A Closer Look At What The Patriots Need
April is officially upon us, which means the NFL draft is just a few weeks away. As rosters begin to fill out from free agency, teams will hone in on the draft to sure up any holes with young talent.
For the Patriots, the addition of Adrian Wilson and re-signing of Kyle Arrington and Aqib Talib helped boost talent in the defensive backfield - on of the key areas of need for the team this offseason. The departure of Wes Welker and release of Brandon Lloyd thinned the receivings corps, until the Patriots signed Danny Amendola, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins.
There is still work to be done in New England, though, and we will see if the team makes any more moves for players in the free agenct pool. But as we bear down on the draft, let's take a look at some positions that can be addressed by the Patriots, and what players could fill those voids.
We can start in the defensive backfield. Yes, the Patriots have done wonders this offseason by signing Wilson, who almost resembles the Rodney Harrison-type strong safety. The Patriots signed Harrison after his prolific career with the Chargers, but he absolutely wasn't out of gas. Harrison was a huge part of one Super Bowl victory for New England, and helped the team get to another in 2007-2008.
In previous mock drafts scattered amongst the Internet, the Patriots were tied to Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Since the combine and pro day workouts, Rhodes' draft status has elevated to mid-first round and out of range for the Patriots' number 29 pick.
Washington's Desmond Trufant, Mississippi State's Jonathan Banks, and Florida's Matt Elam are other names associated with New England in recent mock drafts.
The wide receiver position is a toss up this year in New England. After not returning Welker and Lloyd, as well as the uncertainty of Julian Edelman's future with the team, the Patriots took to free agency to sign a multitude of veterans with the hopes that some players fit the system and make the team. But the team could still use a young down field talent that is capable of stretching a defense.
Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins and USC's Robert Woods have been tagged as potential Patriots. It was reported earlier in the week that Hopkins and Clemson running back Andre Ellington visited the team's facilities for workouts.
Offensive line is an area of focus for the Patriots, especially with key players entering the final year of their contracts in 2013. But for the time being, the urgency isn't as present as positions like defensive back and wide receiver.
The Patriots haven't taken a receiver in the first round since they drafted Terry Glenn in 1996, and have repeatedly seen failed experiments at the position, like Chad Jackson in 2006. But maybe this is the time to draft a receiver early and develop him, if the right player is still on the board. There's plenty of depth in this draft at defensive back and receiver, and there shouldn't be any doubt the Patriots will pull the trigger on at least one player at each position this April.