In the first of an eight-part series, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com's "Around the League" blog examines each AFC East team's needs leading into the NFL draft, while also offering possible prospects to address said needs.
For the Patriots, Rosenthal pegs defensive end as the top need at this juncture, with other spots to fill as receiver, cornerback, guard and defensive tackle.
The Patriots need pass rushers and secondary help. Of course, that these will be team needs in New England is as reliable an occurrence as Bill Belichick saying after every loss that the other team "out-played us and out-coached us."
The good news for Patriots fans: The team isn't quite as desperate at those spots as it has been in years past. Chandler Jones is a foundation-type defensive end; adding one more situational pass rusher to join Rob Ninkovich could make the position strong. Cornerback and strong safety lack reliable long-term solutions, but the positions are deeper.
As it relates to potential prospects who fit, Rosenthal highlights wide receiver Markus Wheaton of Oregon State, cornerback Desmond Trufant of Washington, defensive end Datone Jones of UCLA and safety John Cyprien of Florida International.
If the Patriots are to address defensive end in the first round, it will mark the second time they will have taken a player at the position in as many years. While Chandler Jones is firmly entrenched as a defensive building block on one side of the line, the team may be looking to add more pass rushing presence in the draft. Rob Ninkovich is one of the team's most reliable defensive players, although he enters the final year of his contract in 2013.
To see Rosenthal's full AFC East report, CLICK HERE.