2011 NFL Draft: The New England Patriots Are on the Clock with the 17th Pick

Alex BarrettContributor IApril 18, 2011

The Patriots have no concerns at QB for now.
The Patriots have no concerns at QB for now.Elsa/Getty Images

New England Patriots

2010 Record: 14-2 (.875)

Team Needs: OL, LB, DL, WR, RB

The Patriots really have been one of the best franchises front-office wise in recent history. The Pats continually make good trades year after year, dumping aging and repleacable talent for draft picks.

When you do this with teams like Oakland, (Richard Seymour) you tend to end up with two selections in the first round, one at 17 from Oakland and another at 28.

A Patriots draft is almost impossible to predict. Bill Belichick will look at what is available, get whatever he thinks he needs, and then trade away the rest of the picks to be set in the same position next season. I have never really been a fan, but the things this man does on and off the field (aside from cheating) is pure brilliance in working the system.

The Pats, while already in good shape, could use both a decent pass rusher and linebacker. If they decide to utilize both of their picks, they could fill both of these needs.  

There is plenty of available talent at both of these positions. I have no clue in which direction the Patriots will go, but assume they will be active and move around the draft.

 Assuming they keep the 17th pick, why not draft RB Mark Ingram? They have no glaring weaknesses they need to fill that a player in the middle first would be able to alleviate, and Ingram is a huge upgrade over current roster players Dead-Leg Fred Taylor (an almost sure retiree) and the Human Law Firm, Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis.

However, OLB is the biggest concern in my mind, along with the offensive line. With only Jerod Mayo of any use there, and Tully Banta-Cain and Gary Guyton injured, the Pats could have a vicious LB corps if they can add a hard-hitting playmaker to go along with Mayo and sophomore Brandon Spikes.

Aldon Smith may be an interesting pick at the 17-hole, possibly this years' Jason Pierre-Paul as a large DE with some speed. Smith could really help New England in a position where they have a bunch of roster players, but not a bunch of talent.

Interestingly enough, they may choose to wait on a DE and take a player like Ohio State's Cameron Heyward further down the board, enabling the Pats to take another player early.

Perhaps the Patriots will trade that first pick. Plenty of teams need help this year with the lockout blocking free agency. If the Patriots can get a pick next year and a high second round pick in this draft, maybe the Patriots get Heyward late in the first and take care of their WR concerns with Austin Pettis. Pettis is a deep threat to replace Deion Branch and can open the middle for Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.

Tom Brady ... Don't be surprised, Pats fans, if New England takes a QB at some point - It is never too early to groom a replacement a'la Aaron Rodgers ...

Patriots fans, this is the one I can't place very well. Enlighten me below!