2011 NFL Draft: Patriots Select Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling at 33rd Overall

In a surprise move, the Patriots opted to stay at the #33 spot in the second round to select Ras-I Dowling, cornerback from Virginia. The Patriots were expected to trade down with a quarterback needy team, but believed that Dowling presented too much value. I believe that the Buffalo Bills had Dowling highly rated and the Patriots could not trade down and still take their player.

The Patriots did not have a workout with the 6-1, 200 lbs Dowling. He was a first round prospect entering his final season, but was hampered by injuries and dropped out of the first round. He was a team captain and, prior to his senior year, was a very healthy player. He's the best zone corner in the draft, which plays well with the Patriots' style of defense and he's a strong tackler. He's everything the Patriots look for in an outside corner- and that's what makes him a surprise selection.

The Patriots have young Devin McCourty to start at one cornerback position and veteran Leigh Bodden starting at the other. However, I believe that Dowling is expected to be the long term replacement for Bodden as Bodden will shift to the slot position. Add in Kyle Arrington and the Patriots have solid depth at cornerback. This also means the Patriots have Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite on the roster bubble since I don't see the Patriots holding six corners on the roster.

Overall, I'm sure some people are disappointed that the Patriots couldn't move #33, but Dowling is the best fit corner for the Patriots defense in the entire draft and would not have been available if the Patriots traded down.

I had Dowling rated as a 2B player due to his injuries, but the Patriots have cleared him (somehow) and that boosts his value. He's a team leader and a great fit on the outside. This means the Patriots still have to determine who will be playing slot corner, but they have plenty of options with McCourty and Bodden both able to play the slot. He's a playmaker who is physical and loves to stop the run. He seems like a great Patriot player.

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