By Eric Schmidt

The 2012 NFL Draft has wrapped up and this year, for the first time in nine years, the New England Patriots bucked a trend and traded up. New England entered this year’s draft with a full roster of early draft selections as usual but in an uncharacteristic move for head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots moved up in order to draft two players in the first round they needed. New England, the AFC Super Bowl representative last season, needed to add a pass rush to their defense and according most every account I’ve heard and read, mission accomplished.

New England Patriots draft needs- DL, LB, S, RB

New England quietly went about their business in free agency, stockpiling veterans, signing many to minimum contracts while addressing needs on offense. Refusing to pay huge contracts to pass rushing defenders, New England decided to use their plethora of draft selections to move up in the first round and significantly upgrade their front seven virtually overnight. The fresh legs of DE Chandler Jones and ILB Dont’a Hightower in the first round immediately upgrade this quality team.

New England eventually moved back a few times in the draft and wound up with seven selections, focusing six of those on the defensive side of the ball.

In the second round, New England took a corner/safety from Illinois-Tavon Williams. Some draft boards had Williams penciled in at a later round. During the third-round, DE Jake Bequette was tapped. Another spped rusher from the outside that will work well in rotation for the Patriots next season.

New England did not select again until the sixth-round and took DB Nate Ebner from Ohio State. Ebnew and the two selections in the seventh-round will like compete in order to make the special teams roster. CB Alfonzo Dennard and WR Jeremy Ebert were selected 223 and 235th respectively. Dennard has character issues on his resume.

New England Patriots Grade based on Draft needs- A. Four of these players will make the Patriots roster next season with Jones and Hightower bringing a much needed pass rush with fresh legs. A running back is also needed but New England loves aging veterans. I look for Cedric Benson or Ryan Grant to wind up with the Patriots next season.

 

AFC East Draft review-

New York Jets

Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

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