The New England Patriots will once again be picking near the bottom of the first round, which is familiar territory for them based on their consistent on-field success.
Based on team needs and roster composition, this could be a draft in which the team focuses on the line of scrimmage, putting defensive tackle, offensive line and tight end as stronger possibilities with a high-round pick.
Notre Dame has two highly touted prospects along the defensive line in Stephon Tuitt (6-foo-6, 303 pounds) and Louis Nix III (6-3, 340) whose measurables would match up with a Patriots-type prototype.
Elsewhere on defense, it’s hard to imagine the team picking a linebacker with their top selection for a second year in a row after tabbing Jamie Collins with their initial choice in 2013. A defensive back shouldn’t be ruled out, especially if top cornerback Aqib Talib departs in free agency, but that would probably be trumped by a big body up front if everything was equal.
On offense, it seems fair to scratch out running back (often not good first-round value as the Patriots learned with Laurence Maroney in 2006), receiver (they used second- and fourth-round picks on the position in 2013) and quarterback (hello, Tom Brady) with the top pick.
So that leaves the offensive line as a possible target, where someone like Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio or Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin might be of interest. At tight end, North Carolina’s Eric Ebron could be Rob Gronkowski-type insurance if he slipped to the bottom of the first round.
Check out Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft 1.0 to see what players he thinks Patriots should target with their first pick.