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New England Patriots: Does Signing Marcus Stroud Change 2011 NFL Draft Plans?

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New England Patriots: Does Signing Marcus Stroud Change 2011 NFL Draft Plans?
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are one of the teams that approaches the NFL Draft not on a needs basis, but on a value basis.

Thus, with such a plethora of picks, who the Patriots will draft is anybody's guess.

If the Patriots were planning on drafting a defensive end, signing former Buffalo Bills DT Marcus Stroud to a two-year deal doesn't likely change those plans. Just last year, the team brought on Alge Crumpler in free agency and proceeded to draft two more tight ends in the first four rounds of the draft.

How much does Stroud add to the defense? ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss doesn't seem to think he brings anything more than flexibility and depth to the defensive line. Shortly after the signing was announced, Reiss tweeted, "Those in Buffalo, from media standpoint, felt Stroud had slowed down in 2010. Adds depth and gives team some flexibility heading into draft."

Stroud showed the ability to play defensive end last year in Buffalo's new 3-4 system. Although he only registered three sacks in 15 games, one has to think he could provide some valuable mentorship to young defensive linemen in need of a tutor.

Could it be, then, that signing Stroud indicates that the Patriots are looking to draft a defensive end?

Not necessarily. Pats Propaganda's Mike Dussault points out that the Patriots may simply be taking the necessary measures to fully stock one of the most important positions on the defense, which also happens to be one of the most glaring needs for the Patriots.

It's also important to note, as Dussault mentions, that Gerard Warren is a free agent (whenever the free agency period begins) and that although he looked good to the naked eye, he may be on his way out.

But all of this is merely speculation.

Who am I to think that it's possible to draw conclusions on what the Patriots will do? Bill Belichick really has us drawing straws at this point, trying in vain to guess who he will draft.

You'd probably have better luck playing darts blindfolded.

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