Patriots actually keep pick, take Dowling

NEW YORK — The Patriots are always in search of draft value, which usually comes in the form of extra draft picks. So when the Patriots don’t trade a pick — as was the case with the first selection of the second round Friday — it becomes newsworthy.

It was almost a disappointment to see New England turn in its own draft card.

The Patriots have three third-round picks this time around (33, 56, 60) and, after assessing their draft board overnight, opted to stay put and select Virginia’s Ras-I Dowling, a big cornerback who fills a need opposite 2010 first-round pick Devin McCourty.

“That pick makes a ton of sense to me,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock noted. “You’re talking about a big kid who can also run. The durability is a concern … but they’re just going to get that much better on defense.”

Dowling has battled injuries, but with three second-round picks, the Patriots can mitigate their risk. NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi reported that the Raiders (who own picks 48 and 81) were trying to move up to draft QB Colin Kaepernick, but after working the phones, Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t pull the trigger.

— Frank Tadych

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