INDIANAPOLIS -- It's official: Following Sunday's Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants, the New England Patriots secured the 31st overall pick in April's NFL draft. The Patriots also have the No. 27 pick via last year's trade with the New Orleans Saints.
Here are some thoughts on New England and the draft:
This is a good position for the Patriots. Having two picks late in the first round provides good value and flexibility. The Patriots nearly won the Super Bowl, but they are still flawed in many areas, particularly on defense. They have the luxury of staying put and using both first rounders to plug some holes, or the Patriots could trade those two picks to move up and get someone they feel is an impact player. Whatever New England decides, I think it would be a mistake to trade out of the first round, which is a Bill Belichick trend the past few years. The Patriots need more difference-makers and can't rely on drafting second and third rounders every year.
In no particular order, I would say a shutdown cornerback, another pass-rusher, a deep threat at receiver, a starting safety and youth on the defensive line are areas New England needs to address. The Patriots can't really go wrong fixing any of these. The Patriots can also use their nearly $20 million in cap room in free agency, as well.
Finally, don't forget that New England also has a pair of second-round picks. This provides two additional chances to land immediate contributors or potential starters. This year's draft is deep, and the Patriots have great capital this ofseason. Having two second-round picks is another reason why New England shouldn't trade out of the first round. The Patriots should use both first-round picks, instead of stockpiling a ton of second- and middle-round picks.