The Patriots have their work cut out for them as they try to position the team to compete for another Super Bowl run after falling short in the AFC Championship Game the past two seasons. With the Super Bowl championship drought up to a decade now, New England’s window to win with quarterback Tom Brady is starting to close. After losing to Denver, the Patriots were able to sit at home and watch the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl show the nation the impact of a premier pass rush and how it can disrupt even a great quarterback.
With the upcoming draft and free agency the Patriots need to find players to make an impact on the field immediately. While rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, defensive backs Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan, and linebacker Jamie Collins all made an impact on the field at some point in 2013, none were a consistent contributor. Integrating young players via the draft can take time, so the Patriots need to choose carefully to be certain that their selections can get on the field and contribute as soon as possible.
Free agency is where New England had problems last season as they struggled to bring in impact players. The best additions were the players who were on the team in 2012 who were brought back (slot receiver Julian Edelman, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington, and offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer). Unfortunately, the free agents brought in during the off-season were duds.
Slot receiver Danny Amendola was injured (no surprise) throughout the season. The Patriots brought in veteran wide receivers Donald Jones, Michael Jenkins, and Lavelle Hawkins and none of them made the roster. Third-down running back Leon Washington played a total of 14 snaps before being cut after being injured most of his tenure in New England. Tackle Will Svitek was also bit by the injury bug and was limited when there was a need on the offensive line. On defense, free agent safety Adrian Wilson was injured in the preseason and missed the entire season.
Where the Patriots struggled in 2013 was in rushing the quarterback. While defensive end Chandler Jones had some flashes throughout the season, the Patriots lacked the consistent outside pass rush opposite him from veteran Rob Ninkovich. With a number of free agents available at defensive end, a pass rusher to line up opposite Jones would be a good pickup for New England to consider.
The draft has been a nightmare for the Patriots in regards to finding pass rushers...CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE: http://cover32.com/patriots/2014/02/24/new-england-patriots-need-to-add-a-pass-rusher-this-off-season/