Never too early to look to '13 draft

The NFL draft has become a 365-day-a-year process, and ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. has released his midseason preview profiling each NFL's teams needs leading up to the 2013 draft.

As it relates to the Patriots, Kiper pinpoints cornerback, wide receiver and defensive tackle as the team's top emerging needs, and pegs Xavier Rhodes, a cornerback out of Florida State, as the player he believes the team could take if the draft were held tomorrow.

Rhodes, 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, has 25 tackles and two interceptions thus far this season.

The Patriots have struggled to defend the pass again in 2012, but made strides to upgrade the talent in the secondary in acquiring cornerback Aqib Talib at the trade deadline from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team shipped off its fourth-round selection in 2013 in exchange for Talib and a 2013 seventh-round pick, and now holds just five picks in the draft.

To read the piece in its entirety (note: Insider content), click HERE.