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Words With Frenz mailbag: NFL draft preview and re-setting the wide receiver position

Posted by Erik Frenz  April 5, 2013 07:30 AM

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Friday means it's time for another mailbag.

We look ahead to the NFL draft, and we continue to look long and hard at the wide receiver position for the 2013 season.

Let's get right to the questions!

Casey, Edelman visited with the Giants this week according to Mike Garafolo of USA Today, and although the visit went well, Edelman is still thinking things over.

Judging by the fact that there's one other team involved, it would seem the chances are 50-50 he'll return. In reality, we don't know how Edelman or either of the teams involved feels about the situation, so it's futile to guess the odds.

I will say this: Edelman was set to become a bigger part of the Patriots game plan in the beginning of the season when it seemed Wes Welker was being phased out. That would indicate the Patriots think Edelman can be a key player in the offense.

Similar to Danny Amendola, Edelman can line up both inside and outside. If the Patriots draft a receiver, Edelman will likely once again be the third receiver on the depth chart. If they do not, we could be looking at a four-man group of Edelman, Amendola, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Margus Hunt made a big impact for SMU in his senior year, logging 11.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and forcing two fumbles.

He followed that up with a stellar performance at the combine, and put up a whopping 38 reps on the bench press and ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at the combine for the third-fastest time among all defensive ends.

He has the long build a lot of coaches and scouts love, at 6'8" with 33.25" long arms. At 277 pounds, he could stand to even add a little bulk to his frame.

What Hunt has in athleticism and size, he lacks in versatility; he was strictly a defensive end for SMU, and would likely be used primarily with his hand in the dirt in the NFL. The question is whether he projects better in a 3-4 or a 4-3 front. Most would agree he is a more suitable 4-3 defensive end, as he lacks the girth of a three- or five-technique defensive end.

Damian, the market for Lloyd has been bare so far, but that doesn't mean nothing will come up. It's hard to predict whether a last-minute suitor could come into play (see Edelman above). Who else wants Lloyd? Who knows, but it's been nearly a month since he and the Patriots parted ways, and there have been no reports of developing contract negotiations.

The Patriots have almost completely turned over the wide receiver position from last season. Unless Edelman returns, the only receivers that remain on the roster from last year are Matthew Slater, Jeremy Ebert and Kamar Aiken, all of whom combined for zero receptions in 2012.

Comparing the groups, one thing in particular stands out: while this group doesn't have vast experience in the Patriots offense, they do have the size the Patriots have lacked. Amendola is bigger than Welker; Donald Jones is bigger than Brandon Lloyd; Michael Jenkins is bigger than anyone the Patriots had on the roster at receiver last year.

There are questions with each. For Amendola, it's his ability to stay healthy. For Jones, it's the undisclosed medical condition which ended his season in 2012. For Jenkins, it's how much life is left in those "Molasses Mike" legs.

With all those questions and not as many sure answers, it's easy to see why I mocked multiple receivers to the Patriots.

Geno Smith's draft stock has become the topic of much discussion because of a piece written by ProFootballWeekly's Nolan Nawrocki. Smith's leadership, mental toughness and football intelligence were all called into question, and he was even called a "gimmick" at one point.

Character assassination aside, he looks like a first-round pick on the field. He does have some issues with accuracy at times, but he is a versatile quarterback. He can throw rhythm passes in a West Coast style offense, he has the arm to make vertical throws, and of course, he has the athleticism to extend plays with his legs, but he's also great reading a defense from the pocket.

I'm not going to pretend to know the first thing about his character, though, and that's ultimately what will be the biggest determining factor in whether he's a first-round pick. The talent is there on tape. If he has his head on straight — and everyone besides Nawrocki seems to think he does — there's no reason he shouldn't be taken in the first round.

Thanks for the questions! Further queries can be directed to me on Twitter.


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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »

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