The New England Patriots once again fell short in their quest for another Super Bowl in 2012. With the loss of Wes Welker/Brandon Lloyd and holes in the secondary, the Patriots have many needs to fill in the 2013 NFL Draft. Currently, they only have five picks total in the draft, which include three in the first three rounds, so the team must hit on the first few selections. The Patriots traded their fourth, fifth and sixth round draft picks in this year’s draft to acquire Albert Haynesworth, Chad Johnson and Aqib Talib. The team could always look to trade backup quarterback Ryan Mallett to a team that is looking for a starting quarterback in order to acquire more picks in this draft. Another option for the Patriots would be to trade back, like they are notorious for, and acquire extra picks in this draft that is full of deep talent.
WR, RB, CB, DE, DT, OLB, ILB, CB, S
Round One Pick 29: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Although the Patriots signed Danny Amendola after losing Wes Welker, they still need a possession receiver who can help open up the middle of the field for Amendola and their tight ends. DeAndre Hopkins is the perfect fit. He is a very smart receiver who runs great routes and possesses strong hands. Hopkins can be used to help stretch the field as well as give Tom Brady another option in the passing game now that Brandon Lloyd is gone. Hopkins has all the skills and speed to become a solid No. 1 wide receiver for any team and the Patriots could use one to take some of the pressure off of their tight ends in the passing game.
Round Two Pick 59: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Patriots need some youth at the defensive tackle position and Sylvester Williams can provide that for them. Vince Wilfork is getting older and slotting Williams as the other tackle can help slow down opponents in the run game. Adding Williams will make it harder on opponents’ offenses by allowing Chandler Jones and Rob Nikovich more freedom rushing off the end. Williams is a strong interior tackle weighing in just over 310 pounds and can be very disruptive by pushing the offensive lineman into the backfield while opening gaps for the linebackers in the run game. This pick will improve the Patriots run defense and help improve their pass rush as well.
Round 3 Pick 91: Sean Porter, LB, Texas A&M
The Patriots are looking for improvement at linebacker, especially one that can excel in coverage. Sean Porter can provide great coverage as a linebacker along with good pass rushing skills. Porter also brings a very solid football IQ to the game as well which Bill Belichick will love. He does have versatility playing in both 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes. He also possesses good strength that will help succeed in the run game and he isn’t afraid to take on fullbacks in order to slow down the run. He should excel best as a 4-3 weakside linebacker.
Round 7 Pick 226: Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State
While the Patriots have Stephen Gostkowski on the roster, he is due slightly over seven million dollars over the next two years and the Patriots don’t spend that type of money on average kickers. Plus, Gostkowski is only 84.2% for his career which isn’t spectacular. Hopkins can step in on day one and fill in for Gostkowski and provide the Patriots a kicker who is very solid from 40+ yard field goals.
Round 7 Pick 235: Aaron Hester, CB, UCLA
The Patriots finish up their draft selection Aaron Hester who is a cornerback with great size at 6′. Hester has great man-to-man skills and can help the Patriots secondary if they decide to run man. Hester is a corner with great balls skills although he only finished his college career with five total interceptions. He will need to learn to turn his head to face the ball in coverage more but as a seventh round pick, the Patriots land good value with this pick.
While the Patriots weren’t that far away from the Super Bowl last season, they still have a few needs that must be addressed in the upcoming draft. Landing a true No. 1 wide receiver opposite Danny Amendola and some help along with defensive line are the major needs. The wide receiver will help Brady by giving him extra weapons to work with. Landing help on the defensive line will allow their pass rushers to get after opposing quarterbacks and will help their defense improve in the run game.