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Offense or defense? Trade up or stay put? Just two of the many questions surrounding what the New England Patriots will do with this year’s first round draft pick (29th overall). There are a select few names that come up in each mock draft. And let’s be honest, you can’t turn your head without getting hit in the face with someone’s mock draft.
We’ll start with those who want the Patriots to go with an offensive pick. In most mock drafts where the 29th pick is an offensive player, one name that continually appears: tight end Jace Amaro. Amaro seems to be the consensus favorite amongst the majority of drafts. One mock even had the Patriots trading up, which we all know would be very un-Belichickian, in order to get Amaro.
One of the battle cries this offseason has been for the Patriots to surround Tom Brady with more weapons because his window as an elite NFL player is closing. At 6’5″ and 265 pounds, Amaro fits the bill as another big target for Brady. In an ideal world, he would fill the role vacated by New England’s second favorite convict (sorry, but Whitey holds the top spot), Aaron Hernandez. In reality, Amaro would probably fill that role for about 7-9 games before taking over Rob Gronkowski’s role when Gronk inevitably gets injured.
There only seems to be one minor flaw with drafting Amaro. There are those, present company included, that believe Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins are going to be solid contributors next season. Plus, when you have a quarterback like Brady who can make a receiver with the size of Tyrion Lannister play like an All-Pro, it begs the question if the Patriots really need another weapon. How much a player like Amaro is needed will rest with how the Patriots handle Julian Edelman’s free agency.
Then there are those thinking outside the box and assuming the Patriots will use their first round pick to beef up their defensive front. This is another valid concern as the Patriots were unable to create pressure on Peyton Manning in the AFC Championsip game and were occasionally gashed by the running game. Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt appears to be the front runner for those who think Bill Belichick will select a defensive player (although one draft did have Kony Ealy of Missouri as the pick).
While Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga did an admirable job securing the middle of the defense after some key injuries, it’s hard not to see the large and versatile Tuitt as an upgrade. He has both the size and speed to play inside at defensive tackle and outside at defensive end. The selection of Tuitt would add depth and allow Belichick and Matt Patricia to move some guyslike Rob Ninkovich around or occasionally spell Chandler Jones.
There are still a lot of pieces that need to fall into place before the draft picture becomes clear. There are free agent signings to be made, franchise tags to be placed, and pro days to be had. Any one of these can affect not only how the Patriots draft, but how the teams ahead of them draft. Whether you fall on the offensive or the defensive side, the only thing that really matters is whether or not the player the team selects will have an immediate impact.