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On Wednesday, we looked at the two most pressing needs for the Patriots. Now, we’ll shift our focus to needs three and four.
It’s no secret that the acquisition of Andre Carter was the best of the offseason for the Patriots. The signing of Carter went under the radar with big-names like Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth in the mix.
Carter leads the Patriots with 8.5 sacks on the season, including four last week against the Jets. Along with Carter, the Patriots have utilized Mark Anderson. Anderson, a new addition this season like Carter, has 5.5 sacks on the season — the highest total for him since he recorded 12 during his rookie season in 2006.
However, behind Carter and Anderson, the Patriots are thin at defensive end. Brandon Deaderick and veteran Shaun Ellis have also contributed, but the need for a young, pass rushing specialist is present.
Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have drafted two defensive ends since 2006, and haven’t drafted a DE higher than round two since Marquise Hill in 2004.
The 2012 DE crop, although not strong, is solid. Arkansas’ Jake Bequette stands at 6-foot-5, 271-pounds and runs around the 4.6 range. Bequette has six sacks on the year, and should be available in the second round.
No matter how good Tom Brady is, and no matter how well the Patriots can disguish it. They need a playmaking receiver.
Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez do a delightful job over the middle of the field and Deion Branch does occasioning get open on the outside. But, the offense doesn’t have that WR that strikes fear in opponents.
The Randy Moss’, Larry Fitzgerald’s, Andre Johnson’s, etc. Most thought Ochocinco could play the part, but the experiment hasn’t worked to the likes of many.
In this draft class there are five WRs that fit the Patriots need. Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) and Rueben Randle (LSU), both juniors, are at the top of the list and figure to go in the top 20 should they declare.
Then you have Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) and Nick Toon (Wisconsin) along with up-and-comer Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M).
New England had their chance at Dez Bryant in 2010, but chose to pass on the uber-talented wideout. In the past, Belichick has struggled drafting receivers — missing on Bethel Johnson, Chad Jackson and Brandon Tate (and to an extent, Taylor Price).
Since Belichick took over in 2000, the Patriots have never drafted a wide receiver in the first round.
Follow Matthew Marcantonio on Twitter: @M_Marcantonio