Sunday, June 3, 2012
AFC East offseason report card: Patriots
By James Walker
With the offseason just about complete, here are our grades for the New England Patriots:
What I liked: The reigning AFC champs did not need much. But the Patriots focused heavily on two things: wide receiver and improving the defense. New England went overboard signing receivers this offseason. The biggest additions were deep threat Brandon Lloyd and crafty receiver Jabar Gaffney, who is one of quarterback Tom Brady's favorite targets. Additional receivers like Donte' Stallworth, Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco and Julian Edelman also will compete for roster spots. Patriots Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker also signed his one-year franchise tag and will not hold out. New England also drafted all defensive players until the seventh round. Pass-rush specialist Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower should add depth and contribute immediately as first-rounders.
What I didn't like: I don't think New England did enough to address its secondary, which was horrendous last season. The Patriots were ranked 31st against the pass. The only addition they made was second-round pick and rookie safety Tavon Wilson, who many thought was a major reach. Wilson was not invited to the combine and was projected to be a fourth- or fifth-round pick. New England took him in the second round, which puts pressure on Wilson to produce right away. The offensive line also is a concern. Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins is questionable for the start of the season and left tackle Matt Light retired. The Patriots are trying to find the right combination up front.
On Monday we will take a look at the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.