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NFL Draft 2011: The Patriots Will Be Thinking Offensive Tackle at #17.

There is a lot of debate surrounding pick #17. Will the Patriots take an offensive lineman? An outside linebacker? A defensive end? Well, I'm going to try and reason why the Patriots will take an offensive lineman at #17. The other day, I argued why the Patriots won't take any of the outside linebackers in the first round. The outside linebackers with first round grades just don't fit the Patriots and, as a result, won't be selected. My real point in this thread is to say why the Patriots will take an offensive lineman over a defensive end at #17.

Let's look at the situation. The Patriots have picks #17 and #28. This means that the Patriots can have multiple players they want at #17 and there is a chance they will be around at #28. There are 10 players who will be taken between the two picks, which means that the Patriots need to question who are the players that will be taken- and how will that affect who they take at #17.

Here's a list of the teams between 17 and 28, and their draft needs:

18. Chargers - 3-4 DE, OT, OLB

19. Giants - OT, OLB, ILB

20. Buccaneers - 4-3 DE, OLB, CB

21. Chiefs - OT, WR, OLB

22. Colts - OT, DT, QB

23. Eagles - OG, OT, CB

24. Saints - 4-3 DE, DT, OLB

25. Seahawks - OT, OG, QB

26. Ravens - SS, CB

27. Falcons - OT, 4-3 DE, TE

Let's examine what that list means after the jump!

Let's see the breakdown:

3-4 DE - 1 (Chargers)

3-4 OLB - 2 (Chargers, Chiefs)

4-3 DE - 3 (Buccaneers, Saints, Falcons)

4-3 DT - 2 (Colts, Saints)

CB - 3 (Buccaneers, Eagles, Ravens)

OT - 7 (Chargers, Giants, Chiefs, Colts, Eagles, Seahawks, Falcons)

OG - 2 (Eagles, Seahawks)

So what can we see from this chart? I predict that there will be a run on the offensive tackle position between the 17th and 28th draft picks. There are seven teams who are potentially interested in drafting a tackle- you can bet that if one team takes a tackle, the others will make a scramble to get a tackle of their own. There are five main tackle prospects in the draft (Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Nate Solder, and Derek Sherrod) and I believe that one will be take before the Patriots pick at #17. That leaves only four tackles left to share between the eight teams (including the Patriots) who want an offensive tackle.

Now the Patriots have an option and they can use this knowledge to their advantage in two different ways. They can either understand that the tackles will be gone by #28 and draft a tackle at #17 to beat the rush, or they can try and find a team between #17 and #28 who really want a tackle and are willing to overpay to ensure that they can get their top choice of tackle, before the rush begins.

Another factor to see when looking at the chart is the lack of desire for 3-4 DEs. Only the Chargers are in the market for one. That means that if the Patriots are looking at J.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Cameron Jordan, Phil Taylor, and Muhammad Wilkerson at #17, then 4/5 will still be on the board at #28. Because of this, I expect the Patriots to play the market. They understand that they have a near 100% chance of taking their top DE or OT prospect at #17 overall. However, they have a nigh 0% chance of taking the offensive tackle they want at #28; they have an 80% chance of taking the defensive end they want.

Playing the odds, it appears that it's a smart move for the Patriots to be thinking offensive tackle at #17. If they don't take one for themselves, they should at least capitalize on the needs of other teams. The defensive ends will still be around at #28; the tackles will not.

Do you think the Patriots should be thinking OT at #17?