The NFL lockout has caused many fans to focus on whether or not football will even be played in 2011 rather than the NFL draft. Luckily for fans, the NFL franchises and their staff are not amongst those who have ignored the coming of the inevitable 2011 NFL draft (April 28-30, 2011).
Patriots fans can always count on Belichick to do that but what are the Patriots' biggest needs that should have been addressed in the first round of the draft? Was it their need for talent at defensive end, wide receiver or running back? Should they have targeted a backup quarterback or something else altogether different?
Despite finishing 14-2 last season, the New England Patriots have plenty of needs to fill on the defensive side of the ball. The Patriots struggled with pass-rushing in 2010 and as a result, it is highly possible that the Patriots could try and trade up in the draft.
New England had six picks in the first three rounds of the draft including two first-round picks (17th and 28th overall) and three of the top 33 picks. There had been much discussion on who will be taken with those draft picks and who should be taken. As we all now know, Belichick and the Patriots didn't think the 28th overall pick was worth using to select running back Mark Ingram and so they traded that pick for New Orleans Saints second round pick (56th overall in this years draft) and next years first round pick from the Saints.
What is the most important need for the Patriots to address heading into the NFL Draft?
Ingram, a running back out of Alabama is the No. 1-ranked running back coming out of this year's draft. In 158 rushing attempts last year, Ingram ran for 875 yards (5.54 YPC) and 13 touchdowns. Ingram has put up some pretty big statistical numbers but in stature, he is small. Standing only 5'9", his size would be a concern but his hefty 215-pound build and his explosive running style have calmed some of that distress. Maurice Jones-Drew comes to mind when trying to compare Mark Ingram to a current running back in the NFL; both are determined "stampeders".
Patriots fans are questioning the Patriots decision to not draft Ingram despite their knowledge of his recent knee reconstruction. We can't be certain what will happen on the draft board this year but let's hope the Patriots see things how we do the rest of the way and actually draft some talent to help their 2011 squad instead of always thinking ahead to the future. All the Pats need is a little help. A little help can go a long way.