With the 33rd overall pick, and the first pick of the second round, the Patriots decided to hold onto the pick and select Virginia Tech CB Ras-I Dowling, a big, physical corner. There was a thought that the Patriots could address the secondary. Leigh Bodden's health is in question after he missed all of 2010, Kyle Arrington struggled in his time as the starter and Darius Butler has yet to prove himself. Dowling's physicality matches up well with 2010 first-round CB Devin McCourty. It's likely the Patriots were hoping to move down, as Dowling could have been available later, but clearly a potential trade with the Raiders fell through. Here is PFW draft expert Nolan Nawrocki's scouting report on Dowling from the 2011 Draft Preview book:
Notes: Also played basketball and ran track as a Virginia prep, in addition to playing safety, receiver and some quarterback, though he broke his right hand as a junior and suffered a knee injury as a senior. Failed to qualify academically out of high school and attended Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) in 2006. Played in 12 games in '07, starting two in place of the injured starter, and recorded 44 tackles (16 on kickoff coverage), nine pass breakups and two interceptions with two forced fumbles. Did not play in the '08 season opener vs. USC (strained right hamstring) but started 9-of-11 games played and logged 43-11-3 with five tackles for loss. Was forced out of the North Carolina contest because of back pain. Started all 12 games in '09, totaling 58-8-3 with 2½ tackles for loss, one sack and two forced fumbles. Had an injury-plagued season in '10, playing in five games with two starts at cornerback - managed 15-1-0 despite missing time because of a hamstring strain, right knee injury and left ankle fracture. Team captain. Strained his right hamstring running the 40-yard dash at the Combine.
Positives: Excellent body length. Quick feet and loose hips. Good athletic ability, movement skills and body control for a tall corner. Flips his hips and runs effortlessly downfield (see Clemson '09 vs. Raiders WR Jacoby Ford). Transitions efficiently. Plants and drives quickly and breaks on throws. Has leaping ability and good hands to make plays in the air and highpoint interceptions. Has special-teams experience. Solid personal and football character. Motivated and hardworking.
Negatives: Inconsistent. Long strider who lacks elite top-end speed. Can better use his length and be more physical rerouting receivers off the line. Soft supporting the run. Average tackler. Durability is a concern - has been hurt dating all the way back to high school, missing significant action, and could always be snakebitten.
Summary: Tall, narrow-framed, injury-prone corner who stood out, showing more talent than Vikings '10 second-rounder Chris Cook, last season when healthy, though he has not been able to escape injuries and may never. Has the length, athletic ability and ball skills desired to match up with big receivers at the next level and could be an asset in a cover-2 defense.
NFL projection: Third- to fourth-round pick.