Mock thoughts: Targeting front seven

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper produces his first mock draft of 2012 (Link here, Insider content), and he focuses on the front seven on defense for the Patriots.

Kiper has the Patriots selecting Louisiana State defensive lineman Michael Brockers with the No. 27 overall pick, which was acquired from the Saints.

"Brockers could end up a lot higher than this when the evaluation process is over because his reputation is growing. ... What he can do is add explosiveness on the interior; he's a penetrator with the ability to dominate if left to a single blocker, which frees people up."

With the 32nd overall pick -- Kiper must also be projecting a Super Bowl championship -- the Patriots get Clemson linebacker Andre Branch.

"A defensive end at the college level, Branch would convert to outside linebacker and add some immediate help to the New England pass rush. He racked up 10.5 sacks this past season and has a 6-foot-5, 260-pound frame, a good physical fit for the transition."

Kiper acknowledges that it's early for a mock draft and there "will be a number of shifts over the next three-plus months as teams get to take a close look at prospects, physical skills are matched against the tape, measurements on height and weight are confirmed and medicals come in."