Free agency isn't over, but we're able to see where the Patriots are trending. After the signings of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Brandon LaFell, and Julian Edelman, the Patriots have spent their rainy day fund. They're currently projected to have $3.85 million left in cap space once everyone has been included in the cap calculations, so once the $5 million in rookie contracts is factored into the equation, it's obvious New England is done shopping.
They've spent all their money and until Vince Wilfork either restructures or is let go, the Patriots will be left with a few gaping holes with no current idea on how to close them.
You should head over to our NFL Draft page for more details on who's available in the draft and what prospects are worth getting to know. I've recently shuffled around the top prospects at positions and I've re-ranked our needs in a post-free agency world.
The addition of the corners and the wide receivers have dropped those needs down the list, while Wilfork Watch has brought defensive tackle into greater focus.
Here's the pick-6 of needs:
1. Interior Line. The Patriots haven't made a move to address their interior line, and that includes re-signing free agent center Ryan Wendell. The current line-up is worse than last season, which was the lowest level of performance in the past decade. We've noted how the veteran options at interior line are mostly off the market. The Patriots either need to find room to squeeze Wendell back on the roster, or determine if a Logan Mankins - Dan Connolly - Marcus Cannon interior is actually the best option.
2. Tight End. Rob Gronkowski is healing from his injuries and Michael Hoomanawanui is back under contract. Either of those make you feel especially positive? This is a draft rich in tight end talent and snagging one is essential for offensive success.
3. Defensive Tackle. Wilfork throws a wrench into everything, while Tommy Kelly needs to prove his health. Beyond those vets, there's a bunch of young guys with a ton to prove (Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones, Joe Vellano, Armond Armstead, Marcus Forston). Wilfork's future will continue to keep this need in flux, but the team could also use some top tier talent for the roster.
4. Defensive End. Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones are asked to do far too much, and most of the available options are priced out of the Patriots cap space. It might lead to the Patriots addressing the position with a ready-to-play prospect early in the draft.
5. Linebacker. This has been a dark horse this off-season. Jerod Mayo's return from injury has been an underplayed story line this off-season, although his pectoral injury shouldn't be too much reason for concern. Still, with Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher signing with different teams, the Patriots have lost their depth at the position. Don't be surprised by a selection early in day 3.
6. Safety. Lost in the positive news in the secondary is the Patriots potential weakness at the safety spot. The loss of Steve Gregory not only leaves a vacancy in leadership, but also in the depth chart. Unless the Patriots are playing single deep with Devin McCourty and utilizing their cornerback depth, the Patriots need to add one more safety to the roster.
The Patriots have done a great job of addressing the top level of talent at a few of their positions and just need a starter on the interior line. A few other positions need players with starter upside, like tight end and defensive tackle, while the rest is just looking for depth in case of injury, and players who can give the starters a rest.
There's still plenty of work to do, but it's nice to see that most of the Patriots needs in the draft are for depth roles, allowing the team some freedom to pursue the best players available in the early rounds.