The New England Patriots have had a record of 21-3 in the regular season since I did my first Patriots piece for Rant Sports following a tough loss to the Cleveland Browns back in 2010. Congrats to the New York Giants again. While this regular season success is tops in the NFL over the last two sesasons, a 4th Lombardi Trophy would be awesome so people could stop being bias about their teams due to Spygate.
Free Agency Recap
Despite the retirement of left tackle Matt Light the Patriots are stacked. Nate Solder will play left tackle with Kyle Hix as a backup. Marcus Cannon and Sebastian Vulmer will compete for the right tackle job. New England brought in Robert Gallery at left guard as a left guard for depth behind Logan Mankins. Dan Koppen was injured at center last season. Koppen re-signed with New England. Dan Connolly will be used for depth at center and right guard behind Koppen and Brian Waters.
New England added more playmakers on offense. Brandon Lloyd is capable of being a #1 target. Lloyd will be a secondary option next to Welker which should work even better for Lloyd. Branch was an effective #2 target last season. Branch’s job will be easier in the slot. Chad Ochocinco, Anthony Gonzalez, Julian Edelman, and Matt Slater all can be used as playmakers for Tom Brady. Daniel Fells was added as a reserve tight end behind Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernadnez.
On defense New England added Jonathan Fanene. Fanene will compete with Deadrick at left end. Trevor Scott will be used as a left outside linebacker for depth. Bobby Carpenter will be used as a 3rd string linebacker.
New England has Devin McCourty, Kyle Aarington, Ras I Dowling, Sterling Moore, Will Allen, and special teams corner Marquis Cole. The Patriots added Steve Gregory to compete with Sergio Brown for a strong safety job. Patrick Chung will play free safety with a safety for depth being a need.
2012 NFL Draft Needs
Right End/3-4 Right Outside Linebacker The Patriots need a sack artist right end. Andre Branch, Shea McClellin, and Nick Perry are all excellent choices. I won’t criticize New England if they move up for Quinton Coples with Philadelphia at 15.
Defensive Tackle/3-4 Defensive End Kyle Love is starting here with the injury prone Myron Pryor as a backup. A starter could be added here.
Safety Depth New England has one starting safety in Patrick Chung. New England needs a safety to compete with Steve Gregory and Sergio Brown for the starting job.
2012 NFL Draft Strategy
New England needs a right end. That blue chip pass rusher who can command respect from left tackles is the primary need. The secondary need is finding a starting defensive tackle. Kyle Love is a backup that got tendered and Myron Pyror is injury prone. The final need is to find a safety for depth in this really weak safety draft class. New England has 4 draft picks in the first two rounds. Odds are the Patriots trade at some point to move down for more picks.