Though the New England Patriots are still in the middle of a Super Bowl hunt, their scouting staffs will surely be keeping a close eye on all the bowl game action and keeping tabs on potential fits that the team might want to select in April.
In putting together this list of 10 players we started with the basic premise of these being the Patriots' top-five needs:
1. Defensive Tackle—The Patriots are a game plan team but the one tool they lack in their toolbox is an up-the-field penetrating defensive tackle. This is one area where they could stand to improve, especially because of the impact it could have on the pass rush. But even further, Vince Wilfork needs some help. Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick and Ron Brace are all okay, but a young tough presence next to Wilfork could really make the whole defense better.
2. Wide Receiver—The Patriots' struggles in drafting and developing wide receivers is well documented. In Bill Belichick's time with the team they've really only hit on Deion Branch and David Givens. Every other impact wide receiver has been a free-agent acquisition. Now there's a good chance they'll have to replace Wes Welker. So whether it's a slot receiver or a bigger physical receiver on the outside, the Pats could definitely use a receiver.
3. Guard/Center—While Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald have all be solid on the interior line this year, the jury is still out if any of them are truly long-term solutions there. And who knows if injuries are going to start to be a thing with Logan Mankins as they have been the last two seasons.
4. Cornerback—You can never have too many corners and with Aqib Talib questionable to be back, Ras-I Dowling's continuing injury issues, and Kyle Arrington's contract up at the end of this season, there are some question marks.
5. Safety—It seems like Devin McCourty should be an answer at one of the safety spots for the future, but the jury is still out on Tavon Wilson, or whether Patrick Chung will be brought back. Steve Gregory has shown flashes but the Pats couldn't pass up a talented young playmaker for the back end of their defense if one was available.
Here are some prospects that seem like they could fit what the Pats will need next off-season.