The releases of Oscar Lua and Rosie Colvin leaves the Patriots very thin at linebacker. Only Vrabel, Thomas, Woods, Slaughter, and Alexander remain. Vrabel and Thomas will likely remain on the outside, and hopefully Bruschi and Seau will return to play the inside. Woods could have an increase at playing time on the outside, and Alexander on the inside.
Obviously, the Patriots will have to make some offseason additions at linebacker assuming Colvin doesn’t resign (which is looking more and more likely, according to sources). I only see one potential free agent target, former Steelers linebacker Clark Haggans. Haggans has never been a tackling machine, but provides great pass rush and solid run support. He has played in the 3-4 his entire career, so he would be an ideal fit in the Patriots system.
Through the draft, there are many possibilities. The ideal one would be Vernon Gholston, who many people are comparing to Mike Vrabel. Gholston showed off at the combine, running a 4.67, and leading all players in bench press reps. Gholston is a solid all around player. Although he played defensive end in college, the assumption is that he could easily transition to outside linebacker as a pro. The next best option for our system is J Leman. He is a guy who can really play the 3-4 at the inside position. He is a good tackler, and has the potential to be a star in our system. Best of all, he could come in and contribute right away. Anybody who suggests Dan Connor knows nothing about the Patriots. I guarantee you, the Patriots won’t draft him. The only other option I see is USC’s Keith Rivers, who would be a perfect fit on the outside, but only if the Patriots trade now.