Imagine what 2011 could have been for the New England Patriots if they had a stronger secondary. For starters, they most likely wouldn’t have had to watch Eli Manning lift that trophy again.
Argue all you want – the secondary of the Patriots was simply not good enough last year. Yes, they were decimated by injuries throughout the regular season and that didn’t help their cause.
Still, nearly 300 yards per game allowed at 8.0 yards per play for 26 touchdowns and a league-high 20-yard completions allowed?
The Pats’ secondary can definitely improve for next year and the 2012 NFL Draft is a perfect opportunity to do so. While players like Morris Claiborne and Janoris Jenkins will already have been selected by the time New England is on the clock, defence will be the overriding force on the team’s minds.
Players like Stephon Gilmore, Jamell Fleming, Mark Barron, Alfonzo Dennard and George Iloka may well find themselves under the microscope of the Patriots by the time they are on the clock – especially considering they have two late first-round picks this year.
While New England will be sure to take a linebacker somewhere along the line – most likely Dont’a Hightower – as well as boost their stock in other positions, I fully expect the focus of the draft to take place in the secondary. In fact, I would be amazed if New England didn’t select two or more players to boost their biggest weakness in 2011.
Brandon Boykin, Aaron Henry and Harrison Smith are all players that could be great finds for the Patriots in later rounds, and we must remember the history of this franchise and incredible finds throughout the later picks in the draft.
Taking nothing away from the likes of Patrick Chung, Sterling Moore and Sergio Brown, but the 2012 NFL Draft should see the New England Patriots vastly improve their secondary. We may even be fortunate enough to witness one of their rookie stars see some serious game time in 2012-13.
We have no idea what’s going to happen in the draft for teams with lower picks, because it’s often about taking the best player left when your turn comes around.
However, it would be hard to see the New England Patriots ignoring the golden opportunity to rectify their secondary and make it far tougher for teams to score.
If they can come two-feet away from taking home Super Bowl XLVI with the secondary they had this year, imagine what next year may hold for the red, white and blue.