Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 2/17/13
There are opinions galore from all around the league as to what is the greatest position of need for the New England Patriots. But it has been pretty unanimous since last season that the biggest detriment to their Super Bowl hopes was an, at best, lackluster performance by the secondary.There has also been great debate as to just how positive the contribution of mid-season addition Aqib Talib really was on this suspect squad of defensive backs. The Patriots' secondary was continually burned on big plays, and coverage was spotty both inside and outside.An argument could be made that things improved with the addition of Talib, but the move of Devin McCourty to safety also had a positive effect on the defensive unit's overall success against opposing receivers.Other opinions see the offense as an area of need, and this is a legitimate concern. When we consider that Brady could very well lose his best weapon in Wes Welker, it might appear that a slot receiver, or possibly a bigger, faster outside threat would be a position to pursue.Much of this discussion hinges on the ultimate outcome of the contract negotiations between the Patriots front office and Mr. Welker. An additional wild card would be the situation with Donte Stallworth. As is typical of the Patriots organization, there is little to no information available at this point in the process.As things stand at this writing, it is obvious that defense has been the problem for a few seasons running, and it is doubtful that this can be solved in free agency, Ed Reed would certainly be an upgrade over anybody on the field right now, but a long-term option is more favorable to the team this offseason.The Draft is clearly the way to solve the immediate need, as well as the future stability of the secondary. Even if Belichick brings Talib back, the uncertainty of Alphonzo Dennard is now a concern. Best case scenario still says that a cornerback to at least develop and have waiting in the wings is the number one priority.Very good receivers are more likely to be available later in the draft, as I have pointed out previously. Flying under the radar, for now, is Brandon Kaufman from Eastern Washington, a bigger receiver who is able to get down field and provide a tall target for Tom Brady. In my opinion, the Pats should sign Welker. Then a slot receiver is not a need presently.It would be wiser to go after the best cornerback at the 29th position than to take the chance that only mediocre ones are left after day one. Desmond Trufant and Xavier Rhodes are great picks in the first round, but David Amerson and Tharold Simon are tall like Rhodes and deserve consideration as well.It might even be smart to take two of these guys, and save the rest of the picks for other needs, such as receiver and defensive tackle. Belichick was once billed as a defensive genius; let's see if that can be, once again, the case.
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