As round two gets underway at 6 p.m., the Patriots are in the enviable position of selecting at 33, 56 and 60.
While the team did pick up another first-rounder in 2012 and added Nate Solder, Friday may be the most important day in recent memory.
New England failed to address its greatest need – the pass rush – and most of the top five-technique players are off the board.
That said, the Pats are in prime position to add five quality players by the end of the day, and getting an outside linebacker/defensive end is clearly the most critical remaining need.
Here are some of the best prospects available on Friday:
1. Jabaal Sheard – Classic size/speed combo to move to 3-4 OLB. Good strength, aggression, leadership and production. Would like to see him taken with pick 33.
2. Brooks Reed – Solid production and combine-best 1.54 10-yard split. Not as good a run defender as Sheard, but perhaps greater pass rush upside.
3. Akeem Ayers – Versatile playmaker at UCLA. Doesn’t have elite measurables or instincts.
4. Justin Houston – Good production in the SEC. Great size/speed combo. Character, work ethic and positional fit concerns.
1. Mikel LeShoure – Could be in play for the 56th pick. Strong runner with good size and strength.
2. Ryan Williams – Like his versatility and running style. Also could be available near the end of Round 2.
3. Leonard Hankerson – Not a deep threat, but has the size and adequate speed to be a good No. 2 receiver. Red-zone threat.
4. Titus Young – Explosive deep threat. Would be in consideration with 60th pick.