Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Caserio talks versatility of defensive backs in draft


The New England Patriots have been slowly but surely bolstering the defensive secondary over the past year. This week is a prime opportunity to continue that work.

With the start of the 2013 NFL Draft just a couple days away, The Pats' director of player personnel Nick Caserio spoke with the media Monday about all things draft. (photo: Matt Tosh, Flickr)

And while Caserio didn't let any top secret info slip regarding the team's plans with its five picks, he did elaborate on the depth and versatility of the defensive back class.

"There are some groups that there’s quite a bit of depth, there’s a lot of good, productive players," Caserio said. "The secondary I think is an area. Both the corner and the safety position, I think one of the things that’s probably unique about that position, is you’ve seen a few more players have actually played multiple positions. Some of them have played safety, have played corner, some have played the nickel position, like the Matt Elam (Florida) kid.

"So there’s, I would say, versatile players in the defensive backfield. They’re not necessarily confined to one particular spot which that probably speaks to a little bit of the evolution. You’re looking for guys that are versatile, can play multiple spots. Some of those players have played in more passing-oriented divisions and conferences. The SEC, with some of the spread offenses and those types of things. So, I think there’s some depth and some versatility at that position."

Elam is widely regarded as the top prospect at the safety position, showing the ability to both play the slot receiver as well as one-on-one on the outside. His physicality and personality on the field has made him a likely first round pick, along with his big-play ability.

In the cornerback group, Dee Milliner has likely solidified his position as top dog in his class, showing similar characteristics as Elam even though he started only one season at Alabama. Milliner, like Elam, had six picks in his college career, though the more impressive stat was his 22 passes defended last season en route to a national championship.

Either one would be a huge addition to New England's current depth chart, though it would be surprising if either was available at No. 29.

New England's notable additions to its secondary in the past season include cornerback Aqib Talib and veteran safety Adrian Wilson. 

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