There isn't a ton to discuss for Friday's mailbag, at least relative to the last few jam-packed editions, but this one starts off with one of the most fun questions I've received this offseason.
In light of opening day, if the Patriots were a baseball team, who would be in their starting lineup?
–Derek (East Bridgewater, Mass.)
Fun question. Here's the batting order:
Wes Welker, second base: The Patriots' equivalent to Dustin Pedroia.
Patrick Chung, shortstop: Seems like he'd be a feisty hitter in the two-hole.
Jerod Mayo, left field: Leadership, pop in middle of order, athleticism in left.
Rob Gronkowski, first base: Easiest decision ever.
Vince Wilfork, designated hitter: Great athlete, if he connects, get out of the way.
Brandon Spikes, third base: Plenty of potential, and he can mash.
Tom Brady, catcher: Expos' draft pick played the position.
Devin McCourty, right field: Range in right, and speed at the bottom of the order.
Julian Edelman, center field: Swiss Army Knife can do it all.
I'd also use Brian Hoyer and Stephen Gostkowski in the rotation. Hoyer was a great high school pitcher, and Gostkowski pitched at Memphis. Ryan Mallett has the makeup of a great closer with the height and the rocket arm.
The new Nike uniforms didn't live up to the hype, but will the Patriots get some new alternates later?
–Andre (Worcester, Mass.)
Well, I knew they wouldn't amount to anything crazy at the initial unveiling, and any new changes would be subjected to layers of approval by the NFL and the team. However, there's an expectation that Nike will create some new uniform mockups for the teams. It doesn't necessarily mean the teams would approve them, but Nike is in the business of marketing and sales, and the best way for them to make money is by creating new, sellable products. I only had to go to a year and a half of business school to know that.
Anyway, I understood the skepticism from the fans about Nike's uniform unveiling. With the way they've changed their college uniforms — for better and worse – they've developed a reputation as a brand that will make some loud alterations.
So, don't be surprised if something changes with the Patriots' uniforms while Nike holds the rights to the product, but it won't happen without the team's approval.
In the 2011 draft, there were only three cornerbacks taken ahead of Ras-I Dowling. Do the Pats have high expectations for him this year?
–@eganmike, via Twitter
They absolutely have high expectations for Dowling, who was the first pick of last year's second round. There's a lot of responsibility that comes with that high of a pick, and Dowling's rookie year was all but washed out with a hamstring injury that came and went until he was placed on injured reserve.
The one thing I keep coming back to is Dowling was sidelined through the vast majority of training camp, but he started the first two games of the regular season. Obviously, Bill Belichick had seen something he liked in a minimal workload.
One question is Dowling's position in 2012. The night he was drafted, Belichick said the plan was for him to play corner, simply because that's where they've seen him play. But Dowling's size has always yielded speculation that he could move back to safety. (He's listed at 6-foot-1, but I think he's got another inch on that, and 198 pounds.) We'll see if there are any developments in that regard soon enough.
Jeff, I've noticed you have had the Patriots picking a lot of defensive tackles in your mock drafts. Wouldn't it make sense for them to add a pass rusher?
–Bill (Billerica, Mass.)
I know what you're saying, but word on the street is the Patriots are looking to boost their interior presence. Obviously, Vince Wilfork is a phenomenal player who really emerged as a three-down performer last year. And Kyle Love surprised people with his quick development.
However, Belichick doesn't take depth lightly on the offensive or defensive line, and he might want to take a little more weight off Wilfork's shoulders. Since the draft has a lot of interior talent, it makes sense for the Patriots to address the position and add one of the top players available.
And yeah, it would make plenty of sense for the Patriots to add an edge presence, but that would still be a break from their mold. Yet it was also a change when Belichick converted to a 4-3 last season, and it was effective during the few weeks when the Patriots were fully healthy. If they stick with that concept, I can see them targeting edge rushers like Courtney Upshaw, Whitney Mercilus, Nick Perry, Andre Branch or Chandler Jones, depending on who is available.
What do you think of Lavonte David as a fit for the Patriots?
–Ryan (Medford, Mass.)
I like what I see out of the Nebraska linebacker, and I think he'd be a fit as someone who has good coverage skills at that level. However, it looks like he's going to be most effective as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. Therefore, his fit with the Patriots would be very much dependent on Belichick's plan for the defense.
jeff, please check spelling and grammatical usage prior to submitting article. ( Two instead of to )
–Rich (Augusta, Maine)
Thanks for the advice!
Dear Jeff, what song's in heavier rotation on your iPod: "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen or "Friday" by Rebecca Black? Thanks.
–@RandyScottNESN, via Twitter
Good question, captain Lady Antebellum.