Team needs: New England Patriots

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With just five picks currently in hand, the Patriots don’t enter this year’s draft with a lot of ammunition. It’s a good thing, then, that the defending AFC East champions don’t have a whole lot of holes that need filling. As in most other years over the last decade, those holes are more than balanced out by the presence of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick but we’ve come up with a take on the spots where the Patriots could use some help all the same. 

Wide Receiver: It’s been a busy offseason at wide receiver in New England. Danny Amendola has arrived while Wes Welker shuffled off to join Peyton Manning in Denver and Brandon Lloyd was cut after one middling season with the team. They have re-signed Julian Edelman and added Donald Jones and Jenkins as well, but the Patriots still have space for a receiver who can threaten teams on the outside.

Not only would such a receiver make a nice target for Brady, they’d also ideally open up space for tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to operate. That assumes that pair is healthy and the need for another target only increases if either or both the tight ends are limited in the coming season. Robert Woods of USC, Justin Hunter of Tennessee and Keenan Allen of California could all be possibilities in the first two rounds and all fit the profile of what the Patriots would seem to be looking for at the position.

Defensive Line: They picked Chandler Jones in the first round last year and it was a promising debut for the Syracuse product. The team could use more punch in the pass rush, however. There are free agents like John Abraham and Dwight Freeney still on the market that could help or the Patriots may look to the early rounds of the draft as a way to add it to the roster. If they were to opt for the draft, Estonian native Margus Hunt of SMU is an intriguing prospect at defensive end.

Vince Wilfork remains an effective plug in the middle of the line, but he won’t play forever so the Patriots could also look for a defensive tackle to help now and take over for Wilfork later. The right guy would be able to provide interior push against quarterbacks, which might be difficult to find from their draft spot. If a player like Sylvester Williams of North Carolina were to fall down the board, he should be a possibility at the end of the first round.

Cornerback: Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington are sticking around while Alfonzo Dennard won’t miss any time after receiving a sentence that will keep him out of jail until next March, so this isn’t the acute need it would be if any of those three were going to be unavailable. There’s room for improvement, though, and the Patriots will likely be adding at least one corner to the mix during the draft. If they want to do it early, they could stay in New England and pluck Blidi Wreh-Wilson from Connecticut. We also wouldn’t be too shocked if the Patriots were the team that rolls the dice on the erstwhile Honey Badger and places a bet that Tyrann Mathieu’s talent beats out his red flags.

Safety: Another need that’s not particularly acute thanks to the signing of Adrian Wilson, but it’s a spot where the Patriots might look to stop the revolving door that’s been in place in recent seasons. They tried to do that with Patrick Chung, but he couldn’t stay healthy and now plays in Philadelphia. Wilson should be fine in 2013, but he’s turning 34 in October and the team could find D.J. Swearinger of South Carolina a tempting prospect for the long term in the second round.

25 responses to “Team needs: New England Patriots

  1. Patriots offense relies on the short passes. Defenses are starting to clog the space at line of scrimmage and bat Brady’s passes down.

    They need a deep threat or two to stretch the field.

    Belichick can’t draft a WR or DB to save his life. Should have gone after Cruz as a RFA.

  2. I think as long as the Pats come out with a WR in the first three rounds I’d consider the draft a success, while they certainly have needs elsewhere as you’ve mentioned those spots (rusher, CB, safety, coverage linebacker too) would still be serviceable if they brought in no extra help, whereas at WR I simply can’t see them getting the level of production they need without bringing in at least one more WR.

    I do totally expect the pats to try and trade back and pick up more then 5 picks though. I’d be shocked if they only drafted 5 players.

  3. If Henrnandez, Gronk and Edelman can stay healthy, those three plus Amendola will keep the opposing cornerbacks busy but they still need more depth at the WR position.
    Otherwise I think Safety and more depth on the O-line and D-line should be where they draft.

  4. I’m penciling in Ryan Nassib being drafted in the 29 spot. Not by the Pats of course. I think they trade back, pick up some picks, and screw over Buffalo in the process. Just a hunch.

  5. I think the Pats are set at safety and defensive end. People are overlooking Tavon Wilson as a future starter. You don’t draft someone in the 2nd round to only play in sub packages. And as for defensive end, we have Jones, Ninkovich, and we have Francis and Bequette as nice depth options. I also think corner isn’t as much of a need as people think. Arrington is one of the best in the league when playing in the slot, Dennard played very well last year, and we’ve yet to see how good Ras-I Dowling is. That being said, I’m hoping our first 4 picks are a wide reciever, a coverage linebacker, a cornerback, and a defensive tackle, in no particular order.

  6. @jpb12, you say that the Pats need “a deep threat or two to stretch the field”, and then you recommend a SLOT receiver. Keep your day job.

  7. “drastically inferior”

    I am sorry, but the Patriots are not “drastically inferior” to any team.

  8. I agree with this needs assessment, but I think the biggest one is DL. Not only is Wilfork(arguably the most important person on the D) not getting any younger, they have to start cutting down his snaps and working someone else in if they expect him to get thru the season. Love and Deaderick’s contracts are up at the end of the yr, the CFL guy, athough intriguing, is a question mark and TKelly is at the end of his career. If Williams slid, I bet they’d pounce, but that’s highly doubtful. Maybe trade out and get someone like KShort. They’ve had a great track record drafting DLs high(Seymour, Warren, Wilfork). There are several good WRs and CBs in the 2nd and 3rd rnd.

    Pats inferior to Denver? Those 3 blowouts the last couple yrs would seem to indicate otherwise, and that was before they lost Dumervil because they didn’t fax his contract on time

  9. I’d be shocked if the Pats keep the 29th pick. Can’t see Belichek going rnds 4-6 without a pick. Even tho there will be a lot of trades with the picks in front of them, there will still be a team or two lookin for their #29. He’ll get the 2nd and a 4th or 5th from the trading team.

  10. The Patriots only have one true “need” for this upcoming season and that’s at WR. I like Hopkins the most but I have no clue who Belichick would prefer. They don’t need a deep threat they just need a guy who can be physical (like Boldin) and that can win on the outside.

    The other thing the Patriots could use is a pass rusher. Either a DE or DT. Carradine could fall to 29. If you pair him up with Jones you could really have something special there. I really like Kawann Short as well he’s a strong pass rushing interior lineman.

    Corner is a luxury this year. Talb is a FA next season and maybe the Patriots will want to protect themselves in case he leaves but this team is actually set at corner and safety for the first time in what seems like forever. Dennard was a steal in the seventh and Arrington is a pretty darn good slot corner.

    The Patriots get a lot of flack for a team that’s hosted the last two AFC title games. They don’t have that much needs at all. If Belichick hits on a few of these picks like he has been for the last three years the Patriots may be able to get that elusive fourth Lombardi trophy.

  11. They might do quite well with 5 picks. Out of all the years they had tons of picks,how many made the team? Plus they have the option of trading back,or don’t be totally shocked if they if they have a deal cooking for Mallet. They won’t hold onto him next year. Not to worry anyway.

  12. I hope they draft an outside WR to stretch the field. That will prompt more deep throws from Brady. Brady will feel compelled to make the deep throw. Which in conclusion..spells PICK.

  13. Team Needs: Andre Tippett, Jim Nance, Sam Cunningham, Gino Capelletti and John Hannah.

  14. Drastically inferior huh? Can’t seem to remember last time you beat this drastically inferior team!

  15. @henry53 who says:Apr 21, 2013 9:18 AM

    “If Henrnandez, Gronk and Edelman can stay healthy, those three plus Amendola will keep the opposing cornerbacks busy but they still need more depth at the WR position.”

    I agree with the comment. But it is a huge risk, since all four plus Jake Ballard are battling serious injuries right now. I wouldn’t bet the ranch on any of them lasting more than 6-8 games. And history suggests that Gronk and Hernandez are rarely healthy at the same time. I think the Pats will go the cheap route and fill their WR needs with training camp cutdowns; bringbacks (Moss, Branch, LLoyd and discarded veteran players from other teams like Santana Moss). I do suspect they may take a wideout in the 4th or 5th round. But don’t be surprised to see them pass completely on wideouts. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they retested the waters with Randy Moss as a spot player. He still has great chemistry with Tom Brady. And fits that offense perfectly. Even a 75% Randy Moss would take a ton of pressure off the healing tight ends.

    I beleive they will go big versatile running back early instead of WR. You have to remember that Shane Vereen is a very talented young runner/receiver/slotback with huge breakaway speed upside. He is very similar to Percy Harvin. Except he has more raw speed. And is a threat on sweeps and reverses from the backfiled. Expect to see a lot of him playing in the slot to clear out areas for Hernandez coming out of the backfield with LB coverage. I clearly see the Pats moving Vereen in the slot ahead of Edelman to create huge mismatches with LBs and safeties.

    Bottom Line is the Pats have a lot of raw talent to throw at teams to create mismatches all over the field. They also have several talented young wideouts from their practice squad, who may be ready for prime time. T wouldn’t shed any tears for them. They’re still loaded. All they need is a savvy, veteran backup threat at WR. How fast can you say, Hello Randy Moss again.

  16. “Patriots offense relies on the short passes. Defenses are starting to clog the space at line of scrimmage and bat Brady’s passes down.
    They need a deep threat or two to stretch the field.”

    I don’t know if Brady is consistent with deep corner throws? THe Ravens banked on that and it worked. I don’t know if it’s the receivers that’s the problem.

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