New England Patriots Links 4/29/11 - 2011 NFL Draft: Rounds 2 & 3 Tonight - Who's Next?

The 2011 NFL Draft continues tonight with the New England Patriots selecting... ????

Bill Belichick speaks to the media following the first round of the draft Thursday night.

So we went into the day with four picks in the first two rounds and still came out of it that way, so we felt like the trade with New Orleans was a good value relative to the players that we had on the board and what those picks are going to be tomorrow. So that's why we made the trade. And Nate [Solder] was a player that we've been on for a long time. Of course we hired Moses [Cabrera] who was at Colorado last year, so he certainly gave us a little insight into him. Nate has been a solid player for Colorado, [a] left tackle and certainly there are a lot of things that he'll need to do to improve, but I feel like he's a good, talented guy, a hard-working kid, and if he can keep doing that, then I think he'll be able to contribute for us and we'll work him at left tackle. Overall, we're heading into tomorrow with the same number of picks, just located a little bit differently than they were when we started today. Hopefully we can continue to have good quality in the future years as well. So that's where we're at.

Peter King (SI) gives his thoughts on the Patriots selection of OT Nate Solder at 17.

New England: Repeat after me, Patriotland: In Bill We Trust. Nate Solder's not a strike-up-the-band pick, but he's a solid tackle prospect who should form a good long-term combination with Sebastian Vollmer. If you wanted to see the Pats take Mark Ingram instead of deal him for the 56th pick today and next year's one for the Saints, you're not alone. But this draft will have very good rushing prospects down the line between picks 50 and 125.

Cold Hard Football Facts (SI) Patriots first-round Draft analysis.

Nobody throws draft-day curveballs like Bill Belichick, and the Colorado tackle is yet another example. The Patriots fielded the best offensive line in football last year (according to our Offensive Hog Index) and one of the worst defensive fronts in football. The lack of a pass rush has haunted the Patriots for years, including in the 2010 playoff loss to the Jets. It's easily the No. 1 need. But the team must feel vulnerable protecting Tom Brady with OL stalwarts Logan Mankins and Matt Light big free agency question marks.

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