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Washington's Desmond Trufant
To be clear, the Patriots could go in any number of directions in Round 1 depending on how they wrap up the free agency period.
If, for example, the Patriots bring in Ed Reed at safety, players like Florida’s Matt Elam or Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien probably won’t receive draft-day phone calls from Belichick.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Listed at 6’1” or 6’2”, Rhodes displayed incredible athleticism at the NFL combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds and posting a 40.5” vertical leap. Known for his physical style of play, Rhodes’ blend of size, freakish athletic ability and tenacity on the field has him as the second-best cornerback on most draft boards.
The redshirt junior was named First-Team All-ACC and put up some mind-boggling stats during his senior season.
His three interceptions tied for the team lead and his 10 passes defended led the squad, but what stands out most is his 12-game stretch, culminating in an Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois, during which time he was targeted 47 times (roughly four per game).
Only 13 of those targets resulted in completed passes, for a grand total of 88 yards.
Think about that for a moment.
Over a 12-game span he yielded on average one catch for seven yards.
He’s exactly the type of impact player New England needs in its beleaguered secondary.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Not quite as big as Rhodes, the 6’0” Trufant still brings nice size to the table and actually flashed better speed at the NFL Combine with a 4.38 40-yard dash. He also put up an impressive 16 reps on the bench press.
During Senior Bowl week the younger brother of former first-round pick Marcus Trufant impressed coaches and scouts with his coverage skills and closing speed. He held up well in man coverage and was able to corral Oregon State speedster Marcus Wheaton.
During one exchange, Wheaton jawed with Trufant and rather than take a seat for the next player’s turn, the All Pac-12 cornerback refused to exit and went right back at it. That kind of competitive fire should serve him well as a press corner at the next level.
D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
If Sebastian Vollmer departs via free agency, the Patriots will have a gaping hole at right tackle. Not only would they be forced to start the unproven Marcus Cannon, but they would only have four offensive tackles on the roster.
Fluker would fill that void perfectly.
The massive 6’5”, 339-pound right tackle won two National Championships and would bring much-needed depth and size to a unit that’s thin at the moment. He could be a starter on the line for years, keep Brady upright and help pave the way for the ground game.