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With the upcoming NFL draft right around the corner, the ever present question remains- what will the New England Patriots do? Many experts speculate that Bill Belichick will conduct himself as normal and find a way to trade down in order to get more picks, as has been the situation in the past.
Here are some areas in which they can vastly improve their depth as a team:
The top priority for the New England Patriots should be to add some top prospects to their organization to help out some of the veterans like Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich. If they don’t decide to trade, the Patriots will have the number 29 pick in the first round. Experts predict that they pursue Stephon Tuitt from Notre Dame to help against the run. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have another guy on the front line who is big and athletic like number 75! I wouldn’t be surprised if they go after another one of Hightower’s buddies and pick up Adrian Hubbard from Alabama or even go after Trent Murphy from Stanford. Belichick has also been a defensively minded coach, so I’ll be curious to see how they use their selections come May.
With the departure of Aqib Talib to the Broncos, the Patriots were at a crossroads in terms of what to do with their secondary. The Kraft family made some wise business decisions in the offseason. With the recent additions of Revis and Browner as well as the return of Patrick Chung in the secondary should give us plenty of experience in the absence of Talib. In terms of the draft, however, they need to add at least one more safety or cornerback into the mix to help out. One name that jumps out to me is Bashaud Breeland from Clemson. He is a big, fast cornerback who can defend against the run and can work well with Belichick to improve his skills on the field. Maybe even a family reunion might be in the works with the addition of Darqueze Dennard.
The Patriots current running game appears to be pretty solid. Between Vereen/Bolden and Ridley, they have a formidable trio that leaves opposing defenses wondering what to do. They shouldn’t have a need to draft anyone in this particular area, considering that they also have Develin and Gray to round out the running corps.
The Patriots currently have a strong receiving corps with the addition of Brandon LaFell to the already strong group of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Other receivers like Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Tompkins had a smaller role last year, but were equally as much of a target as their top receivers like Edelman. The key here is for everyone to stay healthy throughout the entire course of the season. It would behoove them if they didn’t try to pursue another Randy Moss like receiver in Brandon Coleman from Rutgers. With his size alone he would be a prime target for Brady and whoever succeeds him later on down the road.
The tight end position continues to be a problem for the Patriots. With Rob Gronkowski’s continuous health issues, it’s time for them to pick up at least one TE in the draft to combat this problem should it occur again. Given that there are only a select few to choose from in the draft, this might be the time that the Patriots trade up or down, depending on how you look at things. My top choice would be another member of the Fighting Irish in Troy Niklas. He is a good counter to Gronkowski and can provide size and speed on the opposite side of the line up whether to help block or during a screen route. At 6’6″ and 270 he is the top choice for this position, and I hope that they can find a way to acquire him somehow.
The current QB situation with the Patriots is far from that. Having arguably the best QB of all time in Tom Brady, the Patriots are okay in this area. However, only having one back up QB is a little problematic. They need to bring in someone who can learn their playbook and eventually take over for Brady when he eventually hangs up his cleats. One such possibility that has been thrown around is A.J. McCarron. Belichick seems to like the guys from Alabama, and he would be a good fit in the organization. Considering that most of the QB’s in the 1st round of the draft will be gone by the time that New England comes around, only time will tell what they do here.
Also, they need to worry about protecting number 12 from the other teams. They currently have a strong offensive line, but could benefit by adding one or two more fresh faces into the mix to help out. Maybe the best solution is a Jake Matthews or Dakota Dozier to supplement guys like Ryan Wendell.
Either way, it should be an interesting NFL Draft as usual and I’m looking forward to football being back on. With the release of the 2014 schedule a trip to Rutherford, NJ might be in the works to see the Brady bunch take on the Jets led by Michael Vick and crew.