Going into the draft, the Patriots will most likely be drafting a slot corner (nickelback). They already have plenty of depth on the outsides with Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, Kyle Arrington, and Darius Butler. Jonathan Wilhite is the primary slot corner and he's not instilling fear into any offense. Brandon Harris is the only corner with slot experience, but he reminds me of Darius Butler- so maybe Butler should get some pre-season experience in the slot. While none of these players are fit for the slot with the Patriots, Jimmy Smith is my favorite as the most NFL ready corner who can immediately step on the field and shut down an opposing receiver.
Let's look at some additional slot prospects after the jump!
Davon House, New Mexico - Solid tackler who can help stop the run, two qualities necessary in a slot corner. However, he has questionable reaction time, which is a poor quality in a slot corner. [2nd-3rd round]
Curtis Brown, Texas - Has a very solid skill set: aggressive against the run, solid reaction time, great closing speed. Has #2 corner upside. He needs to improve his technique if he wants to get better. [3rd round]
Johnny Patrick, Louisville - Solid skill set for a slot corner, but he has character concerns. Has #2 corner upside. [3rd-4th round]
Jalil Brown, Colorado - Seems to be a favorite of scouts, but was picked on all year at corner while playing across from Jimmy Smith. [4th-5th round]
Buster Skrine, UT Chattanooga - Best 3 cone in the combine, able to stick the hip in the slot. Not fit to be a #2 corner so he'll be drafted to be a slot for his whole career. [5th-6th round]
This draft seems to be plentiful in mid-late round prospects with reasonable upside. When looking for a slot corner, the prospect must have a high 3 cone time to show that they can shadow a shifty receiver. Some of the top prospects (Patrick) have iffy pasts, while others (Skrine) have questionable skill sets. If the Patriots were to take a cornerback in the draft, my favorite would be Curtis Brown out of Texas. He seems to have the skill set to emerge as a solid player with the Patriots.