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 draft-day solutions.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Offensive Line
Although the interior line has been New England's biggest offensive weakness in recent years, the Patriots may feel comfortable there letting youngsters Bryan Stork, Jonathan Cooper, Josh Kline, Tre' Jackson, and Shaq Mason compete for playing time under the legendary guidance of Dante Scarnecchia. At tackle, LT Nate Solder has turned in two disappointing seasons in a row. RT Sebastian Vollmer and swing tackle Marcus Cannon are entering contract years.
No. 2 Team Need: Running Back
Father Time remains undefeated, and the Patriots need to be prepared to keep their offense moving should Tom Brady begin showing signs of slippage going on age 39. Dion Lewis is coming off a torn ACL, while New England's current roster lacks a runner capable of consistently grinding out yards between the tackles. Behind Lewis, the depth chart is rounded out by replacement level receiving back James White, special teamer Brandon Bolden, journeyman Donald Brown, and probable camp bodies Tyler Gaffney and Joey Iosefa.
No. 3 Team Need: Defensive Line
New England is flush with left defensive ends; Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, and Chris Long have all spent most of their careers rushing off the left side. The Patriots could surprise with an Early round pick on a weak side edge rusher who possesses the athleticism to give left tackles trouble. Depth is needed on the interior, where Alan Branch turns 32 later this year and 2014 first-round pick Dominique Easley has missed ten games through two NFL seasons. Cornerback is also a need due to depth shortages behind Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan.
Norris' Mock Draft
Round 2 (60): EDGE Yannick Ngakoue, Maryland - The early entry from Maryland has flown under the radar a bit. Ngakoue has a great motor and obvious awareness to know when the quarterback is climbing the pocket, altering his target point accordingly.
Round 2 (61): RB Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech - I absolutely love Kenneth Dixon’s game. Most think he’s a complementary back, and he can absolutely run the wheel routes New England asks of their pass catchers. However, I believe Dixon is much more. He has the skills to be the focal point of a backfield, as he creates yards on his own.
Round 3 (91): CB Cyrus Jones, Alabama - Many teams will view Jones as a slot corner. His 3-cone time will hold up as one of the best in the class at the position, a result the Patriots have looked for in the past. I like Justin Coleman, but this pick would help with depth behind a “starting” corner and add a returner to the roster.
Round 3 (96): T Joe Haeg, North Dakota State - Haeg needs NFL grooming. Physically, he lacks strength to anchor and stop his opponents’ momentum. He would play the utility tackle role early on.
Round 6 (204): FB Dan Vitale, Northwestern - Vitale is one of the more athletic players in this draft, and despite being a fullback, his weakest area might be lead blocking. He’s a very natural receiver from numerous alignments.
Round 6 (208): WR Chris Moore, Cincinnati - One of the best vertical receivers in the draft. The question is if Moore can be… more. We all know the Patriots focus on the short to intermediate game, but they lack a downfield receiver on the roster.
Round 6 (214): CB Morgan Burns, Kansas State - As previously mentioned, the Patriots have a tendency to prioritize 3-cone results. Burns’ 6.60 is the best in the class, and he also stands at 5-foot-10 and 200-pounds.
Round 6 (221): RB Keenan Reynolds, Navy - Everyone is connecting the dots here, especially beat writer Mike Reiss who notes the amount of resources used to evaluate Keenan Reynolds is similar to how the Patriots evaluated Julian Edelman.
Round 7 (243): TE David Morgan, UTSA - A pure blocking tight end who does not project as much of a receiving option. Posted a very good 3-cone (6.93 seconds) for his size of 6-foot-4, 262-pounds.
Round 7 (250): WR Devin Fuller, UCLA - Produced an outstanding pro day workout after registering just 24 catches for 259 yards and three scores in nine games this season
Patriots Current Offensive Depth Chart
QB: Tom Brady
RB: Dion Lewis
WR: Julian Edelman
WR: Danny Amendola
TE: Rob Gronkowski
LT: Nate Solder
LG: Shaq Mason
C: Bryan Stork
RG: Josh Kline
Patriots Current Defensive Depth Chart
RE: Jabaal Sheard
LE: Rob Ninkovich
DT: Malcom Brown
DT: Alan Branch
MLB: Shea McClellin
WLB: Dont'a Hightower
SLB: Jamie Collins
LCB: Malcolm Butler
RCB: Logan Ryan
FS: Devin McCourty
SS: Pat Chung