The New England Patriots were their usual selves in 2012. They were an elite AFC team with an excellent offense and a questionable pass defense, and so naturally mock drafts are leaning toward the Patriots selecting a cornerback with their first-round pick. New England finished 25th in total defense and 29th against the pass, while allowing 27 touchdown passes.
But then again, what if the Patriots go another route entirely? After all, they were still an elite AFC team.
Perhaps a bigger issue to address for the Patriots is the switch from a 3-4 defensive alignment into a 4-3, which would require some additional big men in the middle of the defensive line. Though the Patriots were sixth in yards per carry allowed last year, they still need the proper personnel for this new front. Defensive tackle Kawann Short out of Purdue might be the perfect complement to the new scheme, and that's who CBS Sports' Pat Kirwin projected to the Patriots in his latest mock draft:
The Patriots have taken many defensive linemen in the first round in the Belichick era and picking this low in the first round is nothing new. The Pats are back in a 4-3 defense after years of a 3-4 scheme and a quick one gap penetrator like Short. The only thing holding Short back is himself. He erased some of his inconsistent effort label at the Senior Bowl. His 70 plays behind the line of scrimmage speak for themselves.
While Short might not be able to defend in the secondary like Desmond Trufant or another defensive back prospect, he would help move forward in the new system. And that can't be overlooked either.