Patriots NFL Draft Needs: Focusing On Defense

March 27, 2012; Palm Beach, FL, USA; New England Patriots head coach is Bill Belichick (center) fields questions from reporters during the AFC head coaches media breakfast at the Breakers Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The New England Patriots have two first round picks in the 2012 NFL draft, which will offer them a lot of flexibility. Even if they stay put and don't trade those picks, they have a number of needs they can address. SB Nation's Patriots blog, Pats Pulpit, addressed the Patriots needs entering the start of the NFL draft this weekend.

The Patriots are in desperate need of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, and that's where I believe their top three needs lie. The team was especially thin at safety last year, and that figures to be a position the team will address in the first two days of the draft (although, outside of Mark Barron, there isn't much first round talent available). Rush DE/OLB also figures to be a top priority, as the team lost last year's co-leader in sacks, Mark Anderson, in free agency to the Bills, while Andre Carter remains an unrestricted free agent. Lastly, the Patriots also have a need at 5-technique DT/DE. Last year's acquisition of Shaun Ellis didn't pan out, Mike Wright has been released, and Gerard Warren is a free agent. The team added Jonathan Fanene in free agency, and also have Brandon Deaderick returning, but they will probably seek to add a young upgrade at the position.

For more news and notes on the New England Patriots, visit Pats Pulpit and SB Nation Boston. Check out our 2012 NFL mock draft as selected by SB Nation NFL bloggers. And make sure to visit SB Nation's draft blog, Mocking The Draft, for more on the NFL draft.

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