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New England Patriots Links 3/29/12 - OLB Considered Patriots' Top Need in Draft

Mike Reiss gets Draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki to offer his opinion about the Patriots as it relates to this year's draft.

"The one position that really stands out is the outside linebacker position. I think the Patriots have had a difficult time filling that, both in free agency and the draft," he said. "You look at Adalius Thomas and how he performed there. I think that's an area they've tended to stay away from early on [in the draft], and I think they'd like to find someone to plug in, someone young. They had Andre Carter and they just lost Mark Anderson and I think they have a big need there. There are a number of players they could plug in and would fit in very well at that position.

"You look at this year's draft, I think [Clemson's] Andre Branch has the prototype. I'm not sure he has the instincts you'd like at that position, but obviously he has all the physical tools. They really prefer length at that outside linebacker position in New England, and he has it. [Alabama's] Courtney Upshaw likely will be off the board by then; he's another outside linebacker and he brings more power to the edges, more of a leverage rusher. He's definitely another one that will receive early interest as an outside 'backer. I would expect them to put a lot of attention on that position and try to get better defensively, also on the back end."

Greg A. Bedard notes new Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano offered some insight on what he and Bill Belichick used to talk about, and what really impressed Schiano about him.

"Schematically we’re different... just the game, in general, the approach, the thinking, your perspective of it. Dealing with players," Schiano said.

"He knows every player in the National Football League. I mean, he has it up here (tapping his head). I have books right now that I’m checking and reading. He’s got it in one book (tapping his head). That’s neat to just talk about players -- and he’s been doing it for so long -- because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, the players."