New England Patriots 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
The New England Patriots were as slick as ever on offense in 2012, and road a successful regular season to the AFC title game for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, they couldn’t knock off the spirited Baltimore Ravens at home, and had their bid for a second straight Super Bowl appearance ended.
That’s not bad for a season in which many teams would suffer a “Super Bowl hangover”, especially when you consider last year’s champs, the New York Giants, couldn’t even make it into post-season play.
We all know the Patriots are an elite organization and will be right back at it again in 2013 with the same goal in mind. With that said, they’ve got some key free agents and some decisions to make. Let’s see where they need to make some changes to make sure they play in a third straight AFC Championship game:
Offensive Needs: WR, OL
It’s no secret the Patriots have one of the best quarterbacks in the game today, an unstoppable tight end duo, a deep back-field, and a solid offensive line. With a team so stacked, where are the weaknesses? Well, when free agency comes, sometimes it can hit you like a ton of bricks. And this year, those bricks could take Wes Welker and Sebastian Vollmer down with them.
Welker has to be a priority. I know a lot of people are laughing him off as if he’s just a product of the system and he can be replaced. I don’t buy it. Welker can’t just be replaced by a Danny Amendola or Julian Edelman. With that said, I’m not the one making the decision and it’s very possible Bill Belichick and co. decide to save some cash and move on from the 31-year old slot machine. If they do that, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin is a real possibility in the first round. That’s my current prediction for New England in the first round, but they really could go after a number of receivers, as well as target a receiver in free agency (yeah, one not named Welker, if you can believe it). Bottom line: the Pats need to either retain Welker or replace him, and even beyond him they could also use a deep threat, too.
After receiver, the Patriots have little worries on offense. I’d like to see them hold onto a glue guy in Danny Woodhead, but really the only other issue is their offensive line. It’s pretty solid, but Sebastian Vollmer is a free agent, and if they let him walk they suddenly have to get a new right tackle. I think they keep him, as they should, but even if they do, they’d be wise to add some solid depth across the board on the o-line. A guy like Barrett Jones would make a ton of sense for them if he can fall in the second round, as he’s insanely versatile.
Defensive Needs: CB, S, DL
The Patriots made a nice move by trading for Aqib Talib, but that patch work job didn’t help them get a Super Bowl appearance, and now the troubled Talib is set to hit the open market. I doubt they retain him, which means they have to hunt for another corner or two. They could go after one in the first, but with them likely getting a wide receiver there, look for them to use the second and third round to find a young corner to mold. David Amerson makes sense because he has the versatility to play corner or safety, both of which New England can be shaky in at times. Knowing the Patriots, finding a suitable vet on the open market makes a lot of sense, as well. One thing is for sure; the Pats main weakness on D continues to be their pass defense, so this can’t go ignored.
The rest of the Pats’ defense mostly needs depth adds. New England should bring in competition for their backup safety jobs, while the team could use another pass-rusher to add to the rotation.
Another concern is the defensive line, where I swear Vince Wilfork is the only guy worth a damn at times. He’s a stud, but he could use a partner in the middle that can help get after the quarterback more consistently. Purdue’s Kawann Short could be the answer here, if the Pats are up for spending their first round pick on a d-lineman. Along with that, New England could use a boost in their pass-rush from the ends, as well.
Patriots fans probably aren’t too happy that their great team keeps coming up short in the playoffs, but they have to find some solace in the fact that they’re reached the Super Bowl more times than any other team in the past decade. The other nice thing is that they literally have a shot at winning it all every year because they draft incredibly well, and their system doesn’t fail very often. The Pats need to make sure they’re okay at wide receiver and from there it’s all about depth and perhaps taking a swing on some raw talents that could turn into gems. Knowing Belichick and co., this will be another successful draft that will lead to another winning season in 2013.