FOXBORO, Mass. — So much for trading the 33rd pick. The Patriots continued with their surprising ways during the draft, and they used the first pick of the second round on Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling.
The 6-foot-2, 198-pounder only played in five games as a senior in 2010 due to injuries. He had eight career interceptions, 29 pass breakups, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 160 total tackles. Dowling had a team-high 21 special teams tackles as a freshman, including 16 on kickoff coverage.
Dowling is a very athletic, physical cornerback who struggled a lot with injuries as a senior, or he would have very likely been a first-round pick in this draft. Because he's bigger, he's probably a better fit on the outside, so that's something to keep an eye on (see below).
The Patriots appear to be set at corner with Devin McCourty and Leigh Bodden, so Dowling will compete with Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite for reps in sub packages. Dowling and Arrington might be the best backups as outside corners, and Butler and Wilhite have played at their best in the slot.
Dowling's injuries dropped him down the board, especially when he had a tough time staying healthy during the pre-draft process. He gained some interest when he ran a 4.4-second 40 at the combine despite pulling his hamstring during the run. That's both impressive and worrisome all at the same time.
"My father gave me that name. There was a boxer that was named Livingstone Bramble and changed his name to Ras-I Bramble. My father liked that name and gave it to me."
–Dowling on the origin of his first name.