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Baldinger offers thoughts on Pats’ draft plans

02.17.10 at 9:11 pm ET
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Leading up to the draft, WEEI.com will ask NFL analysts and draft insiders their thoughts on what the Patriots should do this year. This week, Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network gives his thoughts on what type of players New England should go after on draft weekend. Baldinger, a co-host of the show ‘€œPlaybook,’€ believes the Patriots should target ‘€” in order of importance ‘€” outside pass rushers, wide receivers, running backs and cornerbacks this April. Here’€™s why:

‘€œThe Patriots were an average defense at best last year, and losses to the Broncos and Dolphins and Ravens, they were unable for long stretches of the game to apply pressure from their 3-4 defense. Thirteen teams currently run a 3-4 defense, and the good ones made the playoffs. Off the top of my head, there’s San Diego, Baltimore, the New York Jets, Dallas, Green Bay and Arizona, not to mention the former Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. In all examples, you can name one if not two very good outside linebackers who can rush the passer.

‘€œThe Patriots don’€™t have that guy, and Belichick is not a creative blitzer. If they want to play with the pressure packages of the Jets, Steelers and Ravens in the AFC, then they need to find that guy, just the same way the Packers found Clay Matthews this year.

‘€œAs for receiver, Randy Moss looked disinterested down the stretch this season, and Welker is coming off major surgery. Watson was barely looked at by Brady, and Sam Aiken was hardly an option. Brady needs go-to guys that can win his trust immediately, the way Garcon and Collie did for Manning.

‘€œAt running back, Maroney is OK, but Taylor is done. They need help there with young, fresh legs. They could also use corner help, because they can’€™t seem to keep the ones they draft, and the veterans they brought in aren’€™t the answer.

‘€œThey need to continue to get younger and faster and more athletic. The answer for Belichick in his glorious run has always been to draft well and fortify the ranks with smart veteran players. This year, the additions of Springs, Galloway and Taylor were those guys, and it didn’€™t work.’€

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