Peter King of Sports Illustrated produces his first-round mock draft that will hit newsstands on Thursday, and he envisions a scenario in which the Patriots select Florida center/guard Mike Pouncey with the 17th overall pick, and then trade the 28th pick to the Titans.
"He's a Day One starting guard, with the ability to someday replace Dan Koppen (32 in September) at center if need be," King writes of Pouncey. "Either [J.J. Watt or Pouncey] would make the Patriots better immediately. I give them Pouncey because of the interior-line urgency and the Urban Meyer/Bill Belichick connection."
Meanwhile, the trade with the Titans is so Tennessee can get back into the first round and select Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder.
ANALYSIS: Pouncey is one of the safest picks in this draft, similar to how his brother Maurkice was last year (Steelers, No. 18). Safe isn't always the way to go, because it doesn't always represent the best value, so that would be the big question here -- could the Patriots do better at a more valuable position, and then fill the center/guard need later? The way King's scenario plays out, I think this would be a strong first round for the Patriots because it assumes the team picks up Tennessee's first round pick in 2012. There are still good pass rushers (e.g. Jabaal Sheard, Justin Houston, Brooks Reed) and defensive linemen (e.g. Allen Bailey, Stephen Paea) if the Patriots are thinking front-seven on defense in the second round.