I think New England's a candidate for the fifth straight draft to take a corner in the top two rounds ... The hip rehab of New England cornerback Ras-I Dowling is going very well. He'll be ready for most if not all of his offseason work
While this isn't exactly a detailed update, it's definitely a positive sign. When the Patriots selected Dowling with the 33rd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, there was no question that Dowling was a first round question. The issue surrounding Dowling was his health. During his time at Virginia, Dowling suffered a myriad of different injuries and struggled to consistently stay on the field.
During his rookie campaign with the Patriots, Dowling started off well. He allowed just three receptions (target seven times) in 93 total snaps played in two games before the injury. He looked like he was going to be a full-time starter as a rookie - which is usually a very solid sign.
Unfortunately, Dowling's sample size is so small that it's hard to project where he might fit with the Patriots in 2012 and beyond. That being said, I still believe he is a potential starter next year. If he's healthy, a cornerback rotation of Dowling, Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, and Sterling Moore is really solid. At this point, however, that's a pretty big "if" for Dowling. If the Patriots don't think they can rely on Dowling staying healthy in the near future, then, as Peter King suggests, the team could look to address the cornerback position early in April's draft.