Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has proven time and again that he'll draft the best player available, especially in the first round, and it was most evident last year when no one expected him to go after a cornerback.
It seems even more unlikely for the Patriots to target that position early in this draft, but if they are tempted, they'll have a shot at Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith.
The 6-foot-2, 211-pounder didn't have any interceptions as a senior, and he was only thrown at "about 20 times" in man coverage, according to his Colorado biography. He also only allowed one touchdown in 2010.
Why the Patriots Would Want Him
Smith is a great athlete with supreme physicality, and he has the talent to be a really good cornerback. There is little doubt that he is the third best corner in the draft class behind LSU's Patrick Peterson and Nebraska's Prince Amukamara.
Why the Patriots Might Stay Away
Smith has plenty of character concerns, including multiple arrests, failed drug tests and skipping the Senior Bowl. Some have also questioned his sincerity during his pre-draft workouts. So, essentially, he is no Devin McCourty.
Potential Impact in 2011
The Patriots should be perfectly happy with their cornerbacks entering next season, with McCourty and Leigh Bodden slotted as the starters and Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite rotating as backups. Smith would be able to compete for that third spot.
What The Locals Are Saying
Smith geared up for a stressful pre-draft run.
Where Can the Patriots Expect to Draft Smith?
It really depends on how teams view Smith's character issues. He'll definitely be there at No. 17, but the Eagles (No. 23), Seahawks (25), Ravens (26) and Steelers (31) are all in need of a cornerback. Smith might be worth considering if he falls into the Nos. 28-33 range.
Every day through April 28, NESN.com will spotlight one player the Patriots could draft with one of their first three picks.
Friday, April 1: California defensive end Cameron Jordan
Saturday, April 2: North Carolina defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Quinn
Sunday, April 3: Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward
Monday, April 4: Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones
Tuesday, April 5: Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara
Wednesday, April 6: Alabama running back Mark Ingram
Thursday, April 7: Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo
Friday, April 8: Florida interior lineman Mike Pouncey
Saturday, April 9: Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi
Sunday: April 10: Georgia defensive end/outside linebacker Justin Houston
Monday, April 11: Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers
Tuesday, April 12: Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt
Wednesday, April 13: UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers
Thursday, April 14: USC tackle Tyron Smith
Friday, April 15: Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor
Saturday, April 16: Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod
Monday, April 18: Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure