NFL Draft 2011: New England Patriots Have Holes To Fill On Defense
New England Patriots Likely to Find Pass Rusher With First of Two Picks in First Round
The only thing worse than a young secondary is an inconsistent pass rush. And unfortunately for the Patriots last season, the two went hand in hand.
Bill Belichick’s starting defensive backfield averaged 24 years of age in 2010, as a bevy of green defenders were often caught out of position, often leading to a number of big days for opposing quarterbacks.
In all, the Patriots surrendered an average of 258 yards through the air, but some of the blame has to be shared by a front seven that produced 36 sacks, good for a modest ranking of 14th.
Are corrections on the way? You can bet they are, especially considering the Patriots have two first-round selections. But they won’t be in the secondary.
As Clark Judge of CBSSports.com notes, the interior of the defensive line is still in good hands with Vince Wilfork and the newly acquired, albeit 33-year-old, Marcus Stroud. But the Pats need someone that instills fear in offensive tackles. Purdue Ryan Kerrigan’s name has been brought up, but questions about his athleticism and ability to play in the space of a 3-4 scheme are still out there.
An option for New England would be to trade its second first-round pick in order to move up to acquire a hybrid type, either Aldon Smith or Von Miller, but the franchise isn’t exactly frugal with its draft picks. Forget that option.
In the end, Kerrigan wouldn’t be a bad selection, but people seem to be higher on Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt or even Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward, both of whom are bigger and more physical at the point of attack and rush the passer well.
For more on the 2011 NFL Draft, visit Bleacher Report’s Draft Hub.
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