After analyzing the draft needs of all 32 teams, PFT will review how well each team addressed those needs. Up next: The New England Patriots.
What they needed: Wide receiver, defensive line, cornerback, safety.
What they got:
Round 2: Jamie Collins, DE/OLB, Southern Miss; Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
Round 3: Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers; Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers
Round 4: Josh Boyce, WR, TCU
Round 7: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois; Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers
Where they hit: Trading out of the first round netted the Patriots picks in the second, third, fourth and seventh rounds which was a nice haul for a team that came into the draft with just five picks. Collins had 10 sacks last season and could fit at a variety of spots for a Patriots defense that likes versatility and Buchanan showed some flashes in college that were worth a seventh-round shot. Ryan provides good depth for a secondary that needs it while Beauharnais was projected to go much earlier in the draft. Dobson and Boyce both profile as receivers who can threaten defenses deep, which is something the Patriots offense needs.
Where they missed: There were picks with higher floors than Dobson in the second round, although the Patriots certainly have a strong enough team to focus on the ceiling. Neither he nor Boyce is a sure bet to add much immediate help to the offense, although doubling down on players with similar skill sets raises the likelihood that the Patriots will get some help in 2013. Harmon was the opposite of Beauharnais, a player expected to be drafted much later than the third round if he was drafted at all, but the Patriots tend to be good for at least one pick like that every year.
Impact rookies: We have no idea what the Patriots have planned for Collins at this point, but his ability to play a variety of roles means he’ll be able to carve out a niche if he impresses the coaching staff. Dobson and Boyce will certainly get chances to prove that they should be playing on the outside of the offense and Ryan should be in the mix for snaps in sub packages at cornerback.
Long-term prospects: Given the dearth of other options with their skill sets at receiver, both Dobson and Boyce can become fixtures in the lineup if they click with Tom Brady. That would add a dimension that’s been missing from an excellent Patriots offense and would presumably make them an even harder team to stop, which is a pretty scary thought. There’s a lot of room for growth in this draft class and if enough of them hit, the Patriots’ remarkable run under Brady and Bill Belichick will be well positioned to keep running through a second decade.