Chad Reuter, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, produces his post-Combine mock draft -- and he envisions a scenario where the Patriots select Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt at No. 17, and Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston at No. 28.
In targeting Watt, Reuter says simply, "The Patriots will gladly insert the ever-improving Watt into their defensive line."
With Houston, Reuter writes, "Combines good strength on the edge and an explosive pass rush to further improve the Pats' front seven."
ANALYSIS: Watt fits as a defensive end in the team's 3-4 alignment, with the possibility that he could stay on the field on third down at times and help with the pass rush. Watt is represented by agent Tom Condon, who the Patriots haven't negotiated a contract with since Benjamin Watson's holdout in 2004, although that probably wouldn't be a big factor in a new rookie salary slotting system. Houston measured 6-foot-2 at the Combine, so the Patriots might question his length in giving him a first-round grade. For a team looking to bolster its pass rush, Houston's 17.5 sacks over the last two seasons could be enticing.