3 themes: Pass rush, big WR, Mankins

Over the course of the offseason, three of the most prevalent themes surrounding the Patriots have been:

1. Pass rush

2. A big-play receiver needed?

3. Logan Mankins

So it was little surprise when Pat Kirwan, one of the favorite NFL analysts at this address, covered all three topics in his review of the Patriots in a piece now posted on NFL.com.

"Great 3-4 defenses, [like] the Pittsburgh Steelers, get 20 sacks from their outside linebackers. The Patriots need help in this area," Kirwan writes. "The bad news for the Patriots is the fact that there really isn't a decent list of potential fits in free agency and they might be stuck manufacturing a pass rush with scheme."

On the wide receiver front, Kirwan falls into the camp that believes the Patriots need a big, deep-threat target.

"The Patriots don't need to bring back Randy Moss or sign Plaxico Burress. Still, they sure would be dangerous with a big-time receiver outside of Wes Welker," he writes.

And finally, Kirwan sets the market for a player of Mankins' caliber.

"Logan Mankins will eventually be gone if he continues to get paid with the franchise tag. The team needs to get him under a long-term deal," he writes. "Take a look at the top guard contracts in the NFL and that means a six- or seven-year deal that averages about $8 million over the first three seasons."