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The consensus of what the Patriots will be looking for, starting with greatest need: outside linebacker, defensive end, offensive guard/center, running back, offensive tackle.
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Exactly. You can't be slow and play in Bill's defense. It doesn't work. He's better off as a 4-3 OLB, imo. I do agree on Kerrigan. Similar to how Vrabel was a backup in Pittsburgh before not being resigned, I see Kerrigan as the type of player that can play OLB for the Pats, but not a team like the Steelers or Packers.
With the season going as good as it is, its getting pretty hard to establish a position that really needs a significant upgrade, heres my thoughts.
OL: This is probably the most likely place the patriots will draft in, with mankins, light and neal all in question for next year and the patriots being in a position where they can likely take their pick of elite players from this catagory, this could be a place of focus for the patriots. personally i would try my best to resign light and mankins and draft later for depth on the OL, using the draft picks in other positions. a whole new cast of rookies who would be charged with protecting tom and throw blocks for runningbacks isnt likely to be a successful formula, regardless of how high they are drafted.
DL/DE: The patriots actually have a good amount of depth here. deaderick, brace, pryor, warren, warren, wilfork and whoever else i am forgetting, if the patriots are looking for a prototypical 5 tech DE they arent likely to get an elite one without trading way up. i just dont know if it is worth it to invest in an area which has proven this year to be quite decent in pressure, especially since ty warren is coming back next year.
RB: BJGE is looking fantastic out there, he is tremendous at finding holes and getting tough yardage, he hasent fumbled in his career (knock on wood) and is even showing up a bit as a pass catcher. he and woodhead are a great tandem and while i think the patriots will add some depth to this group if they choose not to re sign fred taylor and faulk, the patriots are gaining confidence in BJGE and he has passed every test that he has been given thus far.
OLB: Now this is a position i can actually see some change at. if the patriots have one weakness going forward i think it is coverage and setting the edge. the patriots have tully banta cain, jermaine cunningham and rob ninkovich all running around trying to do the same thing, but none are particularly efficient at all 3, pass rushing, setting the edge and coverage. if the patriots can identify someone who is able to do all 3 of these things in their system i think they would be very interested, the patriots drafted devin mccourty because he is a 4 down player, the patriots could really use someone like this at OLB.
Safety: We have Chung as our strong safety and before he was injured he was a complete beast and sanders has made some good plays this season, but this team has shifted into more of a 3 safety team and meriweather is being outplayed by guys like page who wont be here next year. the patriots have alot of safety depth on IR right now with mcgowan and barnett (i think thats his name), but if the patriots hey can identify a ballhawking safety like earl thomas from 2009, i think they would be very interested as meriweather moves towards free agency.
WR: This is actually a position i think the patriots are set up at. look how well branch is playing, he and tom have like some kind of mindmeld going on, they play so well together that the patriots need to ride this combo out for as long as deion can still play, welker obviously is a great compliment to tom as well and second only to deion branch (in my opinion) in terms of trust, execution and method. there are no 2 guys in the league who tom trusts or knows more than welker and branch, the depth the patriots have right now doesnt need to be improved. edelman is hungry but can barely get on the field, you could tell how pissed he was after dane fletcher got flagged on his huge punt return, brandon tate has cooled off a little bit in kickoff returns, but he has enough speed and the instincts to know what to do, whatever we get out of price is a bonus as far as im concerned. if there is a WR we really like maybe we take a shot at them, but me personally, id rather have branch and welker out there over a.j green and larry fitzgerald right now.
TE: this position is set and locked for the next half decade.
QB: we have the best quarterback in the league starting and hoyer is said to be looking pretty good in warmups as well. hopefully we never see him.
ILB: Mayo is doing a great job in the run game and guyton looks great in coverage, spikes (assuming he doesnt get into anymore trouble) is looking great as well. Fletcher hasent shown me anything and mckenzie is off the roster. so if fletcher doesnt improve perhaps you find another good coverage ILB in the later rounds who you like.
CB: This is actually an interesting position, mccourty looks amazing, last year bodden was tremendous as well, but when he finally plays in 2011 he wont have seen the field for the entire year, so who knows what to expect. Arrington has been a tremendous find and i think he is great Belichick versatility player who can play coverage or play as your blitzing cb, he has event lined up on the line. butler has played lately but he really needs to prove to me that he can do more than pick up PI calls. if the patriots are in position to draft brandon harris or even prince amukamura, they may bite as these players could propel this team's second into the elite as the game focuses more and more on passing offense.
not necessarily, keep in mind that Mankins was a first round pick and they have molded him into an elite player who we now consider invaluable to this team, Maurkice pouncey from last year is a mauler in much the same mold as mankins and he was selected before the patriots first pick.
if there is a player the patriots like and put enough value into, i think the patriots draft them, sure the patriots could find 'good' talent in the 2nd and third rounds, but the patriots have a chance to draft 3 'elite' players in a patriots system, and they could play any position even the positions we currently think of as set, as was the situation with the mccourty pick for the CB position from last year.
if the 2010 draft was redone, mccourty would be a top 5 pick.