The Patriots 2009 Draft Class

The Patriots 2009 Draft Class

The New England Patriots added 12 players to the roster in this past weekend's NFL Draft. Here they are with some insight to each pick


A closer look at the Patriots' picks:

2/34 -- Patrick Chung, SS, 5-11, 212, Oregon
The Patriots needed to prepare for the inevitable departure of Rodney Harrison, whether it's this year or next, so drafting Chung makes sense. They still have Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders in the fold, but adding Chung solidifies the sub packages and gives the team flexibility to mix and match based on opponent. They need someone to replace Harrison's tenacity at the line of scrimmage in addition to a natural ballhawk and Chung might be that player.

2/40 -- Ron Brace, DL, 6-3, 330, Boston College
Brace adds remarkable size at 330 pounds and is a potential backup or replacement for Vince Wilfork. Re-signing the starting nose tackle remains a top priority, but Brace is a great option to have in case the unexpected happens. He should be versatile enough to adjust to a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, which is important in New England's defense, and he played a critical role in shutting down the run at Boston College, making him a potential for increased playing time depending on his development this summer.

2/41 -- Darius Butler, CB, 5-10, 183, Connecticut
Butler isn't the tallest corner in the world at 5-10, but his ability to perform on special teams may help the Patriots absorb the loss of Ellis Hobbs, who they traded to the Eagles in exchange for two fifth-round picks. The Patriots had back-to-back picks here in the second round and used them to sew up the front and back lines on defense. Butler is a ballhawk with exceptional speed and could be perfect in a slot defender role against elusive receivers underneath. He needs to play a role in the kick-return game to earn his playing time.

2/58 -- Sebastian Vollmer, OT, 6-7, 312, Houston
With their fourth second-round pick, the Patriots shored up the trenches by drafting a left tackle with the versatility to play tight end. Vollmer didn't start playing football until he was 14. When he did he helped his German prep school team win two titles. His versatility as a tight end makes him a candidate for a role in the red zone, where the Patriots often use a little trickery to get on the scoreboard. He has long arms, so he's good in pass protection, but, at the end of the day, is still a work in progress seeing as though he's only been in the United States for less than a decade.

3/83 -- Brandon Tate, WR, 6-0, 183, North Carolina
The Patriots were too top-heavy at receiver last year and they could always use more help on special teams -- especially with Ellis Hobbs dealt to Philadelphia -- so acquiring Tate makes sense. He's known more for his exploits in the kick-return game, which means his speed can be a valuable asset in two phases of the game. Tate also played defensive back at times, so there's a possibility the Patriots can utilize him a number of roles. They've done it in the past, such as when they used Troy Brown as a nickel back in an emergency role.

3/97 -- Tyrone McKenzie, OLB, 6-0, 243, South Florida
McKenzie had a rough go in college after transferring several times, but he finally found a home as a strong-side linebacker with South Florida -- a role the Patriots need to fill with Mike Vrabel now in Kansas City. Early in his career, McKenzie was a tackling machine at middle linebacker. His versatility is most likely what made him such an attractive commodity to Bill Belichick. There's no telling what McKenzie's role might be, which is what makes him such an interesting prospect to pay attention to during camp.

4/123 -- Rich Ohrnberger, G, 6-2, 297, Penn State
With Stephen Neal slowed by injuries the past few years and a bevy of backups who can only handle the workload on a limited basis, it wouldn't hurt to have an up-and-coming guard learn on the job in 2009. Ohrnberger appears to have the personality and the talent to handle that role. On top of it, he's not a burly, oversized lineman, which means he fits perfectly in New England's screen-pass oriented offense. He can get down the field quickly and that will be a boost when the likes of Kevin Faulk and Wes Welker are worming their way up the field for extra yards.

5/170 -- George Bussey, OT, 6-2, 306, Louisville
The Patriots appear to have a depth issue up front, as evident by the fact they drafted offensive linemen with back-to-backs -- and three overall. Bussey is a dual-position player and can play guard and tackle. By having a player who can do both, it prevents the Patriots from keeping an extra lineman on the final roster, thus freeing up a spot for another position of need -- perhaps on defense. Bussey was a mainstay at Louisville for four years, so durability won't be an issue, and is exceptional in pass protection, which will be of heightened importance this year as Tom Brady returns from a knee injury.

6/198 -- Jake Ingram, LS, 6-3, 232, Hawaii
The bottom line here is the Patriots needed a long snapper when Lonie Paxton signed with Denver and this was the perfect spot to grab a replacement. There can definitely be value at other positions in the sixth round, but it makes more sense to draft someone to fill this role rather than rely a veteran who may or may not be past his prime. The Patriots need someone who can match Paxton's durability and consistency. Ingram was arguably the best at his position entering the draft, so it's hard to knock this pick. He also played defensive end in college, though he'll likely stick with this role if he makes the team.

6/207 -- Myron Pryor, DT, 6-0, 319, Kentucky
Sticking with the theme of bulking up on defense, the Patriots grabbed another lineman who can compete for some playing time as a backup. Pryor is a decent player who earned All-SEC second-team honors with the Wildcats and also developed a reputation as a playmaker, through forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. Pryor won't have the size to be a starter at tackle, but he could play a role on special teams and become the next unheralded prospect to crack the 53-man roster, similar to Mike Wright, who parlayed a rookie free-agent signing into a legitimate career as a backup.

7/232 -- Julian Edelman, WR, 6-0, 198, Kent State
Why not try to find lightning a bottle in the seventh round? It's unlikely Edelman is being brought in here to be the next David Givens, but the Patriots are searching for kick-return talent with Hobbs dealt on draft day. A player such as Edelman could fill the role Matthew Slater failed to fill last year or, at the very least, provide enough competition to push the more established players. Edelman also played quarterback in college for the Flashes, so it's up in the air as to how the Patriots will do. Perhaps he's just an arm to help get the wide receivers some work in camp.

7/234 -- Darryl Richard, DT, 6-4, 290, Georgia Tech
Richard was a two-gap, run-stuffing end at Georgia Tech, so there should be no surprise the Patriots sought him out in the seventh. He flew under the radar with the Yellowjackets and could do the same in training camp this summer. Some draft experts rate him as a potential steal, particularly because his college teammates have gotten most of the press. Richard could be the next Mike Wright and build a strong career as a backup. Unfortunately for him, he's playing at a position where the Patriots have depth, but he'll be interesting to watch in camp.

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