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The Patriots drafted its fifth cornerback in three years, selecting Virginia’s Ras-I Dowling.
Dowling was ranked as the No. 1 cornerback by ESPN’s Todd McShay following the 2010 NFL Draft. Dowling missed the majority of the 2011 season with a broken ankle and nagging hamstring and knee injuries. When healthy, Dowling was effective for the Cavaliers.
As a junior, Dowling recorded 58 tackles with three interceptions. At 6-1, Dowling is the tallest Patriots cornerback, and is the first corner over 6-foot that Bill Belichick has drafted with New England. Dowling is very long, and is a natural athlete in coverage. However, his injury concerns are something that dropped Dowling into the second round of the draft.
Dowling will join 2010 first rounder Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden (who is coming off a season-ending injury), and Kyle Arrington.
Below is a scouting report on Dowling from fftoolbox.com.
Dowling’s size is what makes him such an attractive cornerback. At 6-2 and 200 pounds, Dowling has more size than most corners, but he does not lack the coverage skills or the speed to keep up with most NFL receivers. His size could also mean Dowling could play some safety and that versatility, not to mention his great cover skills, make him a very attractive prospect. Dowling’s lack of playing time during his senior season has hurt his stock, but Dowling could have been a borderline first round pick last year. He needs to prove that his knee injury is healed sooner or later, but NFL scouts can look at his junior season and know that they have a quality player who is worthy of a late first round selection.
The Patriots have picks 56 and 60 left in the second round.