Mock thoughts: Pats 2012 top picks

It is refreshing to think that we won't be mentioning the words "mock" and "draft" in the same sentence for another eight months or so. I'm all mocked out.

But before we officially turn the page, analysts such as ESPN's Todd McShay and Foxsports.com's Peter Schrager have looked ahead to produce a 2012 mock draft. Both acknowledge it is extremely early to do so, but the mocks provide an initial snapshot which includes some of the top projected prospects.

McShay's mock (Insider content) and Schrager's mock both have the Patriots picking deep in the first round, which means they see both the Saints and Patriots having solid 2011 seasons.

McShay gives the Patriots outside linebacker/defensive end Andre Branch (Clemson) at No. 28, which is the pick the team acquired from the Saints. He follows up with Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick at No. 31.

Schrager goes with outside linebacker/defensive Donte Paige-Moss (North Carolina) at No. 28, and follows up with Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu at No. 30.

With three of the four projected picks coming in the defensive front-seven, it highlights how this was an area the team didn't address in the 2011 draft.

EXTRA POINT: Andrew Perloff of SI.com also produces a 2012 mock. He goes with Texas defensive tackle Kheeston Randall at No. 23, and BYU offensive tackle Matt Reynolds at No. 31.