ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper produces the third version of his mock draft (Insider content), and it has some changes for the Patriots.
At No. 17, Kiper envisions a scenario in which the Patriots select Purdue defensive end/outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.
"While I don't see him as a guy who'll be dropping back and covering very well early on, Kerrigan is smart, and simply has a gift for getting to the quarterback, and New England needs a guy like him for all the passes they'll continue to face when up in games," Kiper writes.
At No. 28, Kiper has the Patriots selecting Miami receiver Leonard Hankerson.
"The Patriots have the underneath options, but could use a threat that can stretch defenses and cause matchup problems against smaller corners, and Hankerson provides that," Kiper writes.
In his second mock draft, Kiper had the Patriots selecting Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan at No. 17 and Maryland receiver Torrey Smith at No. 28. This time around, Kiper has Jordan going No. 18 to San Diego, with Smith slipping out of the first round.
ANALYSIS: Kerrigan is one of the most disruptive defensive players in the draft. While he projects to outside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 defense, his initial value would come in sub packages as a rusher. The Patriots were in a sub package 57 percent of the time in 2010 and ranked last in the league on third down, so Kerrigan could address a pressing need. In Hankerson, the Patriots would add another young talent at receiver, joining Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman and Taylor Price atop the depth chart. I'd lean more toward a defensive or offensive lineman in this scenario, although the Patriots could look to that area with the No. 33 pick.