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Although the numbers were not quite what they’ve been in the past, Tom Brady may have had one of his best seasons in 2013, considering what he had to work with. If Bill Belichick and company are going to sustain success, they’ll need to get Brady some help in this draft, as well as find a solid young talent to anchor their defensive line.
1. Defensive Tackle
After Vince Wilfork went down to a torn Achilles tendon in Week 4, the lack of depth on the Patriots’ interior defensive line was exposed. The Pats finished the season with the third worst rushing defense in the league, in terms of both yards per carry (4.5) and total rushing yards allowed (2,145). Even if Wilfork can return to full strength, he’s a free agent after next season, making it a necessity to bolster the defensive line with youth and athleticism.
2. Tight End
With the durability of Rob Gronkowski clouded by uncertainty as he attempts to recover from a torn ACL, the Pats will be on the hunt for a dynamic tight end that Tom Brady can target in the passing game. Both Michael Hoomanawanui and Mattthew Mulligan are set to become free agents, leaving Gronk and D.J. Williams as the only tight ends on the roster. In the nine weeks the Pats were without Gronk in 2013, Hoomanawanui and Mulligan combined to catch just 11 passes, meaning the Patriots will need to fill this void if the offense is going to reach its full potential. Think of how seamlessly it ran when both Gronk and Aaron Hernandez were at their peaks.
Center Ryan Wendell will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and there’s a chance that guard Dan Connolly could slide over to replace him, which would leave the guard spot opposite Logan Mankins vacant. Regardless of how the line shuffles, Connolly himself will be a free agent after next season, so the need for interior lineman in general is something the Pats should look to address in this draft.