Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com shares his thoughts on why Bill Belichick may have to take a chance on a high-impact player for the front seven in the upcoming NFL Draft. Reiss looks at the New York Giants decision process for drafting DE Jason Pierre-Paul in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft -- a pick that was considered to be "boom or bust" due to Pierre-Paul's raw yet elite athleticism. Writes Reiss, "The Patriots need more athletes on D, particularly in the front seven, and often times the quickest way to add some of the highest-impact players is to be willing to assume more risk than normally is desired."
Christopher L. Gasper of The Boston Globe writes about the Patriots' need for a game-changing wide receiver. With New England Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio stating that wide receiver is a position of strength in the draft, Gasper believes that this could be the year New England makes a splash in drafting a wideout. He also looks at the Patriots' struggles in drafting a quality wide receiver over the past decade, highlighting struggles since selecting
Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald gives her take on North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Although he comes into the draft with a number of red flags and rumored character issues, Guregian argues that he may be worth the risk on draft day for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
Ian R. Rapoport of The Boston Herald reports on Alambama safety Mark Barron, a player projected to be a first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and someone the Patriots may target this April. Rapoport calls Barron, "A hard-hitting, decisive, communicative player who has played strong and free safety, Barron will be coveted. The link with the Patriots is obvious, as Saban defensive scheme shares many traits with those of coach Bill Belichick."
Christopher Price of WEEI.com gives his final thoughts from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. He gives the names of Georgia center Ben Jones, Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu, Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill, and Mississippi St. defensive lineman Fletcher Cox as playes being attached to the Patriots coming out of Indy. Price also talks about the safety position, Robert Griffin III's impressive combine performance, and a local linebacker looking to make an impact in the NFL Draft.
Jeff Howe of NESN.com discusses the top free-agents at cornerback and calls Chiefs CB Brandon Carr the head of the class. According to Howe, the best fit for New England may be Cortland Finnegan or veteran role player Ronde Barber. "The Patriots probably wouldn't add a starting-caliber corner unless they decided to move (Devin) McCourty to safety," writes Howe.
Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com writes about Illinois' DE Whitney Mercilus after exploding on the college football scene with a 16-sack, 9-forced fumble season last year. Curran discusses Mercilus' comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul due to his raw talent and intriguing athleticism. In explaning his 2011 season at Illinois, Mercilius said, "I was still learning the game. I was still young. I was still a raw talent. I showed signs of life. Showed flashes in games at times, and I just finally was able to put it all together." Mercilus could be a first round target for New England in this year's draft.