The New England Patriots have been quiet in free agency after a flurry of activity over the weekend.
It would be logical for the Patriots to add depth at defensive tackle, defensive end, tight end and the offensive line in free agency. They likely are waiting for the market to settle so they can grab some cheap veterans, however.
The Patriots also need to resolve Vince Wilfork’s contract situation before they continue to spend. They’re low on salary-cap space.
This week’s mailbag touches on free agency, the NFL draft, trades and depth charts. Check out how the Patriots are shaping up for the 2014 season.
Who will the Patriots take in the first round of the NFL draft?
My latest mock draft has the Patriots taking Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Tight end, defensive end and defensive tackle make the most sense for the Patriots at the end of the first round.
If the Patriots want a tight end, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Troy Niklas should be available at No. 29 overall. Seferian-Jenkins and Niklas could be drafted in a trade-down scenario, as well.
Defensive tackles Jernigan, Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix, Ra’Shede Hageman, Dominique Easley and Kelcy Quarles could be available in the late-first-round/early-second-round area. If the Patriots are looking for a pass rusher, Dee Ford, Scott Crichton, Trent Murphy and Kareem Martin are projected as late first-rounders or early second-rounders.
Because so many players at positions of need are in that range, it’s increasingly possible the Patriots trade down for the second straight year.
If the season started today and you were a Patriots coach, what is your starting offense and defense?
Offense: QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, WR Julian Edelman, slot WR Danny Amendola, WR Brandon LaFell, TE Rob Gronkowski, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankings, C Dan Connolly, RG Marcus Cannon, RT Sebastian Vollmer
Defense: DE Chandler Jones, NT Vince Wilfork, DE/DT Tommy Kelly, OLB/DE Rob Ninkovich, ILB/WLB Jerod Mayo, ILB/MLB Dont’a Hightower, OLB/SLB Jamie Collins, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Alfonzo Dennard, FS Devin McCourty, SS Duron Harmon
Nickel Defense: DE Rob Ninkovich, DT Chandler Jones, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Jamie Collins, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont’a Hightower, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Alfonzo Dennard, CB Logan Ryan, FS Devin McCourty, SS Duron Harmon
Collins should be a defensive end on third down with the Patriots’ current personnel. He’s great in coverage, but his upside is even higher as a Von Miller-esque pass rusher.
The Patriots have so many great cornerbacks that they could swap Ryan for Harmon in the base defense or Kyle Arrington for Harmon in nickel.
Are the Patriots going to trade for DeSean Jackson?
It is extremely unlikely.
Is Adrian Wilson giving up his No. 24?
After giving up a year’s supply of diapers to Arrington for the number last season? Unlikely. Revis might really have to pay up to get No. 24 from the 13-year veteran.
Are the Patriots making a move for a defensive end anytime soon?
The cupboard is clearing out of free-agent defensive ends, but it’s still possible the Patriots add a veteran like Will Smith. It’s possible the Patriots have high hopes for second-year defensive end Michael Buchanan as a rotational player.
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