With the Patriots owning the 29th pick in the first round, the players that will be available to them are naturally less predictable than if the pick was earlier in the round.
But regardless of which players will be available, we can hone in on positions of need for the Patriots, which figure to include cornerback, safety, wide receiver, and defensive tackle.
ESPN’s NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. will continue to update his top five players at each position prior to April's draft, which helps to give us an idea of which players could be in the mix for first-round consideration.
Focusing first on cornerbacks (with future posts relating to other positions), Kiper’s top five has a theme: each of the players is at least 6-feet tall.
The top corner on his list is Alabama's Dee Milliner (6-1), followed by Florida State's Xavier Rhodes (6-2), Washington's Desmond Trufant (6-0), Oregon State's Jordan Poyer (6-0) and Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks (6-2).
Kiper believes that Milliner has the makings of a No. 1 cornerback in the NFL, and he also pegs Rhodes as a first-round pick. Kiper designates Trufant as a fast riser after the Senior Bowl.
We noted Poyer as a player that flashed during the Senior Bowl, and Banks recorded more interceptions (16) than any of the others during his college career.
Should the Patriots not retain Aqib Talib in free agency, cornerback could become a primary position of interest during the draft. Based on the evaluations of Kiper, there seems to be players who would fit towards the back end of the first round.
To see all of Kiper’s positional rankings (Note: Insider content), CLICK HERE.