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Since there is a poll thread about the DL, it made me think of the OL and the need for lineman? So how big of need is the OL?
I think that Light played very well this year but is getting older. I think Koppens best days are behind him, is Mankins going to resign with the Pats, Vollmer seemed to take a step back, doe Neal return and if not whom else is going to play opposite of Vollmer on the right?
To me, I think the OL has a bigger need(s) to fill this draft than even the DL. On the DL we have Wilfork, Warren (if he can make a comeback), G. Warren, Wright, Pryor, Brace, Love, & Deadrick (if he can get his head out of his ass).
So who do the Pats target in the draft? Is there an OL stud that can anchor the line at center or LT which the Pats would even consider moving up in the first round to get?
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I think it is dependent on whether or not Mankins (and Light) are resigned.
If either or both are not, it becomes a top priority.
If they are both resigned, the three positions (OLB, DE, OL) are 1a, 1b, and 1c priorities. I would like to see the Pats draft a player for each of these positions with their top three picks.
For the short term, assuming Mankins and Light return don't forget Kaczur returns as either depth at tackle or depth inside. For example Kaczur could move to RG and Connolly replace Koppen at C. Or a top-33 draft pick could bolster the interior line, and Kaczur is your depth at both tackle and guard if somebody gets hurt.
If Neal returns that's a bonus, but I wouldn't count on him for anything at this point, unless it's to play half a season until the rookie is ready to take over.
Right now, assuming Light and Mankins are gone and Neal retires, we're looking at an OL of Vollmer, Connolly, Koppen, Wendell, and Kaczur.
A new center was needed last offseason. Koppen needs to go immediately. If it's a rookie that replaces him, so be it. Mankins obviously would be great to have back. A new right tackle would also be ideal. Carimi would be a good RT prospect, but right now it looks like somebody is going to overdraft him as a LT. I seriously think we'll see 2 OL in the first 2 rounds, including a starting center (Wisniewski is a guy who could be around at 28 and would fit). Rather than the OL listed above, this would be so much better:
Vollmer - Mankins - Wisniewski - Connolly - Carimi/Castonzo/Sherrod/Solder
with Kaczur as the backup LG, RG, and RT and replacing the rookie RT who would move to left tackle in case of an injury to Vollmer and Connolly who would move to center in case of an injury to the center.
Koppen has been horrible, and Light got dominated against the Jets. Solution? Replace them both.
DE and OLB are the two biggest needs the team has, if Neal returns and Mankins is re-signed. If Mankins is re-signed, but Neal doesn't come back, OG would go to need #1, but you'd still look to take that guard after the DE and OLB because of the better opportunities to get a great one later in the draft.
Assuming no major defections (i.e. Mankins), free agent signings or draft pick changes, I'd like to see something like the following:
G and C are a bigger need than DL, especially considering the return of players from injury. However, top 3-5 centers or guards from a draft class last through round 2. However, top 5 OLB and DE are gone in the first round. Thus, to get high caliber players at all positions, they should draft DE and OLB in Round 1 and OG and C in Round 2.