Let's start with Brian Hoyer. Pats are reportedly shopping him to try and get a second-round pick, so let's assume they get a third round pick.
Let's assume the Pats trade back their second 1st-rounder(to whomever wants to jump infront of the Giants and Colts in selecting a TE) into next year and get a late-2nd round in exchange. Which is great because the Pats will try to trade a 2nd rounder back into 2013, too. How'd you think they got 33rd overall last year?
So the Pats may have a late-1st rounder, a mid-second, let's say a late-second, and maybe two third-rounders.
With approximately twenty million in capspace to spend, the Pats will franchise-tag Wes Welker. Let's hope he deals well with it. It's already being reported and further suggests that the Pats are obviously looking to stock-up in free-agency. They're ridiculously-high in terms of caproom. So let's look at the positions the Pats will look to upgrade;
I think we can assume that Brandon Lloyd is being brought in to upgrade the starting WR corps. They'll probably either try to retain Chad Johnson/Deion Branch at a discount or maybe pickup someone else up, but Lloyd looks destined unless something goes wrong. They'll also draft for this position to build for the future given Welker, Lloyd, Johnson, and Branch are all over 30. I'd like to wait for the combine to get a better feel for 2nd/3rd round targets at WR. Don't be surprised if they once again draft in pairs for their Offense. I can see them going for a WR in the 1st round at 27th on only one condition;
That DT/DE Michael Brockers, DT/DE Fletcher Cox, C Peter Konz, DE/OLB Nick Perry are not available but WR Mohamed Sanu is. The Pats need to upgrade their D-Line outside of the nose-tackle position, where Kyle Love and Vince WIlfork have covered. They need a true 3-4 DE to add some youth after Gerard Warren and Shaun Ellis. It should be noted that Vince Wilfork isn't getting younger, and the Pats need to start building for the future here. The Ron Brace experiment does not look to be going well. If Brockers and Cox are both gone by #27, then I expect the Pats to aim for Jared Crick in the mid-second round. Shaun Ellis and Gerard Warren should be brought back at a reasonable cost given their age. Do you prefer someone else for DT/DE?
Also for the defense, the Pats will continue barnstorming the FA-market. In addition to bringing in another wideout(and drafting one) I suspect the Pats will try snagging a Safety. Wouldn't it be great if we could find a starting-calibre Safety who already worked with a McCourty-twin and is in his prime? We can, but will we get him? The Pats will draft for young talent at the WR corps and the D-Line because of a combination of age and talent, sure, but the DB corps is both young and in need of talent. I could still see them trying to get Markel Martin or Harrison Smith in the late-second round or maybe Chase Minnifield in the mid-2nd round with the Raiders pick but the Pats really I think will try to pick up a starting-calibre vet to play with Chung. Goldston or Griffin, guys? I figure one of them will be a Patriot for 2012.
As for the Center-dilemma, I think it's unlikely that the Pats go looking for a vet. They'll keep Connolly for a little longer. They'll try getting Mike Brewster or Ben Jones somewhere in the 3rd round. If Fletcher Cox and Michael Brockers are both unavailable by the 27th overall but Peter Konz is available, I really believe the Pats would go for him to be the center-piece of a rungame fueled by Shane Vereen(2nd round last year) and Stevan Ridley(3rd round last year). I think in the later-rounds they'll look at Guards as well if someone looks to be of the right talent-level for the pick.
As for Nick Perry, if he's available at 27th but Brockers/Cox/Konz/Sanu are gone then they'll take him. Mark Anderson will be back, and they'll still have Rob Ninkovich, but I won't be surprised if the Pats go for him or another DE/OLB hybrid-type to add depth/talent. Jermaine Cunningham is in for a tough camp.
So to sum up the predictions;
Pats will get WR Brandon Lloyd to play alongside Welker. They'll also get either S Michael Griffin or S Dashon Goldston to upgrade the secondary and probably take a low-cost/high-reward gamble on someone else at another position or three.
Through the draft, let's predict one 1st rounder, two 2nds, two 3rds, and one 4th for New England;
At DT/DE, Pats will try for either Brockers/Cox in the 1st or Jared Crick/Jerel Worthy at mid-second. I think they'll grab one of them or look for someone else in the late-2nd.
At C, Pats will try for either Peter Konz in the 1st or Mike Brewster/Ben Jones in the 3rd. I think they'll grab one of them to at least build O-Line depth but also to see if they can do better than Dan Connolly.
At WR, Pats will try for either Mohamed Sanu in the 1st round or a pair of WRs between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Think it'd be crazy for the Pats to draft two WRs? They drafted two Linemen(Solder, Cannon) and two RBs(Vereen, Ridley) last year and two TEs the year before.
At DB, CB Janoris Jenkins is probably the only prospect the Pats would spend a 1st-rounder for. CB Chase Minnifield at mid-2nd would be a steal. Pats might want to build depth here incase Ras-i-Dowling gets hurt again and McCourty continues to struggle. The late-2nd or early-3rd might be a good place if Harrison Smith or Markel Martin are there but this is mostly-depending on who else is still on the board as it's mostly a 3rd S spot they'd be vying for.
At DE/OLB, it's Nick Perry ar 1st, maybe Andre Branch at mid-2nd, or someone else. I'll have a better feel for mid-range picks after the Combine.
At S, we'll see who's around at late-2nd or 3rd round. Pats aren't going for Mark Barron. Shouldn't a 1st-round Safety show some competence for man-coverage?
What this all means is the Pats are surely going to be stocked and loaded heading into the 2012 season. The Pats are going to have an easy time keeping the talent from the 2011 season and a fun time adding talent where they need it most. No other team looks to be better-positioned than the Pats for the off-season, and I'm not just saying that as a fan. We have a lot to look forward to.
The views expressed in these FanPosts are not necessarily those of the writers or SBNation.