Defense, defense, defense. The New England Patriots have survived -- thrived, even -- without a top defense the last few seasons, but upgrading that side of the football should be New England's point of emphasis in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Mel Kiper agrees. In his latest 2012 NFL Mock Draft, the ESPN analyst has the New England Patriots selecting outside linebacker Vinny Curry from Marshall with the No. 27 pick and defensive tackle Kendall Reyes with the No. 31 pick.
Vinny Curry, OLB, Marshall
Curry is a really good pass-rusher for a team that needs to find some help in that area. I'm not sure he's the best candidate to play OLB in a 3-4, but Bill Belichick can scheme around his personnel as well as anybody, and if he loves a pass-rusher, he'll find a way to make it work. Curry has violent hands and can really get a tackle off-balance. He can also swim to the inside. The Patriots need to add talent to the front seven, and Curry is a start.
Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
We've seen the value of Vince Wilfork, and while Reyes isn't the size of a city block, he certainly has some of the traits of a guy who can help a defense similarly. When he gets good leverage (which he usually does), Reyes is really strong and will get offensive linemen up off their feet as he pushes them into the backfield. He's not going to shed blocks as a brilliant pass-rusher would, but Reyes can develop into the guy who makes everybody else a better pass-rusher because he demands so much blocking help.
For all your Patriots news and notes, head to Pats Pulpit, and for all the latest 2012 NFL Draft coverage, check out Mocking the Draft.