New England Patriots Links 5/01/12 - 2012 NFL Draft: Rich Get Richer

The Patriots maintain elite status despite consistently drafting in the lower end of the first round each year.

Mike Freeman (CBS Sports) NFL Draft highlights brainpower gap between haves, have-nots.

Entering this draft the Patriots and Giants were the best teams in football. Leaving this draft, the Patriots and Giants are the best teams in football. They only got stronger. That's because they know what the hell they're doing. The Patriots' defense last season was like something from a sitcom. So what does Bill Belichick do? He drafts a quartet of defensive players in the first three rounds. Imagine if even half of them catch on. The Patriots went to a Super Bowl with no defense. What happens if they get one?

Jason Cole (Yahoo! Sports) 2012 Draft Grades - New England Patriots: Grade A.

Analysis: Anybody who watched the Patriots' defense last season knows they were extraordinarily lucky to reach the Super Bowl. It might have been the second-worst overall defensive unit to get to the Super Bowl. To that end, Patriots coach Bill Belichick went defense, defense, defense and more defense in this draft. He also traded up twice in the first round to nab two terrific athletes to plug into the front seven. Jones is a great pass rusher and Hightower is versatile enough to play inside linebacker and defensive end (a rarity).

Alex Marvez (Fox Sports) Breaking down the Draft picks team by team: New England Patriots.

What was addressed: The NFL’s 31st-ranked defense in 2011. After relying on free-agent pickups the past few years to provide the pass rush, the Patriots traded up in the first round to select Syracuse DE Chandler Jones. New England’s next five picks were all used on defensive players as well, highlighted by inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower (first round) and cornerback/free safety Tavon Wilson (second).

What wasn’t addressed: The offense, but it’s not like the Patriots were hurting on that side of the football. Northwestern wide receiver Jeremy Ebert (seventh) was the only offensive player tabbed. Knowing the Patriots, Ebert may someday get a look at playing defensive back as well a la Julian Edelman.

What’s next: Recovering from the sting of losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. There is a psychological toll that comes with making it so far only to come up short. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick must help his players wipe the slate clean as New England tries to become the first franchise since Buffalo in the mid-1990s to return to the Super Bowl the season after losing in the title game.

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