Every organization has a philosophy about the draft. It appears the Patriots do not draft speed-rushing outside linebackers with high picks. It is possible that circumstances have just not fallen into place and that they haven't been very excited about recent prospects. However, the 2009 draft boasted several huge prospects at the position, including Clay Matthews, who many draft pundits had the Patriots picking. They traded down. Also, I believed a few years ago that the Pats would not spend a high pick on a cornerback and was proven wrong last year. So, this is definitely speculation. Now for the case. The Patriots have frequently passed on edge rushers in the early rounds of the draft, despite projected fits from experts. The reason is likely because this position has a very high bust rate, with very little film on players in a 3-4 OLB role. Many have said this is the most difficult position to transition from college to the pros. Despite all the rave before each draft, the last few years have not really produced a lot of talent. For every DeMarcus Ware and Clay Matthews, there are plenty of busts. You can check out the draft history here. National Football League: NFL Draft History - by Position The Patriots current roster is highlighted by Jermaine Cunningham, a third-round pick, and Tully Banta-Cain, who was drafted in the seventh round. Around the NFL, some of the best at the position did not exactly come heralded. And remember, every year there are five guys who excite scouts, yet there are certainly not many guys who have come into the NFL and established themselves as elite 3-4 pass rushers. James Harrison- Came into the NFL undrafted in 2002. Was shipped to Europe to play for the Ravens team there. Didn't make an impact until 2007, five years later. Cameron Wake- Also undrafted in 2005. Like Harrison, he did not make the roster and played in the CFL. It also took him five years to finally break through. Jason Taylor- Third round pick. And also, Taylor could be a classic case of not being able to transition to a 3-4, although age could have been a factor as well. Joey Porter- As much as I hate the guy, he was an elite pass rusher. Another third round pick taken 73rd overall (same as Taylor.) Shaun Philips- Third round pick. Anyway, if you look at the hyped players drafted near the top, you find a lot of players that make you say "who is that guy?" With the exception of Suggs, Matthews, and Ware, there are very few impact players taken near the top at this position, and a lot of huge, monumental busts like Gholston. Yes, you can make the argument that this is true with all positions, but it is much more statistically true at this one. As for the Patriots, they have rarely drafted players at this position. Since Belichick took over, here is the breakdown: Skill positions (QB, WR, TE, RB)-32 Offensive line- 18 Defensive line- 16 Secondary- 14 Linebackers- 12* *Cunningham is the only OLB drafted in the first two rounds, near the end of round two. This is pretty amazing when you consider how important the linebacker position is in a 3-4 defense, and it shows that the Patriots do not really trust the hype at this position. Here is where some of the impact players landed: Rosevelt Colvin- Fourth round pick Mike Vrabel- Third-round pick, dumped by Pittsburgh Adalius Thomas- Sixth round pick Willie McGinest- Fourth overall pick, so he breaks the trend, although Willie played defensive end quite a bit as well. It's not that this position is not valuable. I think the contracts given to Colvin and Thomas, two high-priced free agents, show that it is. But we know that Belichick hates taking crapshoot risks, and all moves are calculated with high-reward. That said, history has shown that successful linebacking pass rushers are typically developed over a long period of time in the league, with high bust rates at the top, and plenty of surprises near the mid to late rounds (or undrafted.) This is probably not what many people want to hear, but don't be surprised AT ALL if the Patriots do not take a DE/OLB in the first round (or 33.) I expect they might take two 3-4 DE/DTs.