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Patriots focus on offense and trades in draft
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. _ Three trades. Two youngsters added to a group of old running backs. One potential successor to Tom Brady.
And no pass rushers.
The New England Patriots stuck to their traditional draft strategy on Friday _ focusing on their ratings of players and not their positions of need and stocking up on draft choices.
They added picks in the first and second rounds next year in the first two days of the draft. But they didn’t address the need for an improved pass rush. They finished 14th in the NFL last year with 36 sacks.
“Younger players will still continue to develop at every position,” he said.
That’s especially important at running back where he has 34-year-old Kevin Faulk, who spent most of last season on injured reserve, 34-year-old Sammy Morris and 35-year-old Fred Taylor. That leaves BenJarvus Green-Ellis, 25, and Danny Woodhead, 26.
They also went for strong-armed Ryan Mallett, a 6-foot-6 quarterback from Arkansas in the third round and cornerback Ras-I Dowling of Virginia with the first pick of the second.
The Patriots made two trades on Friday. They sent the 28th pick of the second round to Houston for the ninth pick of the third round and the 10th of the fifth. Then they traded the 28th choice of the third round and eight choice of the fourth to Oakland for the 16th selection of the seventh round and a second-rounder next year. A deal with New Orleans on Thursday brought a first-round pick next year.
On Saturday, they have no picks in the fourth round, two in the fifth and one in each the sixth and seventh.
Size, Belichick said, is an asset with so many tall receivers in the NFL.
“It seems like every week we’re going against big, physical receivers,” he said. “Being able to tackle, being able to be physically, being able to jam guys” are significant skills for cornerbacks.
Dowling started only two of the five games he played as a senior before his season ended when he fractured his left ankle. He also suffered knee and hamstring injuries last season.
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