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Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Kiper has Pats picking DE/LB Sapp at 22

By Mike Reiss

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has put together his first NFL mock draft (Insider), and with the 22nd overall pick he gives the New England Patriots Clemson defensive end/outside linebacker Ricky Sapp. In explaining the choice, Kiper writes:

“The Patriots clearly need help when it comes to getting to opposing quarterbacks, and Sapp is an ideal fit on the edge in the 3-4. He's the kind of athlete who can adjust to being upright and flat-out knows how to get to the quarterback.”

ANALYSIS: The Patriots consistently struggled to generate a pass rush with the standard four rushers. One of their offseason goals figures to be adding players at outside linebacker who will be strong enough to set the edge in the running game and athletic enough to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Because of the struggles with the four-man rush, the Patriots blitzed more than 40 percent of the time. Ideally, that number will be reduced in 2010 with better production out of the four-man rush. Perhaps Sapp would be part of the solution.