Draft needs: New England Patriots

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With the NFL Draft approaching, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the needs of each club. Up next are the Patriots, fresh off another AFC East title and another trip to the AFC Championship Game. For the second year in a row, the Patriots lost that game, however, and we’ll be taking a look at the needs they should fill if they want to play one more game after the 2014 season.

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski’s status for the start of the season is still up in the air, which has led the Patriots to kick the tires on former Jet and Dolphin Dustin Keller. Keller would fit as a move tight end alongside Gronkowski, but he’s coming off a catastrophic knee injury and the Patriots might opt to go for a rookie with a cleaner bill of health.

Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro is at the top of the list for the Patriots to consider and he’ll likely be available with the 29th overall pick. The Patriots could also choose to trade out of their pick, something Bill Belichick’s never shied away from, and gain another second-rounder that they could use to bolster the tight end spot.

Defensive Line: The Patriots hung on to Vince Wilfork after all, but he’s coming off a torn Achilles at 32. He turns 33 during the season and Tommy Kelly turns 34, so they should be looking for some younger bodies to work into the mix up front.

Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman and two Notre Dame players – Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix – could be fits in the first round. Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley’s talent puts him at the same level. A torn ACL last season creates both a cause for concern and a chance to get a talented player at a good spot in the draft.

Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich are set at defensive end, but the addition of a pass-rushing prospect to compete with Jake Bequette and Michael Buchannan for a role wouldn’t be the worse idea.

Guard/Center: The Patriots re-signed center Ryan Wendell, but he didn’t play at a high level last season. Neither did right guard Dan Connolly, left guard Logan Mankins is 32 and there’s not much depth. That makes four good reasons for the Patriots to be looking for help on the interior.

USC center Marcus Martin, Colorado State center Weston Richburg, UCLA guard Xavier Su’a-Filo and Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson are some of the top interior players who could be options on the first two days.

Safety: Adding Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner kicked things up a notch at cornerback. That makes it less urgent that the Patriots make the same kind of move at the safety spot alongside Devin McCourty, but more competition for Duron Harmon isn’t going to hurt them. Minnesota’s Brock Vereen should be around in the middle rounds and his brother Shane has served the Patriots well.

Running Back: Wasn’t someone just talking about Shane Vereen? Assuming Vereen is fully recovered from his wrist injury, he and Stevan Ridley give the Patriots two good options in the backfield. Brandon Bolden is also back, but the Pats did lose LeGarrette Blount as a free agent and Vereen’s pass-heavy role may have Belichick looking for a bruiser in Blount’s mold to round out the group.

14 responses to “Draft needs: New England Patriots

  1. Trade or take the best player available. They really don’t need anyone to come in and play a lot right away, with the possible exception of TE, and they’ll be guys available later(Fiedorowicz). Pass rusher like KEaly would be at the top of my wish list, but he prob won’t be there. They need a DT, but not wild about the ones available at 29. They’ll need a developmental QB to replace Mallett and possibly succeed Brady(Savage, Mettenberger?).

  2. The Patriots are going to trade down and that’s just reality. There will be some team desperate to get a player they covet and Belichick will pull the trigger, especially in a deep class like this one.

    Everybody has the Patriots taking Hageman, but he has bust written all over him. Lack of effort, lack of pass rushing skills, Belichick won’t be the coach to pull the trigger on an inconsistent player like him.

  3. They should trade up and covert one of the QB’s because Brady’s time is coming to an end and Mallet isn’t the answer.

  4. OL help please. No way Martin will be there at 29 but Su’a-Filo would be a very nice consolation prize.

  5. My guy is Austin Sefarian Jenkins at TE. Who we may get in round 2 if he’s there. I would use the first rounder on Louis Nix. A Qb we should watch for late would be Aaron Murray- love him.

  6. The pats will either trade down or if there is someone there they can’t pass up but I’m really wish and I know it’s a big wish they could get Arron Donald and Deone Bucannon in this draft cause that alone would be huge!!!

  7. I can guarantee is that I will watch every second of Round 1 of the draft on Thursday eagerly awaiting the Patriots to make the 29th selection. Then, when their number is called, Roger Godell will come out to the podium and say, “the New England Patriots have traded their pick to…” Being a few too many beers deep I will proceed to throw my remote controller in disgust and go to sleep.

    I’m so sick of the “value” saying. For once, just once I want the Patriots to trade up and make a huge splash. By splash I honestly mean Clowney or Watkins. Instead, it’ll be a Thursday night of nothing for the Patriots, except maybe an additional draft pick for Friday or Saturday.

  8. If Bill really wants to make some noise and this draft is as deep as they say. Bill should trade next years first and a third or fourth to make it work, to a team with two seconds this year giving them a First and three seconds.

  9. if we somehow get su a’filo and austin seferian jenkins i’d be thrilled! we’d upgrade two key positions. then try for daquan jones in the third round. perfect draft. pick up a few o linemen later on. not like we’ve always had superstar guards besides mankins. just need a solid player. maybe chris watt for notre dame. or, a late flyer on spencer long.

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