Kiper's mock 3.0: Patriots

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. linked the New England Patriots to Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro in his first two mock drafts -- 1.0 and 2.0.

With Kiper's third mock draft Insider set to be released Thursday, it's a good time to revisit team needs, and tight end remains on the radar.

Veteran Michael Hoomanawanui is returning to the Patriots on a two-year deal, giving the Patriots three layers on the depth chart -- Rob Gronkowski, Hoomanawanui and D.J. Williams. Another "move" tight end would be ideal, and that is the category in which Amaro would fall.

The only position I think we could decisively rule out in the first round at this point is quarterback.

Everything else is in play, with both 2014 and future years in mind, and that's generally the way the Patriots like it. They prefer not to have their hand forced as it was, to some degree, at receiver last year.

From a general sense, one reminder that we've seen this year in free agency is that some of the biggest-money deals are along the defensive line. So if the right defensive lineman falls to the Patriots at No. 29, it wouldn't be surprising if the Patriots target that spot as well -- drafting and developing at the position is generally good business.

At this point, though, it's a blank canvas, with the Patriots owning one pick in each of the first four rounds, two in Round 6 and one in Round 7.

The fifth-rounder was shipped to the Eagles in the Isaac Sopoaga trade.