I'll be writing here about the Patriots draft options leading up to the 2009 NFL Draft. Currently the Patriots draft 23rd overall. They have two second round picks, the first coming from the Chargers from a draft day trade last year. Their second round picks are 58th overall and 47th overall. They also hold their own third round pick which is the 89th overall pick. They have one pick in each round 4-7. Additionally, the Patriots figure to get some additional help from the NFL with compensatory picks for free agents the team lost prior to last season. Notably, the loss of Asante Samuel, a Pro-Bowl CB, will likely reward the Patriots with either a 3rd or 4th round selection. That compensatory pick will come at the end of the round, and cannot be traded.
The Patriots needs, in order of priority, are:
The need for a CB is clear cut. Although the team does have starting CB Ellis Hobbs returning, and they look to get last year's second round pick Tyrone Wheatley back from injury, improving CB play is critical to improving the Pats defense.
At ILB, the need may be lessened if the Pats think they have a keeper in Gary Guyton, who saw a lot of playing time as a rookie. One ILB position has been solidified for the forseeable future with Jerod Mayo, but the other position remains a question mark with the aging Tedy Bruschi and the rookie Guyton. Another option would be to move Mike Vrabel inside, where he's played before. Vrabel has more value on the outside, but the Pats have depth at OLB with Thomas, Woods, and Crable all returning from injuries. Woods is a restricted free agent.
For most of the season the Pats only kept two TEs on the gameday roster. Ben Watson and David Thomas are decent TEs, but with Watson's contract expiring after the 2009 season, the Pats will surely look to develop another TE this season. Watson hasn't performed well enough to earn a big contract from the Patriots, so 2009 is likely his last season with the team.
Safety is a question mark. Merriweather has developed into a starter on one side, but the other side is in flux. It's unknown whether Harrison will return, and even so, with his recent injury history depth is a must. James Sanders, who has played well, is a free agent.
I put D-Line 5th because I think Bellichick believes you can never have enough big D-Linemen. Plus the Patriots have both Wilfork and Seymour scheduled for free agency after the 2009 season. Drafting a D-Lineman this year would add depth behind the superb starting 3, plus provide insurance if the Pats can't keep both Seymour and Wilfork after the 2009 season.