Patriots Mailbag: Assessing Eric Rowe’s Upside After Full Offseason

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Let’s be honest: There’s not a whole lot going on with the Patriots now that the NFL Annual Meeting is over. So, let’s not procrastinate and instead just get straight into this week’s mailbag.

@DougKyed Are you doing a #MailDoug tomorrow, asking for a friend? #MailDoug
— @MichaelProOG
Ooh, starting it out with a mailbag question about a mailbag. This is some inception stuff.

To answer the question: I’m doing a mailbag today, because you’re reading this right now, Michael.

@DougKyed with upgrade/speed at WR what will Pats do to improve offense line ? Draft ? Free agent ? Trade? Center needs? Younger at tackle?
— @Dougd56979686
While I don’t believe there was a major issue with the Patriots’ offensive line in 2016, I think they will continue to improve organically over the offseason. Joe Thuney and David Andrews will continue to get stronger in NFL weight programs, and Shaq Mason will improve as he becomes more and more comfortable with a pro-style offense. I thought Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon both were solid in 2016. I wouldn’t be shocked if Solder received a contract extension at some point. You don’t want to be caught without a left tackle.

Thuney and Andrews were the weak (in both senses of the word) spots on the Patriots’ offensive line in 2016, if you had to pick them. Thuney brings more upside, and while I think the Patriots really like Andrews, center does seem like a starting position that could possibly be upgraded at some point.

I also think the Patriots should draft a developmental offensive tackle to play behind Solder and Cannon.

If Thuney, Andrews and Mason make expected improvements, I think this unit will be extremely solid in 2017 and possibly among the best in the NFL.

what is the plan for ILB next to Hightower? McClellin and Roberts both got benched in SB and van noy isn’t much better
— @ChefdDds89
For now, it’s for Shea McClellin, Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy to compete for the starting job next to Dont’a Hightower. I think the Patriots want Roberts to take it, but I’m not sure if you can trust him on third down in coverage. It’s possible the three players share it, too, with McClellin playing in three-linebacker sets, Roberts on early downs and Van Noy on passing downs.

The Patriots should look to draft a linebacker, but since they traded away their top picks, there’s only so many slots left to grab a starting-caliber player.

I selected Alex Anzalone in my most recent Patriots mock draft, so Bill Belichick should do that to make me look really smart and prescient.

@DougKyed CB talk has been Gilmore/Butler, but how do you think Rowe will do after a full offseason in NE? #maildoug #AGlumIDo #anagramfun
— @TeamCrazyMatt
Man, you’re right Matt. Anagrams are fun. Do you know what an anagram for Team Crazy Matt is? Crazy Team Matt. Also Czar Meaty Matt.

To answer your question, Czar At Tat Me My, I believe Eric Rowe will improve greatly after a full season and offseason with the Patriots. I think he got a bit lucky at times in 2016, and he was flagged too much, but I think he showed a lot of potential and actually finished the regular season with better coverage stats than Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan.

He was at his best when his role was simplified and he played on the right side of the field. I think he should be able to take on more responsibility after a full training camp in New England. He should pair very well with Stephon Gilmore if Malcolm Butler is traded, and he would be one of the NFL’s better No. 3 cornerbacks if Butler sticks around.

Thoughts on time changes?
— @mitchellbarman
I like the spring daylight savings, and I hate the fall one. We should just stick with the spring one, because I’m not a morning person and am rarely awake early enough to complain that it’s not light out, and my opinions are more important to me than anyone else’s.

I really enjoy it being light out later.

I meant rule changes but go ahead an answer both
— @mitchellbarman
Oh, well don’t I feel like a dummy for answering a question you didn’t even mean to ask?

I think they’re fine. For more of my thoughts, watch this week’s “Between The Tackles.” What a plug, right?

@DougKyed Who would you say is the ultimate preseason Patriots roster member of the last decade? I?d go with Herana-Daze Jones. #MailDoug
— @OliverBThomas
I’ve had a lot of time to think about this by now and haven’t come up with a great answer.

I think it has to be someone who didn’t make the actual roster, so guys like Rufus Johnson, Zach Sudfeld, Brian Tyms and Kenbrell Thompkins should be excluded.

Quentin Sims is a good one. Cre’Von LeBlanc is a great recent option. Maybe throw Darnell Jenkins into the mix too?

Guys who won’t be on that list: Tim Tebow, Ryan Mallett, Logan Stokes and Derrick Johnson.

Let’s go rapid fire.

@DougKyed ok, so with the popularity of Doug’s Buds/Bugs, ever thought of doin an eating contest?? #MailDoug
— @FromDa401
I actually do eat really fast, but I’m not looking to get an eating contest bod.

If I had to do an eating contest, I can put down desserts pretty fast. I’d probably do well in a pie- or cake-eating contest.

@DougKyed dominos or papa Ginos tonight?
— @kardashian04
You came to the right person — the Pizza King — for advice.

Here’s what you do: Order Domino’s with a side of garlic sauce. Then you get the better pizza with the best perk of Papa John’s.

Not a fan of Papa Gino’s unless you’re getting a buffalo chicken pizza, which is barely pizza and kind of just a different dish altogether.

#MailDoug From a reporter’s perspective, is it better if the Patriots go deep in the playoffs, or don’t make them at all?
— @MrQuindazzi
It’s definitely better to go deep in the playoffs. I felt like a lazy, worthless person when the Patriots’ playoff run ended before the Super Bowl in 2013 and 2015. I don’t take serious time off until late June, so I actually prefer it stays pretty busy during the offseason. And the offseason gets delayed if the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl week also is really fun for reporters. You get to hang with your buds in a warm place for a week, and you get paid for it. And there’s fun, free stuff to do all week.

@DougKyed given the popularity of Pats throwback colors and gear, do you see them ever doing a modern version of the Pat Patriot/red unis?
— @Hoyarrow81
It is my prediction that the Patriots will go back to red uniforms after the Brady/Belichick era is finished.

@DougKyed what was the first game you covered as a beat reporter?
— @ArthurHermsdorf
As an official beat reporter? A 2013 preseason game.

But I also covered the 2012 divisional-round playoff game against the Houston Texans and the 2012 AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens for NESN.com before I officially joined the beat.

@DougKyed Over/under on Brady’s next haircut being a youth crew style bleach blonde high and tight?
— @ColinPoulton
I’ll be mad, because I intend on having that hairstyle this summer.

@DougKyed Chance Pats go into draft without a 1st/2nd, over/under 50%? Prefer they keep Butler but have feeling the trade for #32/etc is inevitable.
— @ajkjules
Under.

@DougKyed Wanted to change subjects, so…Final Four question: How South Carolina went unnoticed ALL SEASON LONG? That D is absurd #maildoug
— @ovelevy
I’m guessing no one actually watched college basketball until March, because I never watch college basketball until March, and I’m not really convinced anyone does.

@DougKyed what is your bold prediction for this upcoming Patriots season? #MailDoug
— @JakeTurano
I’m going to predict Tom Brady will throw for over 300 yards in a single game. Take it to the bank.

@DougKyed Grape or strawberry jelly? #MailDoug
— @salvaje50
I’m on Team Feitelberg on this one. I like fancy preserves. Give me a raspberry or blackberry preserve over grape or strawberry jelly. If I had to pick, though, I’d go grape over strawberry.

What worries you most about the pats roster right now
— @mitchellbarman
That they’re actually too talented, just like the 2007 team, and that they’ll go undefeated in the regular season just to lose in the playoffs.

Nope. Wait. That’s just what someone tweeted at me after the Patriots traded for Brandin Cooks.

do you have an update on Hightower yet?
— @mstanoisNFL
Looks like he’s in Tennessee based on his Instagram. WHAT COULD IT MEAN?

who ya got for B-ball NCAA champion?
— @JJGSoldier
Duke. Says so on my bracket and everything.

How’s life? #MailDoug
— @ChaseDawg2
Life’s good, ChaseDawg2. Thanks for asking.

@DougKyed What product(s) do you use for your hair? I’m a suavecito pomeade guy. (Can’t think of any good Pats Q’s) #MailDoug
–@StephenPorier
Bona Fide Matte Paste.

Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images

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