As we head into the offseason, one of the primary points of analysis figures to be matching team needs with available talent, particularly in the draft.
Many seem to be in agreement that the Patriots could use help at pass rusher, defensive line and offensive line.
The areas where I sense the most varied opinion among analysts and Patriots followers are at running back and receiver.
ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both gave the Patriots a running back with the 28th selection in the first round. One line of thinking is that BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead are a solid 1-2 combination, but the chance to add another top talent is necessary because few teams can get by with just two backs. The flip side is that solid running backs are often available beyond the first round; consider that the NFL's leading rusher in 2010, the Texans' Arian Foster, entered the league as a rookie free agent.
Meanwhile, the Patriots' offensive struggles against the Jets in the playoffs have some -- such as respected NFL.com analyst Mike Lombardi -- writing that the team needs another outside receiver. The Patriots have Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman and Taylor Price all returning in 2011, so it's a stocked depth chart. One factor to consider is that Branch and Welker enter the last year of their contracts.
I could go either way on the running back, depending which way the draft board fell. I'd be less aggressive with the receiver position early in the draft -- looking at the Patriots' overall body of offensive work and not just the playoff loss -- and focus on other needs.