Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Cornerback
After parting with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, the Patriots' current CB depth chart consists of Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, Alfonzo Dennard and a bunch of fringe-roster types. Super Bowl hero Butler may be ready for a bigger role, but the position opposite him will be up for grabs. Coach Bill Belichick prefers to play his cornerbacks in man, creating more flexibility with his front seven. Of course, he needs corners capable of covering man to man in order to pull that off.
No. 2 Team Need: Guard
The Patriots' left guard position was a revolving door in 2014, as Dan Connolly, Jordan Devey and Josh Kline were all tried there. Connolly made the most starts (10), but struggled and has not been re-signed. RG Ryan Wendell is a liability in pass protection. Bill Belichick and OC Josh McDaniels value the ability to play different styles of offense, attacking their opponents' weaknesses. Thus, Patriots linemen must be able to pass and run block proficiently.
No. 3 Team Needs: Defensive tackle
I also think the Patriots could use running back help, but D-Line is needier. While defensive end looks set after the signing of Jabaal Sheard, tackle is in limbo due to Vince Wilfork's departure and 2014 first-round pick Dominique Easley's chronic knee woes. Look for the Patriots to deploy more four-man fronts in 2015, cutting back on their use of 3-4. This would allow them to get Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower on the field together. Regardless of the numbered front, the Patriots could use more interior pass rush to team with Easley and insure against further Easley injuries.
Norris' Mock Draft
Round 1 (32): DT Carl Davis, Iowa - Davis can be disruptive from the interior. With Vince Wilfork gone, I would love to see the Patriots use more quickness up front with Dom Easley playing next to the center. Davis has quick hands and feet to get into the backfield and understands the importance of rotation to stay fresh.
Round 2 (64): CB Byron Jones, UConn - As Doug Kyed notes, Bill Belichick has a history of giving Randy Edsall coached players looks (one year under Edsall at UConn). We are still waiting for his 40 and 10 yard splits, but Jones is one of the freakier athletes at the position. He looked most comfortable while pressing at UConn, however, teams could project his great agility times on to the field.
Round 3 (96): OL Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah - Poutasi played tackle in college on both the right and left side. He is expected to move inside in the NFL. Strength is the foundation of his game.
Round 3 (97): WR Chris Conley, Georgia - We all learned Conley’s name after the Combine. He is an explosive athlete who flashed at the catch point when given the opportunity. Some evaluators might project a much better pro than college career due to the lack of exposures Conley was given in Georgia’s run first offense.
Round 4 (101): RB Mike Davis, South Carolina - I think South Carolina’s bad offense impacted Davis’ play in 2014. Situations can change players just as often (or more) than they regress. Davis is a slightly below average athlete for the position, but he can absolutely pick up the yards blocked for him and even create some on his own.
Round 4 (131): OL Sean Hickey, Syracuse - Another tackle to guard convert. Hickey is an occupier more than a road grader. Assignment sound actually fits his game. Even as a backup, teams like their utility linemen to play multiple positions.
Round 6 (177): WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland - Diggs is not the athlete many believe. Maybe that occurred after his terrible leg injury, but it is true. He is a straight-line player who could make his biggest impact as a returner.
Round 7 (219): TE Rory Anderson, South Carolina - Anderson’s name is being mentioned more and more. He dealt with a torn triceps after spring practice last year. He projects as a receiving option more than an inline target.
Round 7 (253): LB Alani Fua, BYU - Fua is a fascinating player. His best role is in coverage, as he played in the slot and in space much more often than other prospects of his size.
Patriots Current First-Team Offense
QB: Tom Brady
WR: Julian Edelman
WR: Brandon LaFell
WR: Danny Amendola
TE: Rob Gronkowski
LT: Nate Solder
LG: Josh Kline
C: Bryan Stork
RG: Ryan Wendell
Patriots Current First-Team Defense
RE: Chandler Jones
LE: Rob Ninkovich
NT: Sealver Siliga
DT: Dominique Easley
MLB: Jerod Mayo
WLB: Jamie Collins
SLB: Dont'a Hightower
CB: Malcolm Butler
CB: Kyle Arrington
FS: Devin McCourty
SS: Pat Chung