Well, the New England Patriots are certainly going to have some interesting decisions to make.
The Patriots have two first-round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft and the initial chance to improve a team that finished with a league-best 14-2 record is with the No. 17 overall selection, one that was acquired in a trade with the Oakland Raiders. Despite what their 2010 record suggests, there are plenty of areas for this team to address after a one-and-done showing the playoffs.
Let's start with the defense and more specifically the defensive line. Injuries are going to be a part of the game, but the Patriots defensive line was ravaged forcing head coach Bill Belichick to plug holes all season long. The Patriots ranked 12th in the AFC in yards allowed, but the stat that matters the most for a defense - points allowed - wasn't as bad where New England was fourth in the conference. The inability to consistently generate pressure on the quarterback, however, helped result in a pass defense that had Houston to thank for not being the worst in the conference.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin's J.J. Watt went to Jacksonville one spot earlier otherwise he would be an ideal fit for New England here at No. 17. The next-best 3-4 defensive end would most likely be Cam Heyward of Ohio State, but he could potentially still be on the board when the Patriots pick again.
To also bolster the pass rush, the Patriots could spend another high draft pick on an outside linebacker to complement last year's second-round pick in Jermaine Cunningham. Again, outside linebacker was a position where Belichick had to be creative just to survive last season as he consistently mixed in different outside rushers to try and generate pressure. Two viable options could be had here in Aldon Smith from Missouri or Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan. Both Smith and Kerrigan could play with their hand down in a 4-3 scheme as an end or come off the edge in the 3-4. Smith is the more athletic, explosive version of the two.
Belichick was masterful on offense last season as he traded away a Hall of Fame-caliber receiver in Randy Moss and totally revamped the offense midseason to take advantage of the athleticism provided by two rookie tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Then again, that's always easier with Tom Brady at quarterback. The line is getting up there in age and leaves something to be desired especially with Pro Bowl right guard Logan Mankins' desire for a big contract and left tackle Matt Light unsigned for next season. There has not been a tackle selected in the Fan Mock Draft yet, so either USC's Tyron Smith or Boston College's Anthony Castonzo could still be had here.
There are reports that the Patriots covet Alabama running back Mark Ingram. The position over the past few years has been done by committee. However, three of their running backs appear headed for retirement. Ingram could be a workhorse in the backfield, something that is not seen a whole lot anymore, being able to stay on the field for all three downs. Again, with the franchise running back not en vogue anymore Ingram could still be had later in the first round when New England picks again.
One competition to watch will be which team trades more on draft day - the Patriots or the Eagles. New England is one of the most active teams in the draft and it would not be a surprise to see them move either this pick or the No. 28 pick. There are some tempting options available here for the Patriots. Which one should they go with? Well, that decision is up to you.
Needs: OLB, DE, OT, RB
All-Good: QB, TE
Previous PicksNo. 1 - Carolina: QB Cam Newton, Auburn
No. 2 - Denver: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
No. 3 - Buffalo: LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
No. 4 - Cincinnati: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
No. 5 - Arizona: WR A.J. Green, Georgia
No. 6 - Cleveland: WR Julio Jones, Alabama
No. 7 - San Francisco: DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
No. 8 - Tennessee: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
No. 9 - Dallas: DE Cameron Jordan, California
No. 10 - Washington: QB Jake Locker, Washington
No. 11 - Houston: CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
No. 12 - Minnesota: DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina
No. 13 - Detroit: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
No. 14 - St. Louis: DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
No. 15 - Miami: QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
No. 16 - Jacksonville: DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin