While they're in good shape at the top of the defensive tackle depth chart, the expectation is they'll add another player at the position to provide the quality depth up front that Bill Belichick covets. Plus, it would take some of the burden off Vince Wilfork.
With all that said, Penn State's Devon Still could be someone on New England's radar.
Still is the focus of the seventh installment of a 26-day series that will highlight draft prospects who could land with the Patriots at the end of April. Maybe the prospect fits perfectly in the range of their 27th and 31st picks. Maybe he's intriguing enough for them to make a rare move up the board. Or maybe it's a player who could be available in the mid-30s, causing the Patriots to, gasp, trade down.
The 6-foot-5, 303-pounder had 4.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss, 55 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery last season.
Why the Patriots Would Want Him
Still is a space eater who has some ability to make plays in the offensive backfield. He could play across the line in the 3-4, and he'd be a strong interior presence in a four-man front. Still is considered a good leader, which is important to the Patriots, and he has told reporters he enjoys being a factor in the defense even when he's not directly involved in the tackle. Still's turf toe injury, which he suffered late last season, has limited him in the pre-draft process, but he has still chosen to work out for teams, and that shows this is important to him.
Why the Patriots Might Stay Away
While the Patriots are expected to add depth at defensive tackle, Bill Belichick might deem it more necessary to address another position in the first round, such as an edge rusher or defensive back. Plus, Penn State doesn't have the most sterling success rate with high draft picks, and that can't be completely overlooked.
Potential Impact in 2012
If the Patriots used more of a 3-4 look, Still would have an opportunity to start along with Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love, but they'd rotate in four-man fronts.
Likelihood Still Is Available at No. 27
It's unclear, as it is with most defensive tackles at the top of the class. For what it's worth, Still hasn't cracked the first round in a few of my mock drafts, but I had him going 15th to the Eagles in the most recent edition. If Still isn't available, though, there figures to be a handful of comparable players on the board at the position.
Each day in April, NESN.com will spotlight a player the Patriots could take with one of their first-round picks.
Friday: Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower
Sunday: Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox