The Patriots have the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. For now let’s just imagine they don’t trade Matt Cassel for any draft picks. Who should they pick with that 23rd overall pick? Many people say that they should choose a cornerback. However, I disagree.
With Junior Seau and Teddy Bruschi both most likely about to retire after this season, there is a compelling need in the linebacker position. We know the impact Jerod Mayo made this season and there is no doubt that he is going to be more productive as he improves more aspects of his game.
When you look at linebackers in this years draft the names that stick out the most are Curry, Maualuga, and Laurinaitis. But all of those names are going to be gone by the time the Patriots are on the board. One linebacker that I think people aren’t aware of is USC linebacker Brian Cushing.
Cushing is a smart, athletic, physical, player. He is very good in open space and has sideline to sideline speed. He could stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback. He is also very versatile because he can play inside and outside. We all know that’s the kind of players Bill Belichick likes.
Many may argue that we got torched in the secondary this season. But you have to realize that we didn’t put pressure on the quarterback. If you give a quarterback all day to throw the ball then the wide receivers will have more time to get open down the field. We need to fix are linebacking corps because it's getting old and slow.
If you do draft a cornerback with the first round pick then what are you going to do with Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite who we selected in last years draft. Jonathan Wilhite did a pretty good job when he was put into the starting line up later on in the season. He certainly didn’t embrace himself as Deltha O’Neal did almost every game. Remember Jonathan Wilhite was a fourth round draft pick, imagine what Terrence Wheatley would have done if he started. Unfortunately he ended the season in injured reserve.
I really think if you give Jonathan Wilhite a chance he would become a star. Remember Asante Samuel was a fourth round draft pick. He didn’t do well in terms of interceptions his first two years. But he was given the chance to play and we all know what happened after that, he became a superstar and on of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
Cushing is a really good player. And I think the Patriots would be making a mistake not to draft him.