Round Table: Biggest Off-Season Need

What is the biggest offseason need for the Patriots?

Stephen:  Pass rushers are at a premium and with four picks in the top two rounds of the 2011 Draft, the Patriots need to add an impact pass rusher. While Tully Banta-Cain has some ability to put pressure on the quarterback, he is a third-down specialist at best. Rookie Jermaine Cunningham showed flashes, but he needs to learn to finish the play and continue to learn to play standing up. Cunningham seems to be more of a solid do-it-all type, but he would benefit greatly from having a true sack artist playing the other outside spot.The defensive line could also use an infusion of talent as besides Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork and Ron Brace, none of the current defensive linemen were drafted higher than the sixth round by the Patriots. The reason the Patriots had so much success earlier in the decade can be attributed to strong play from the front seven. To get back to that level of play, the linebackers and defensive line need a significant upgrade in talent.

Derek:  I’m going to stray a bit from the conventional here, and say that the biggest need for the Patriots is to develop an area where they are truly dominant.  After the Moss trade, the Patriots were hailed for being “balanced”.   They had no real weak point.  However, as we unfortunately found out against the Jets, they also had no strong suit to hang their hats on when the going got rough.  I would love to see the Patriots do something similar to when they brought in Moss and Welker and developed a receiving corps that seemed unstoppable.  I would love to see Belichick make a big move that will leave our opponents head spinning.

That big move could be paring Devin McCourty with free-agent Nnamdi Asomugha to create an impenetrable pair of corners, or could be using a couple of our draft picks to land Larry Fitzgerald and give Brady a bonafide top-tier receiver again.  Either way, with Brady’s clock ticking, I’d rather see the Patriots make a bold move made now, vs. relying almost entirely on our hoard of draft picks to gradually develop into stars.

Rick:  The biggest offseason need for the Patriots is to improve the defense, particularly in the pass rush. Yes, I wrote an article that Nnamdi Asomugha was essential for the Patriots in the secondary. But, even with the star cornerback, you still need to establish a pass rush. New England’s pressure is improving, but it is not at the optimum level of the championship defenses. Now, New England can look to free agency (LB David Harris, LB Lamar Woodley) or use the bulk of their draft to address the defense. This is a draft filled with pass rushers and defensive linemen which could get them an impact player that can come in and contribute now and also apply much needed depth that they surely missed down the stretch of the season.

Jason:   Pass rushers are at a premium and with four picks in the top two rounds of the 2011 Draft, the Patriots need to add an impact pass rusher. While Tully-Banta Cain has some ability to put pressure on the quarterback, he is a third-down specialist at best. Rookie Jermaine Cunningham showed flashes, but he needs to learn to finish the play and continue to learn to play standing up. Cunningham seems to be more of a solid do-it-all type, but he would benefit greatly from having a true sack artist playing the other outside spot.The defensive line could also use an infusion of talent as besides Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork and Ron Brace, none of the current defensive linemen were drafted higher than the sixth round by the Patriots. The reason the Patriots had so much success earlier in the decade can be attributed to strong play from the front seven. To get back to that level of play, the linebackers and defensive line need a significant upgrade in talent.

Derek Hanson

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.

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