How will Dennard conviction impact Pats?

It is not known how today's news of Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard being found guilty of a felony will impact his availability for 2013, if at all.

So for now, let's focus on Dennard's role with the team and the impact of his potential absence for any period of time.

Dennard was the Patriots' No. 2 cornerback as a rookie, playing 53.9 percent of the defensive snaps in the regular season. After missing most of training camp with a hamstring injury, in addition to the first four games of the season, Dennard helped the Patriots with his solid cover skills and ability to match up in man coverage. He ultimately bumped Kyle Arrington out of the No. 2 cornerback spot, into the slot.

Thus, Dennard projected as an opening day 2013 starter.

Now, the Patriots don't know if they can count on that. In fact, the entire cornerback position is in flux.

In addition to Dennard's unknown status, Arrington and No. 1 cornerback Aqib Talib are scheduled for unrestricted free agency, creating some big question marks for the team. Perhaps the franchise tag becomes more of a realistic option for Talib this offseason.

This is where some of the missed cornerback draft picks of recent years -- such as Terrence Wheatley (2008 second round), Darius Butler (2009 second round and Ras-I Dowling (2011 second round) -- hurt the team.

Dowling still has a chance to turn things around after two injury-filled seasons, but counting on him has proven to be risky business for the club.

It makes sense to think the team will focus on the position in both the draft and free agency.