trading up or trading back, I think they’d be better off trading up. Obviously, Belichick trades with the future in mind, and if he can acquire some first- or second-round assets in a 2012 draft that should be stronger than this one, that would be a good route, too.

The Patriots have made 12 picks in each of the last two drafts, and while a vast majority of those picks have worked out very well, they don’t have enough room on the roster to bring in another big haul this season. This year more than most, they’d be better served adding quality (trading up), staying in place or adding quality picks in the 2012 draft over trading back to add quantity.

Can you give us an update or news on how Tom Brady is coming along since his foot surgery? Thank you!
–Shirl

Brady has been spotted working out in California without the walking boot, so that’s a good sign that he is on pace to be ready for camp. You know, whenever that happens.

Will the Patriots draft Mark Ingram if he is available with the first-round pick?
–Steve Achber

Ingram’s stock is dropping over concerns about the health of his knees, which caused him to miss some time in 2010 and might be a long-term issue. A week ago, I would have said the Patriots should take a good, hard look at Ingram if he was still around at No. 17, but I’m not so sure about that anymore. And for more on how Ingram could fit in New England, check out what I wrote this week.

Bottom line, I think Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure would be a better fit for the Patriots if they can get him in the second round. I’ve believed this for a few weeks, and the Boston Herald reported Thursday that Leshoure was working out in New England.

Jeff, what are your thoughts on Brooks Reed? How would you feel about the Patriots picking him at 28 or 33? He could become the next Tedy Bruschi (from the same school). Bruschi took a few years to become the player he did and was a pass-rushing animal in college not unlike Reed. Your thoughts? Keep up the good work and am looking forward to your thoughts after the draft.
–Mike

Thank you, Mike, but I wouldn’t throw around Bruschi’s name that freely. I understand the comparison, but Bruschi became one of the franchise’s all-time greats with a top-notch work ethic, elite knowledge of the game and tremendous leadership. It’s extremely difficult to measure a draft prospect’s intangibles — or at least project them over the course of a potential 10-year career — and that’s why I wouldn’t even think of comparing Reed to Bruschi.

That said, Reed is an intriguing player who will be making the move to 3-4 outside linebacker, and like you said, will need some time to develop. Reed could sneak into the first round, but he’d probably be best in the mid-to-late second round. If the Patriots don’t land Akeem Ayers or Justin Houston in the first round, Reed could certainly be an option.

Given the way Tom Brady and the rest of the team play, I’m curious, where does Dr. Bill “Frankenstein” Belichick keep his secret lab where he builds and programs these obviously non-human football players? They are just too damn good to be human.
–Lisa Summerlin

Inside the lighthouse on the north end of Gillette Stadium.

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