The waiting is almost over as the draft is set to kick off on Thursday in Nashville, so it's time for all of the prep work and film study to be put to use. The Patriots have some holes to fill on the roster despite their position as reigning Super Bowl champions, but which one will it be?
There are some pressing needs to be sure including tight end and wide receiver, but other spots like the defensive line are said to be quite deep in this particular class. And of course there's the seemingly never-ending debate over when the Patriots should target the quarterback position in an effort to find Tom Brady's successor.
So with all that in mind we'll try our best to figure it all out. This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is simple: What position should the Patriots target in the first round?
PFW's Andy Hart says…
Anytime you lose a player like Rob Gronkowski tight end has to qualify as the biggest need. Coupled with Gronk's departure is the fact that the Patriots don't really have any proven options waiting behind him. The team signed veteran Austin Seferian-Jenkins but clearly Bill Belichick needs to more in order to continue producing on offense.
Tight end has to be the pick and fortunately that's a position with a lot of options. To me it's all about Iowa's T.J. Hockenson. He's as close to Gronk as a prospect has been in years with his ability to work as both a receiver and a blocker. Obviously he's not anywhere near as athletic and talented, but nobody is and Hockenson at least has the characteristics to fill that kind of versatile role.
Hockenson won't be easy to draft – some mocks have him going as high as the top 10 – but the Patriots have the capital to trade up to get him. There will never be another Gronk, but having a young, versatile tight end like Hockenson would fill the Patriots biggest need.
PFW's Paul Perillo says …
This is a tough call for me between tight end and wide receiver, but the need for a young target for Tom Brady tops my list. The Patriots have had trouble finding receivers with the ability to play on the outside for years, and the inability to draft them has left the depth chart quite thin. It's time to change that.
I feel Bill Belichick should take two wide receivers among the top six picks as there are several quality options to choose from. There may not be a surefire star in this class, but with N'Keal Harry, Deebo Samuel, Hakeem Butler, Miles Boykin, Mecole Hardman and many others to choose from there should be some quality options.
I like Samuel and Boykin in particular and would be excited to see some youth added to the corps of options for Brady to use. The offense will transition this season with the loss of Gronk, who provided so much to the attack over the year. It's time to do that with some hungry young athletes catching the passes to help out Julian Edelman.
It's time to break the trend and go after some wideouts early in the draft.