Kiper's top 5 WRs & Patriots

We previously passed along the top five cornerbacks eligible for the 2013 NFL draft as analyzed by ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.

Beyond cornerback, another position that the Patriots may be interested in upgrading this offseason is wide receiver.

With Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Deion Branch set to become free agents, the Patriots could find themselves thin at the position.

Should they opt to invest in a wideout in the first round, a quality player is likely to be available, as receiver is considered a deep position in this year’s draft, although there isn’t the star power atop the receiver crop that we’ve seen in recent seasons (e.g. A.J. Green, Julio Jones and others).

In looking at Kiper’s top five eligible receivers for this draft, the best of his bunch is Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee, whose 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame and physical gifts suggest big-time potential.

Cal's Keenan Allen, a player who had a monster 2011 season, is Kiper's second-rated receiver, followed by Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins, West Virginia's Tavon Austin (whom fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay pegged for the Patriots in his initial mock draft), and Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton.

Kiper suggests that the upcoming NFL combine will be big for this group, as one or more players could separate themselves from the rest.

The Patriots’ biggest decision relating to receivers this offseason will be how to approach contract talks with Welker, who recorded yet another 100-plus catch season in 2012. But even if the team retains Welker, a need still exists to upgrade the receiver spot. The Patriots added Brandon Lloyd last offseason and he proved to be a sufficient offensive piece, but the Patriots could use a dynamic playmaker at receiver to upgrade the offense.

Teams ahead of them in the draft order are in need of a receiver as well, so it’s likely that part of this receiver group will be off the board by the time the 29th pick rolls around, but a player at the back end of this list could prove to be a fit.

To see the entirety of Kiper’s top five prospects by position, CLICK HERE (Insider content).