Taking quick position by position look at the Patriots' draft needs in the hours leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft:
Quarterback: Not a need for the Patriots, with back-up quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Mike Kafka providing solid depth as 2nd and 3rd options. However, if Ryan Mallett is dealt, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Patriots target someone to develop late.
Possible Target: Jeff Tuel, Washington State. Tuel has good intangibles, accuracy, and athleticism but lacks arm strength. Could be an option in 7th round or earlier day three if the Patriots stockpile picks.
Possible Target: Jawan Jamison, Rutgers. Undersized, but hard nosed back who is projected to go late and could be a solid developmental option for the Patriots.
Receiver: The most glaring need on the Patriots roster, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see the Patriots double dip here… and do so early.
Possible Target: Robert Woods, USC. If you’re looking for an NFL-ready receiver, Woods, with his elite route running, is that prospect. Could be a target at 29, or in the second round if the Patriots move down.
Tight End: With five talented tight ends on the roster that would make the 53 of most NFL teams, you wouldn’t see this position as a priority to address for New England. However, with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez currently rehabbing from injuries, you never know.
Possible Target: Zach Sudfield, Nevada. Big, strong, talented prospect who could go late due to injury concerns.
Offensive Tackle: The Patriots are solidified for the future with book-ends Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder under contract for multiple years. However, the Patriots could really use a developmental swing tackle to add needed depth at the position.
Possible Target: Reid Fragel, Ohio State. Mid-round prospect who many consider underrated. He’s a TE-convert, and could immediately contribute in goal line packages.
Interior Offensive Line: Not an urgent need, but with Logan Mankins getting older, and Dan Connolly being very average, the Patriots could seek an upgrade here. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Patriots added someone here in the first two rounds.
Possible Target: Brian Schwenke, California. Versatile, tough, athletic. Schwenke could be an intriguing developmental option in the third or fourth round.
Possible Target: Kawann Short, Purdue. Long arms, versatile, and disruptive. He could be the playmaking presence that the Patriots are seeking opposite Vince Wilfork. Could go late 1st or 2nd round.
Defensive End: The Patriots have their two starters for 2013 in Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, but they could still use a pass rush spark, and they could look to a versatile, high draft pick to provide just that.
Possible Target: Datone Jones, UCLA. Jones is a versatile option for could be intriguing for the Patriots at the end of round one with his combination of size, versatility, and playmaking ability behind the line of scrimmage.
Linebacker: The Patriots’ linebacker corps lacks one key straight: coverage ability. Brandon Spikes will also be a free agent after the season, so the Patriots could certainly look to add a coverage linebacker who could develop into an every down threat.
Possible Target: Arthur Brown, Kanas State. Undersized and underrated, but smart, skilled, athletic and productive. He could be a tackling machine and could assist as a coverage linebacker from day one. He could be a target for the Patriots at 29.
Cornerback: Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington are all under contract for 2013. However, the Patriots have had depth issues the past two seasons, and they may be looking to find a long term solution somewhere in the first three rounds.
Possible Target: Jamar Taylor, Boise State. If the Patriots address the receiver position round one, Taylor could be an ideal round two selection. He’s got great instincts and athleticism, and has the skillset to thrive in the Patriots’ off-man coverage schemes.
Safety: The Patriots have more depth here than they have had in recent years with the transition of Devin McCourty to the position, as well as the addition of Adrian Wilson. Nonetheless, with a very deep safety class in this draft, perhaps the Patriots look for a long-term solution to pair opposite McCourty. The Patriots’ decision to potentially invest a high draft pick at this position likely will tie into how the Patriots view 2012 second round selection Tavon Wilson.
Possible Target: Eric Reid, LSU: A possible round two target with intriguing physical traits and proven production who, if he refines his game, could become an excellent long-term compliment to McCourty at the safety spot.