Pat Kirwan, the Sirius XM NFL Radio host who previously wrote for NFL.com but has moved on to CBSSports.com, produces his first mock draft even though he acknowledges it's early to do so.
"There are so many variables that go into the draft process that a mock draft before the combine and the start of free agency can be a stretch," Kirwan writes. "[But] putting together a first round is a good exercise in identifying the early talent and the needs of the teams."
Along those lines, Kirwan splits the Patriots' first two picks -- one on defense, one on offense. At No. 27, Kirwan envisions a scenario where Illinois defensive end/outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus is the pick.
"The Patriots need pass rush help and this youngster had 16 sacks last year," Kirwan writes. "Mark Anderson and Andre Carter are both unsigned and Mercilus would provide pressure on opposing passers."
Then at No. 31, Kirwan targets Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu for New England.
"The Patriots have tapped into the Rutgers program before and may do it again," Kirwan writes. "Sanu is a big outside receiver who would complement big inside passing game that features two tight ends and Wes Welker. Sanu had 115 receptions last year."
EXTRA POINT: Mercilus, who is filing a journal with the Chicago Tribune, is a good prospect to get to know from a Patriots perspective. His latest journal entry can be found here.