ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper is holding a conference call today and the Patriots came up a few times.
Kiper was asked to put himself in the position of the Lions (picks 1, 20, and 33) and Chiefs (picks 3 and 34), assuming they were considering taking quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez in the draft.
Given that, would he take Stafford or Sanchez, or would he rather have Matt Cassel in a trade?
"If I were Detroit or Kansas City, I would make that move in a heartbeat. If you’re asking me if I would rather have Matt Cassel or Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez, I’d rather have Matt Cassel," Kiper answered.
Kiper doubted that Cassel would be available, however, saying he's an insurance policy for Tom Brady.
“He looked like he should have been the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. It’s amazing. To watch him play this year, if he would have been the No. 1 pick in the draft, people would have been very happy with the way he’s playing right now,” Kiper said.
“He came out the same year the other three quarterbacks did [Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers, Jason Campbell] and right now he’s better than those other three – and I’m including [Jay] Cutler in that. I would rather have Cassel than Cutler. So, to me, I think Cassel is more than worthy of being a guy that the Kansas City Chiefs or Detroit Lions go after. He’s played to the level of a No. 1 pick overall this year.”
At one point, Kiper was asked if he sees good value where the Patriots are picking in the first round (23rd selection) when it comes to defensive backs and linebackers.
“Yeah, I think linebacker could be a very good position – the Clay Matthews, the Brian Cushings, Larry English, those type of players would probably be there for New England at that point,” Kiper answered.
“In the secondary, the same thing. There are going to be some guys possibly there at the cornerback spot. Maybe a safety like William Moore [of Missouri]. But more likely a corner will still be there at that point. That could be a D.J. Moore at Vanderbilt, a Sean Smith at Utah – a player like that could still be there.
“I would say, linebacker, it could fall pretty well for New England. The player I had them taking in the projection I made was Brian Cushing of USC.”
Kiper said that Cushing is versatile and could play a lot of different roles in a defense.