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#PostPulpit Mailbag: Who are the building blocks on New England’s roster?

This week’s Patriots mailbag answers questions about New England’s future, QB’s in the draft, and more.

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The New England Patriots are off to their bye week after 10 games of football. We, however, are not taking a bye here so let’s get right into this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag.

This roster is terrible. Who would you say are the building blocks moving forward - Pat B.

While a 2-8 team never looks good, New England does have some younger players on the roster than can provide a beacon of hope.

We’ll start on defense as the Patriots should continue to be a well-built unit on that side of the ball next year. Rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez looked the part in his 3.5 games of action and should return with no issues next season. Jabrill Peppers also remains under contract in the secondary after putting together a strong 10-game campaign to start this season.

Moving down the defense, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai will remain with the team at the second level. The hope here is Marte Mapu also gets his shot here, but it may take a new coaching regime for that to unfold (more later).

Then on the line of scrimmage, Christian Barmore has been New England’s best player this season and has set himself up to be a prime extension candidate. Matthew Judon is still under contract while Keion White will enter year two, but New England could look to add another pass rusher - whether it’s retaining Josh Uche or looking in free agency.

With the defense is set to have contributors return at all three levels, the offense isn’t as promising. But, there are still some players that have/continue to show promise.

Rookie Demario Douglas has carried a strong summer into the regular season, leading all of New England’s receivers with 2.1 yards per route run. Unfortunately, Pop is the only player in the receiving room that this team can certainly count on next season.

Elsewhere on offense, Rhamondre Stevenson continues to be a strong back as he enters a contract year. Sidy Sow has shown some promise as a fourth-round guard and the team will hopefully resign Michael Onwenu to continue to play next to him at tackle.

And last but not least, Bryce Baringer has been awesome. Brenden Schooler, too.

@Spiceylife212 Will BB come out of the bye week unemployed?

No. As soon as Monday came and went, any questions of Bill Belichick’s job status this year should have been out of the window. They are not making an in-season change and in my opinion should not have. He’s the greatest coach of all time and a pillar of this organization. Firing him in-season could lead to a messy departure for someone you hope to eventually have back and celebrate.

What’s one under the radar thing you’d like to see changed after the bye? - Mark

There’s a lot that needs correcting, Mark. But, one thing I’ve been banging the table for all year is to see Marte Mapu play at the second level.

The third-round pick shined throughout OTAs and had a strong training camp as New England moved him all around the defense. Yet Mapu has played more deep safety of late despite him playing 87 percent of his collegiate snaps as a box safety. The rehearsal back deep hasn’t gone well either, as Mapu split blame on Tyreek Hill’s 42-yard score in Week 8 and was bailed out by Jabrill Peppers after getting beaten deep once against Washington.

If this was the plan when they selected Mapu - it was a bad pick. If they are going to let him get back to what he did well, he will be fun to watch with his sideline-to-sideline speed and athleticism (and could actually help them finally stop a screen pass). However, after defensive coaches Brian Belichick and Jerod Mayo noting his safety trial run likely won’t end soon, im not banking on seeing him much more down the stretch.

@TomeTrosanina Is rostering a full back considered to be apart of a “modern” offense? If so, why don’t the patriots have one rostered? #postpulpit

San Francisco has one. As do Miami, Baltimore, and a handful of other teams. While many of those teams are coached by the Shanahan tree, a fullback would absolutely still fit in an offense like New England’s. In fact, I believe they’ve missed the position at times this year when the run game was struggling to get going downhill.

@sBardarson Do you think the lack of a true blocking tight end is affecting the O-line and run game?

It certainly hasn’t helped (like the lack of fullback). Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki are not blockers. Pharaoh Brown has been a pleasant addition due to his work as a blocker and a receiver. Where this has hurt them the most, however, is when they run their 12-personnel packages. Teams are often just matching them in nickel as they aren’t afraid of Henry or Gesicki in the run game, which then fails to create a mismatch in the passing game.

@Jermfree23 Whats an best case scenario first 3-4 rounds in this upcoming draft for us?

Offense, offense, offense. Then more offense.

Almost all of New England’s top assets in the draft (and free agency) should be poured into the offensive side of the ball. While they may not be able to check every box in one offseason, a new quarterback, offensive tackle, and wide receiver are definitely the top positions of need.

As for the draft, my feeling is do everything in your power to walk away with either Drake Maye or Caleb Williams. Whether that means ending up with a top-two pick or trading up to do so, I am getting my quarterback then figuring out everything else afterwards.

@BostonEvan11 How do you rate the draft QBs?

So, let’s talk about those QBs. Obviously a lot will change between now and April, but this is my brief and early feel on the class.

Drake Maye has long been my QB1 and and he now seems to be seriously threatening Caleb Williams for the top consensus spot. While Williams has shown some flaws this season, I would still run up the card at pick No. 2 if Maye is off the board. Both guys have extremely high ceilings as franchise QBs.

After the top two, I’m hesitant on taking any other quarterback in the top 10. But if you’re looking in the later half of the first round or early in Round 2, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., LSU’s Jayden Daniels, and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy fit the bill in that second tier. McCarthy is a bit of a wild card, while Daniels has impressed as a runner and in the pocket this season. Penix Jr. has one of the best arms in the class, but a shaky medical history with two torn ACLs.

Oregon’s Bo Nix then likely falls in the next tier as a potential high-floor starter. One other name that’s jumped up my radar lately has also been Georgia’s Carson Beck. The assumption also is that Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders returns to school.

@a14hayes when will it end

If we’d like to quote Batman: “The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.”

But seriously, while this sucks they could turn this thing around very quickly. A top-5 pick and tons of cap space is on the horizon this offseason. Add the right players to the building blocks we discussed earlier and you’re back on track.

@zttack317 So.... how bout them Boston Celtics?

Looking pretty, pretty good there Zach. As well as those Boston Bruins. Surely this won’t end with heartbreak.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit. Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well.