Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 3/10/12

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 27: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on from the sideline during the second quarter of the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Another year completed, and as we did last off-season, we’re all wondering what GM Bill Belichick will do to fix his defense and take some pressure off Tom Brady and the offense. 

The offense had to carry the team more last year and tried to do it not so quickly.  With the defense spending more time on the field last season (31:27 minutes – 27th) than the previous (31:02 minutes – 23rd), the defense needs to find more ways to make stops, especially on 3rd down (they ranked 28th with offense converting 43.1% of the chances). 

The defense ranked near the bottom in yards per game (17th in rushing yards/game and 31st in both pass yards/game and total yards /game).

They did have some successful areas that kept them in games.  They had success in take away margin, (ranked 3rd in the NFL +17), interceptions (ranked 2nd with 23) fumble recoveries (tied for 7th with 11) and in points allowed (13th giving up 342 points). 

They also finished 14th in sacks with 40, with both Andre Carter and Mark Anderson both having 10 each this year (tied for 16th in the league); but when Carter went down, they could not apply enough consistent pressure to disrupt the opponent’s offensive game plan.

The two areas they need to work on is the outside rush in either a DE /OLB  as well as a DB to shut down one side of the field, or at least provide enough coverage for the line to get to the QB.

A player the Patriots would have available to them that would fill the DE/OLB need in the second round (possibly the second pick they have in the round) would be Boise State Shea McClellin.  He was measured at just over 6’6” and 260 lbs, and ran a 40 yard I 4.63 (1st among DE and 6th among LB). 

He is described as relentless and a tireless defender (CBSSports.com).  He has the ability to go straight up the field and change direction (7.07 seconds in the three cone drill), which are attributes the Patriots could use immediately.  He sounds like a perfect fit for this scheme.

Possible other players – OLB Ronnell Lewis – Oklahoma, DE Andre Branch – Clemson and DE Vinny Curry – Marshall

In the secondary, I have been pushing Alabama players S Mark Barron (Barron in my September TWICF article) and CB Dre Kirkpatrick.  After watching the Tide defense last year, these two would fit the bill.

Kirkpatrick could possible fall to the Pats at 27th. Barron did not perform at either the combine or Alabama pro day as he recovers from a double hernia.  This could help the Patriots as he could fall to their 31st pick or second round first pick (48th)

Kirkpatrick has the size (6’2”, 186) to cover the taller players (also had a 35 inch vertical jump at the combine), while Barron (6’1” 213 lbs) is known to play exceptionally well against the run and make you keep your head on a swivel.  

With both playing under Nick Saban, they both have the right abilities to play under Coach Belichick.

Other possible players –FS George Iloka – Boise State, CB Alfonzo Dennard – Nebraska,  or CB Trumaine Johnson - Montana.

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