2011 NFL Draft | New England Patriots Team Needs
For starters, the New England Patriots don’t have too many holes that need filling. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been able to win year after year with a revolving door of seemingly average players, especially on offense.
The team went 14-2 during the regular season before bowing out in the Divisional Round of the playoffs to the New York Jets. The defense is very young, but got stronger as the season went along.
The Patriots ranked 30th in the league in opponent passing yardage allowed. Will they upgrade the secondary?
For all of their success through the years, New England has not actually won a Super Bowl since 2004. There’s always room for improvement.
Biggest Needs: RB, T, G
The Patriots’ offensive line has been a model of consistency for years, as the same group seems to have been starting together since the Super Bowl run.
However, there are some issues. Left tackle Matt Light is 32 and will be a free agent. Left guard Logan Mankins held out for almost half of the season, and will be a free agent, as well. Center Dan Koppen will be 32 at the beginning of next season.
So, it may be time for the Pats to realistically seek replacements for the future. With two picks in each of the first three rounds, they’ll have plenty of opportunities. The top tackle prospects are Nate Solder, Anthony Castonzo, Derek Sherrod and Tyron Smith. The top interior linemen are Marcus Cannon, Mike Pouncey, Stefen Wisniewski and Rodney Hudson.
Much was made this season of New England’s crazy cast of running backs. The tandem BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead helped carry much of the offensive load for New England, and upgrades may not be completely necessary. Still, though, this team has been able to win without a true star running back for years.
With so many draft picks, they may be interested in bringing in a featured back. Former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram is the top back in this class, but he may be gone by the time they’re picking at No. 17. After him, you have guys like Daniel Thomas, Kendall Hunter and Mikel LeShoure.
Biggest Needs: OLB, DE, CB
Tully Banta-Cain and Rob Ninkovich had solid seasons, but the team could upgrade at the position with a big-time pass rusher on the outside of the 3-4.
Since they traded Richard Seymour to Oakland a couple years back, the team has also lacked a real difference-maker at defensive end. Gerard Warren is 32 and will be a free agent this spring.
North Carolina’s Marvin Austin is a guy that can play any position on the defensive line, and may be a perfect fit alongside big Vince Wilfork on New England’s front.
Last year’s first-round pick, Devin McCourty, emerged as a possible shut-down corner and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Kyle Arrington is the starter on the other side, and they may be able to upgrade that spot, as well.
A few mid-round prospects to watch are Jaron Johnson, Davon House, Brandon Burton and Omar Bolden.