2014 NFL Draft: Pipe Dreams and the Marshall Plan

Brady Dobson

Could Aaron Dobson get a new receiving partner? (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Staff Writer: Ken Vetrano

It’s that time of year again folks, pipe dream season. The only thing more abundant than flowers blossoming outside, are the absurd trade scenarios budding around the NFL. Whether a team whiffed during free agency, or simply doesn’t believe the upgrade they want is available via the draft, coaching staffs are still trying to find their roster’s missing piece.

This causes certain teams to reach for the stars, and names that normally wouldn’t be bounced around start to echo in league circles. Usually nothing comes from this other than speculation and fan disappointment. However, what if Bill Belichick decided to pick up the phone, dial Bears GM Phil Emery and inquire about the big dipper?

The AFC has become an arms race between Denver and New England. If the Patriots could somehow trade for Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, that would be like giving America the Millennium Falcon during the battle of the midway. Marshall is a bonafide number one wide receiver. Something Brady has been missing over the past couple seasons. Now I know the conventional argument against this type of move is that New England’s offense has been more than efficient without a player of Marshall’s ilk, so why waste draft capital on such an expensive purchase?

Well, Rob Gronkowski has not shown the ability to stay healthy. Doesn’t really matter how dominant he is on the field, if he can’t actually stay on the field. And when you look at Gronk’s history, there’s nothing to indicate he’ll be able to stay healthy all year long, let alone when it matters most.

Outside of Gronk you have a solid cast of #2 and #3 receivers that can compliment an offense. Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins had good rookie campaigns between them, and should improve heading into next season. The operative word here is “should”. I’m a card carrying member of the Josh Boyce fan club, but how much can he contribute after falling behind so much due to injuries? Brady might not necessarily need talent around him to win a championship, but why not give him that luxury?

As it constitutes right now, for my money, Chicago has the best receiving tandem in all of football. Alshon Jeffery is everything scouts thought he would be following his sophomore year at South Carolina. Pairing him up with Marshall has given the Bears a potent combo that will have opposing defensive backs losing sleep for years to come.

Here’s the thing though, it’s going to be mighty difficult to lock both of these players up long term, impossible no, but very tough. Marshall is a free agent after 2014, while Jeffery can’t negotiate a new contract until after his third season. The Bears priority will be to lock up the younger receiver long term. Marshall has said he doesn’t need to break the bank with an extension, but what a player says before sitting down at the negotiating table usually holds little water.

If I’m the Bears, trading Marshall should strongly be considered. The last thing they need to do is tie up cap space at one position with so much of their roster in flux. If Percy Harvin was dealt for a 1st rounder and some change, then Brandon Marshall, who’s a superior receiver, should command more. That will be a steep price for anyone trying to pry Marshall away, but for a team like New England, that price might be worth it. Brady to Marshall has the potential to be even more prolific than Brady to Moss.

However, like so many other names that have been tossed around coming to One Patriot Place, it’s past indiscretions that will ultimately put the kibosh on it ever happening. Although Marshall has made great strides over the last couple years taking control of his life, and has become a strong veteran presence in the Bears locker room, red flags from earlier in his career would probably curb New England’s interest.

The Patriots will most likely draft a receiver again this year, mainly because the talent pool is so deep. Players who would typically be given a 1st or 2nd round grade any other year might still be on the board going into day three.

A comparable to Marshall in this draft is Kelvin Benjamin. He has a similar frame to Marshall, and knows how to take advantage of it. During his sophomore year he slowly began to master the art of body control, and gaining position on your defender. Although Benjamin is raw, and probably would have benefited from another year at Florida State, that doesn’t mean Josh McDaniels wouldn’t be able to find a spot for him early on in New England’s red zone offense. Not to mention he’s a realistic option at #29.

Trades like Brandon Marshall to the Patriots are always entertaining to talk about before the draft. And with Belichick you never know, just when you think he zigs, he zags. Like the rest of us Bill has his telescope out, except while we’re all gazing up at the Fitzgerald and Marshall constellations, he’s looking down at Dobson’s ankle.

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16 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft: Pipe Dreams and the Marshall Plan”

  1. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriot Predictions

    1 Trade for 2,3 and 6th round picks.
    2 Allen Robinson WR Penn State
    2 Trade for 3 and 4th round picks.
    3 Kareem Martin DE UNC
    3 Ka’Deem Carey RB Arizona
    3 David Yankey G Stanford
    4 Crockett Gilmore TE Colorado State
    4 Justin Ellis NT Louisiana Tech
    4 Brock Vereen S Minnesota
    5 Jared Abbedderis WR Wisconsin
    6 Wesley Johnson C Vanderbilt
    6 Brock Coyle LB Montana
    6 Trade for 5th round pick.
    7 Trade for 5th round pick.

  2. steve earle says:

    Marshall is a great thought but as a premium player Chicago would want a premium price which could effect our ability to fill our many needs going forward. I think description “pipe dreams” best describes the idea and it should remain so.

  3. Matt says:

    O.K I have to know what is the big deal about Easley? Two torn ACL’s and has had off the field problems. Why should the Pats draft him?

  4. Dylan.C says:

    It would be great if the Pats were able to pick Dustin Keller on a cheap one year deal assuming his psychical went well during his visit to Foxborough today like reports indicate. I would much rather the Pats sign Keller than be forced to reach on an unproven TE in a draft that is considered very weak at the TE position.

    He could fill in for Gronk until he comes back and then would complement him well in the move tight end role even if he is only 75% of the player he was pre-injury.

    • steve earle says:

      Keller would be okay to try if on the cheep but as for TE in the draft I see 5 prospects in the first 3 rds I like then 3 more later with a couple red flag late possibles so it’s not a complete drought. In my mock I have ASJ with a high 2nd and on my board Niklas and Amaro behind him. One of these three could fill the spot for a few years imo.

  5. Jim R says:

    On board with Benji at 29 and a TE in the (CJF) 2nd round. I want Tom to have some toys. You can still get in the 3rd and 4th rounds quality D players. Aaron Lynch DE, Jordan Tripp LB, Cauron Reid DT. There are quality OL and safety/Corners to get in Rounds 6-7 to get Dez Southward S James Stone C and Matt Patchin G/T.
    Just the way I would do it.
    You would have a pretty good red zone Offense. Gronk 6-7 CJF 6-6 Benji 6-5 and Dobson 6-3 and ley edeleman/amendola zip thru the trees

  6. Kevan says:

    It would be absurd to trade for Brandon Marshall totally against it.

  7. Rob says:

    Amandola,Edelman,Slater,Lafell,Boyce,Dobson,Tompkins,an Harrison. Thats 8 WR’s on the roster who gets cut right now nevermind if we draft or trade for one. They will only carry 6 max. Any thoughts on what we could get for Amandola in a trade draft pick wise?

  8. Mike says:

    Not gonna happen. Marshall is a team leader on the Bears and is arguably the second best wideout in the league behind Megatron. What would we have to give up? This years first plus next years first? Honestly, it’s too much for the Pats to give up given our needs, and I doubt the Bears would accept 2 first round picks considering Marshall’s value to the team. Comparing him to Harvin is garbage, Harvin is injury prone, a team headache, and frankly not that great

  9. George Raab says:

    Brady to Marshall has the potential to be even more prolific than Brady to Moss. Moss was a Diva and had issues but, that was a hell of an offense to watch! Definitely a pipe dream, just too much talent available in the draft. (cheap labor)

  10. GrizzlyBlue says:

    I can see why you call this a “pipe dream”. No way the Bears split up the best WR pairing in the league.

  11. Joe Blake says:

    The Pat’s have so many needs, its difficult to rank the positions of most need. My guess is, TE, DT and RB in that draft round order. Sure they have needs at WR, O-line, SS and OLB, but its unlikely these later round position picks will produce a consistent playmaker. I’m hopeful they will finish the season at 12-4, but its going to be a watershed year for them in my view…

    • Victor Kiams ghost says:

      I respectfully disagree with you for I believe they are drafting for depth. Draft priorities for the Pats in my opinion should be DE only two of the four on the roster have any playing time, TE, LB both flavors, C/G, SS, RB. Another WR would be a luxury, after the top five WR it looks like there are plenty of JAGs (just another guy). There are currently six DT on the roster if I’m not mistaken Wilfork, Kelly, Chris Jones, Armstead, Siliga, and Vellano.

      • Matt says:

        Your right about the six DT’s Kelly and Wilfolk are getting old and Armstead, Siliga and Vellano stink. They need a DT , DE TE and S . Then they could use a guard and inside linebacker.

        • Kevan says:

          We don’t know for sure if armstead is gonna be good because he didn’t play due to an infection. But a lot of teams liked him coming out of USC and was considered a 2 round talent. Chris jones had 6 sacks as an un drafted guy along with vellano who played scrappy all year. Selinga was stout and showed a lot of promise. All these players could potentially contribute and become better players learning from Wilfork and Kelley. Marcus forston is still on the team as well. Personally I’m gonna use my draft capital else where unless a player falls that’s too good to pass up. Maybe a guy like Easley because theoretically he could play end on 1st and 2nd downs which would have ninko or jones fresh for 3rd. I think the pats are gonna take the player they feel is best regardless of position. I think de, te, lb, ss, QB, Rb, and interior oline are bigger needs at this point though.

        • steve earle says:

          I think you’r being a little harsh on Siliga and Vellano. No they are not starting quality DT’s but decent back up depth and affordable. After a years experance I’ll be interested in seeing how much they may have progressed during the off season.

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