Adam Schefter says that at least half of the teams in the first half of the first round want to trade down and two teams including the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons are willing to move up. I make this point to tell you to not waste your time listening to the "experts" about which player NFL teams will draft. When it comes to being outside the first few picks, it is nearly impossible to tell who will be drafted and where. So instead of Kiper or McShay's big boards, just let me tell you the areas of need for the Patriots and a few of the top prospects.
My number one need for the Patriots will obviously focus on defense and, more specifically, the coverage linebacker. As far as this draft goes, the general consensus is that this draft-class is thin at a lot of positions, but packed-full of good, solid linebackers. The Patriots defense has been in need of a coverage linebacker since Tedy Bruschi left. A team with a sub-par tight end can shred the Patriots all the way down the field and I have seen it often enough for this to be the number one priority for the Patriots this draft.
Number 3: Alec Ogletree out of Georgia: The reason I am intrigued in Ogletree is because he was a former safety in college and so that knowledge of coverage could come in handy for the kind of job we need him to do on the Patriots. Ogletree has played his college ball in a 3-4 defense and has extreme athleticism that allows him to plug gaps in the running game while also making game changing plays in the pass game. The 6'3, 234 pound Ogletree posted 111 tackles last season and made 12 plays behind the line. The reason he isn't higher on my list is because he lacks experience since he's only a sophomore and because he's not great at blitzing the quarterback. However, I am willing to give up a little in the blitzing department to have someone that can cover an NFL tight end.
Number 2: Sean Porter out of Texas A&M: Porter is an interesting case because though he is a little bit smaller than Ogletree, he seems to make up for it with better athleticism. Porter is higher on my list because he has way more experience (being a senior) and because of his ability to rush the quarterback. His junior season in college, he recorded 17 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 9.5 of those were sacks. He dropped off his senior year, but he has a motor and, more importantly, the ability to cover. He's ideal for the 4-3 defense, but also played a little bit in the 3-4 as well. That versatility is something Belichick salivates over. Whether or not he posts 9.5 sacks per season is irrelevant to me because I am much more interested in coverage skills. I think the sack numbers his junior year were a bit inflated which makes him my number two.
Number 1: Khaseem Greene: Greene is a name that floats out there as one of the most versatile linebacker's in this year's draft. He's not the biggest or the fastest guy out there, but according to all accounts he has that ability to make plays. Also a former safety, Greene is able to decipher patterns and cover tight ends and running backs. His junior year he posted 141 tackles and his senior year he posted 136. That is consistent and numbers that are consistent lead you to believe that is the type of player he is. He leads the list at linebackers because of his two interceptions and eight passes knocked down. He forced eight fumbles and he's just a natural at the position. Numbers that are consistent don't lie and this kid could be special.
Though the draft-class may be thin, you still have to have a draft and these players can make an instant impact in the Patriots pass defense. Running backs and tight ends killed them last season as much as any wide receiver. You can't get much worse than the Patriots pass defense the last few years and I believe a solid coverage linebacker and a continuing cohesion between the players in the secondary, they can start to move in the right direction.