New England Patriots: Defense the Focus for 2016 NFL Draft


Going into Week 5 of the college football season, the 2016 NFL Draft is closer than it seems. Front office personnel are always tracking college talent. Who should the New England Patriots be thinking of targeting in the upcoming NFL Draft?

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With a top ranked offense and strong skill position players, this should not be an area of concern early on in the draft. A surprisingly tough and fairly young offensive line, New England does not need to target offensive lineman if these guys continue to perform like they have early on in the season.

What New England lacks on defense, they make up big time on offense. However, come playoff time, a shut down defense is crucial. Here are a few defenders that New England should target early in the draft to bolster their defense in 2016 and beyond. 

KeiVarae Russell- Notre Dame 

A physical corner with size who was suspended last season due to an academic investigation, Russell is back this season and has looked very strong. As a Umass student, I had a chance to watch Russell line up with Tajae Sharpe this past weekend. Sharpe, an underrated draft prospect due to the level of competition he faces, was held to 83 yards on eight catches.

Russell gets another chance this weekend to prove himself against an elite wide receiver, this time Artavis Scott of Clemson. Patriots fans should tune in to tomorrow night to watch Russell and Scott battle on national television. Russell may be a Patriot come next fall. 

SoJourn Shelton- Wisconsin

I’ve loved Shelton since watching him as a true freshman against Ohio State on the big stage. Time and time again he made a big play during that game. I knew he would be a top corner in college after that game.

A true freshman who covered guys during the game such as Devin Smith, now a member of the New York Jets. Shelton lacks the size of Russell but makes up for it in his ability to be everywhere on the field. He is very quick and in this video below, you can see how he has the looks of a very strong NFL cornerback. 

Antwaun Woods- Southern Cal

Woods stands in at 6-1 320 pounds. This season, New England fans lost beloved defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. In the draft they selected Malcolm Brown, defensive tackle out of the University of Texas.

The year before Brown, the Patriots selected Dominique Easley, defensive tackle from the University of Florida. While Easley and Brown could form a dynamic duo in the 4-3 defense, the health of Easley has to be a major concern as he continues to battle injuries.

Woods is a big boy and a big time run stuffer just like Wilfork. A likely second rounder, New England can get a guy who could be the next Wilfork at a discount. Both Brown and Easley are versatile defensive lineman and can line up on the outside at defensive end as well. Woods is the run stuffer New England should be targeting in the 2016 draft.

Next: Patriots Should Seek Trade Partner for Jerod Mayo

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