It's obvious that a pass rush is the biggest need to this point in the season. NE's D hasn't be able to consistently get pressure on the QB (28th in sacks to this point) which has has allowed most QB's to throw at will and pick apart the NE secondary.
With that being said, below is a list of their needs followed by my projection of how the draft may go based on what I've watched and read. I understand that it's early and we don't know 100% who will declare or how they will test out but here we go:
**Players who can get after the QB, pressure the pocket and make plays behind the line of scrimage!
**A consistent third receiver who can take some pressure of Moss/Welker. Aiken has been decent in spurts, but IMO he's certainly not the answer. Brandon Tate has talent, but he hasn't caught a lot of balls in his college/pro career, he may be better suited as a return guy who can make some plays at WR.
**A big, tough, between the tackles sledgehammer type back that can move the chains and wear down opposing defenses a la Dillon/Smith.
** Some OL Depth
**An athletic TE who can make some plays, possibly stretch the seam.
Rd 1 (Assigned) - Jerry Hughes- 6-3 257/OLB/TCU-
|Safe to say that NE's pass rush is non-existent. Hughes would be a huge upgrade to their roster with 26 sacks and over 30 tackles for loss the past 2 years. He's an undersized DE, but would seem to be a natural fit as a 3-4 OLB (I believe they'll move back to a 3-4 base if they have the needed talent) as he has 3 career INT's with experience rushing the passer standing up. He's an instictive player, who plays with a great deal of intensity, has a good burst off the edge and will play to the whistle. He also plays on special teams and you know BB loves to play his starters there. Tough and productive with good intangibles. If Rolando McClain (ILB Alabama) slips, he's the guy. Also keep an eye on Terrence Cody (DT Alabama).|
Rd 2 (From Titans) - Greg Romeus 6-5 270/DE/Pitt-
|Would be another boost to the non-existent pass rush. He has similar size to Big Willie which would allow him to set the edge, also appears to have the athleticism to rush standing up or in a 3 point stance. He was Co-Big East Defensive Player of the year in the Big East and shown a good ability to get after the QB and make plays in the back field (19 sacks and 27 TFL in his career). He's a junior, but I think he'll declare, again, just my opinion. He could also be an option in Rd 1.|
Rd 2 (From Jax) - Golden Tate 5-11 195/WR/ND-
|Simply, teams knew he was getting the ball and still couldn't stop him. He’s a tough, athletic, productive, big play receiver whose gets a lot of YAC and has a ton of versatility. He can also be utilized on running plays (came to ND as a RB) and has experience running the wild cat. He plays in a Charlie Weis offense, so the ramp up time should be accelerated. He'd represent the #3 receiver that is sorely needed to take pressure off Moss and Welker. Eric Decker (Minnesota) is another possibility. He has already declared for the 2010 draft.|
Rd 2 (Assigned)- Mike Johnson 6-5 300/OL/Alabama-
|27 career starts at 4 positions across the OL, primarily at left guard and right tackle. Personally I think Mankins is gone after the year so Johnson could be his replacement. He has the Saban connection, plays in the SEC and you know BB loves versatility. Matt Tennant (C/OG 6-4 291 Boston College) is another option, as a toucgh, consistent player with 28 consecutive starts, BC has a good track record of producing OL, look no further than Dan Koppen.|
Rd 4 (Assigned)- Charles Scott 6-0 235/RB/LSU-
|The big, tough, between the tackles sledgehammer that can wear down opposing defenses that they've been missing since Dillon/Smith. He's been a productive player in the toughest conference in America (SEC). Jonathan Dwyer (Georgia Tech) could be an option in rd 1 if he slips or Ryan Mathews (Fresno State) in round 2. They may also look to pick up anothe QB, if that's the case Sean Canfield (6-4 215 Oregon State) is a good possibility. He has good size, a good arm, good pocket presence and is smart with the football (21 TD vs 6 INT this year in 406 attempts).|
Rd 6- (Assigned)- Jimmy Graham 6-8 260/TE/Miami-
|Former UM basketball player who joined the football team for the 2009 season. He's extremely raw, but has excellent athleticism. He had 14 Rec for 185 yrdas and 5 TD's on the year.|