Before I begin my mock, I'd first like to assess the Pats' biggest positional needs in order to give a comprehensive overview of just where the team should focus its attention this coming weekend.
Of course, trying to predict what Bill Belichick will do with his draft picks is often a futile effort, and you may honestly have an easier time trying to get information from officials at Guantanamo Bay than you would from the Patriots brain trust.
Still, there is no doubt that the following positions are great areas of need for the team, and they are ones that must be addressed before the start of the 2013 season.
Yes, everybody knows that Wes Welker—a guy who has more catches than anyone else in the league over the last half-decade and a man who will forever live on in the hearts of Patriot Nation—is no longer with the team. Instead of catching passes from Tom Brady next season, he will instead be working with some other Hall of Fame quarterback named Peyton Manning in Denver.
The team did sign Danny Amendola this offseason in order to offset the loss of good ole' No. 83, and while he may be a viable replacement for Welker in the slot, the overall depth at the wide receiver position is still very poor.
As it stands right now, the seven other receivers besides Amendola that are listed on the team's current roster had a grand total of 104 catches last season—with 102 of them coming from three of those players (Julian Edelman, Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones). Also, gone from last season's roster is Brandon Lloyd, a receiver who, as troubled and emotionally-unstable as he may be, still totaled 74 receptions, 911 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2012.
So, suffice it to say, the Pats need a little more help for Tommy Boy next season—particularly on the outside—if they have any hopes of keeping their perennially vaunted passing attack alive.
The team did a nice job of addressing this position in last year's draft when they selected Chandler Jones with the No. 21 overall pick. Jones had a nice rookie season with the team, during which he recorded 45 total tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles before being hampered by injuries at the end of the season, but he still has much more to prove before the team can feel completely comfortable with him.
Behind Jones and Rob Ninkovich, who led the team with eight sacks last season, the overall depth at the defensive end position is mediocre at best.
The Patriots do have arguably the best nose tackle in the league in Vince Wilfork, but he has been lacking a formidable partner on the interior of the defensive line for quite some time now. Plus, Big Vince will turn 32 next season, and although he is still performing at the highest level that he ever has, the wear and tear that he has accumulated at such a tough and grueling position will soon catch up to him.
The team has already made some nice additions to the defensive line this offseason in Armond Armstead and Tommy Kelly, but adding a young stud early in the draft who can be added to the rotation would behoove the team very well, whether it is on the inside or the outside of the line.
Long regarded as the team's Achilles' heel, the defensive secondary has been one of the Patriots' most glaring weaknesses over the last couple of seasons. Although this unit made great strides last season—especially after the midseason addition of Aqib Talib—they still ended the season as the league's 29th-ranked passing defense.
Fortunately, the team re-signed Talib this offseason, and they also brought in veteran safety and five-time Pro Bowl selection Adrian Wilson to help, but little else was done.
Overall, I am willing to give the makeup of this unit a little more credit than most, as I feel that Talib is truly one of the top cover-corners in the league, and I also believe that Devin McCourty could become a legitimate All-Pro candidate at the safety position.
Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington are also decent No. 2 and No. 3 cornerback options, and this unit looks markedly better overall than it did even just two seasons ago.
Still, adding another corner who could help push Dennard and Arrington would only help, especially with the dearth of talent at the position behind them.
Other areas that should be addressed: offensive line depth, linebacker depth, kick/punt return depth