Friday, April 29, 2011
Patriots end mystery with Dowling
By Tim Graham
After 18 hours of speculation, the New England Patriots didn't deal out of the 33rd slot and drafted Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling to lead off the second round Friday night.
Why the Patriots took him: The Patriots shored a position that wasn't necessarily a need but can always afford to be strengthened. Devin McCourty went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie last season. Their best cornerback headed into training camp last year, Leigh Bodden, is coming back from a shoulder injury.
How it affects the roster: Last year's backups, Darius Butler and Tony Carter, are in jeopardy of losing their roster spots. Butler has been a disappointment. The Patriots had high hopes for the 2009 second-round pick, but he quickly lost his starting job to Kyle Arrington last year.
Scouts Inc. says: Can hold up in certain man-to-man matchups but would need deep-safety support versus NFL receivers with upper-echelon quickness. Has some tightness in hips, while top-end speed is very good lack of elite initial quickness can get him in trouble when he takes false steps in man coverage. However, shows an extra gear to recover when caught out of position. At his best in zone coverage, where he can keep receivers in front of him and read the quarterback's eyes.