2010 NFL Mock Draft, Fans' Picks Edition: No. 22 - New England Patriots
The Patriots had a pretty clear blueprint for what they wanted to do this offseason. Part one hinged on keeping their own free agents from leaving town, and part two was based on making the most of having four of the first 53 picks in the draft. They accomplished part one and even added tight end Alge Crumpler, which leaves part two as their only unfinished business.
With all of those picks in the early part of the selection process, it isn't hard to see the Patriots wheeling and dealing their way into just about any spot in the first couple of rounds to guarantee themselves the players that they want. Their history says that those players will be evaluated on value and talent first and need second, but there's no question that the Pats have some positional needs that must be filled.
The first would be a pass rusher, either off the defensive end or from the outside linebacker spot. Tully Banta-Cain's return was nice, but he isn't enough to strike serious fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks. With the arrival of Brandon Marshall and Santonio Holmes in the AFC East this week, that fear is going to be absolutely crucial for the survival of the Patriots defense.
That leads us to the cornerback spot. You can never have enough good corners and that's doubly true when names like that are popping up all over your schedule. The Patriots could also use a running back who stops the revolving door in the backfield, although one wonders if they find it so problematic that they'd spend a first-round pick to change the situation. And, finally, there's the loss to injury of Wes Welker and the need to add a weapon for Tom Brady to play with on offense.
Previous Pick: Bengals -- Taylor Mays, S, USC; Next Up: Packers
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Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas: The biggest need at linebacker for the Patriots is for help in the pass rush, but Bill Belichick isn't going to settle for a player who can only get after the quarterback. Kindle is versatile enough to help in every defensive area, something that could wind up pushing him ahead of other players who profile as quarterback killers.
Everson Griffen, DE, USC: Griffen has every skill the Patriots would be looking for on defense.The issue might be how he fits in the Patriots scheme which, while flexible, is still a 3-4 at its base. Griffen might be too small to play defensive end on every down and he might not have as much versatility as Kindle as a linebacker. That said, his athletic ability is undeniable and the Pats would find a way to deploy it effectively.
Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU: The worst run-stopper of the three hybrid options, Hughes might also be the best pass rusher of the lot. We said Belichick loves versatility but he'd give it up for a special player who could put some teeth into his defense. He might see that in Hughes.
Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State: Offers less pass rushing upside than the three men who precede him, but Odrick is a natural fit at defensive end in the 3-4. He'd also be able to slide inside in some of the more exotic packages Belichick dreams up and he's got the kind of relentless approach to the game that coaches often fall in love with.
Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State: Matthews can run, catch and block, which means he'd be able to be on the field for every Patriots snap. The question isn't his talent, but whether or not Belichick will spend so much capital on a player at this position.
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma: Yes, the Pats signed Crumpler and, yes, Greshem is coming off of an injury, but Belichick likes to throw to tight ends and he's picked two of them in the first round in the past. His combination of size, speed and hands would make him an intriguing, if completely different, candidate for Welker's role.
Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama: Jackson would help with the improved passing offenses that would come calling on the Patriots this fall and winter. He flashed great anticipation, good hands and a willingness to get his nose dirty during college. Those three traits would serve him well in Belichick's defense.