draft_logo.jpgby Scott Benson

Yesterday, I took a few wild guesses on the areas the Patriots might try to improve on when they make their selections in this year’s NFL Draft. This morning, let’s begin looking at a few prospects who may fill those needs when the draft is held 12 days from today.

That brings us to the Patriots Daily Draft Rumor Inventory V.3, our clearinghouse of Patriots draft rumors from around the Net. If you’ve seen the past versions, you get the gist; these are the prospects that have been linked to the Pats through an all-star game or Combine contact, a pro day or private workout, or a scheduled visit to Gillette Stadium.

Like last time, the source of the information is noted, along with the basic measureables. All the way to the left, we seek the counsel of our favorite draft publicatitons (Scouts, Inc., Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News and NFL Draft Scout) to project the round in which the player will be drafted.

As Mike Reiss and Chris Gasper of the Globe always remind us, these contacts don’t necessarily mean the Patriots are in hot pursuit of the player. It does mean they’re still gathering information. So take it for what it’s worth. Their recent visits with Darren McFadden and Glenn Dorsey may simply be a swerve for purposes we won’t understand for two weeks, at least.

A few thoughts, though:

The Pats are doing their due diligence with the top cornerbacks and linebackers in this draft, including a handful of potential Top Ten players. Taken in the collective, that may give an indication as to their early direction, not just in the first round but on the two picks they hold in the 60’s. The sheer volume of propsects that reportedly fall in the middle-second to early-third round range could indicate the Pats are also preparing for a trade back scenario with that 7th pick.

Overall, two-thirds of the prospects on our list are defensive players. 35% of the players on the list either corners or safeties, and another 20% are linebackers. On offense, only wide receivers crack 10%.

The prospect visits are further indication of the defensive buzz building around the Pats draft plans. Of the 19 visits that have reportedly been arranged, only one is with an offensive player (McFadden). 8 of the 19 visits are with cornerbacks; another 5 are with linebackers.

Open up the hood and have a look for yourself. We’ll be back with more prospect thoughts in the days ahead. In the meantime, share your own draft thoughts in the Comments section.