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Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Patriots draft could bring championships

By Tim Graham

The New England Patriots are the NFL's richest team heading into the draft. They own two picks in each of the first three rounds and three picks in the top 33 slots.

In the latest edition of ESPN's "On the Clock" roundtable series, analysts Trent Dilfer and Mel Kiper, reporter Chris Mortensen and moderator Mike Tirico discussed just how significant this year's draft can be for New England.

"I believe with a strong draft," ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said, "Tom Brady may get two more Super Bowl rings -- if this draft is productive."

The Patriots have an incredible degree of flexibility with how they choose to approach the draft.

They've been more likely to trade back and accumulate picks in past drafts. But with a rookie wage scale nearly certain to be part of the next collective bargaining agreement, this could be the year the Patriots make a play.

"Seven picks in the first four rounds, do they try to package and move up?" Kiper wondered. "Wide receiver is an issue. Do you go up get A.J. Green from Georgia? Do you go up and get Julio Jones from Alabama?

"Or do you stand pat, figuring you have a need at outside linebacker, you have a need at wide receiver, you could use a running back. This offensive line right now could be in a state of flux. There's no question about that."

If the Patriots do stick with the picks they have, Kiper forecasts their first-round combo could be Purdue defensive end/outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and Miami receiver Leonard Hankerson.

Dilfer's druthers would be to trade up for one or two no-doubt impact players.

"They don't have guys that change the down," Dilfer said. "They have guys that win the down based on doing their jobs, but they don't have that fear factor. They don't have the dynamic playmaker on either side of the ball.

"So, with all these picks, maybe it's an opportunity to move up there and get two dynamic playmakers that can actually change each down."