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Patriots beyond the first round: Tight ends

A majority of the media coverage entering the NFL draft focuses on the first round, so the "beyond the first round" series is meant to fill out the picture for the New England Patriots, who enter the draft with nine selections, beginning with the final pick of the first round (No. 32).

The "beyond the first round" series continues with tight end, attempting to identify good fits for the team:

Second round:Clive Walford (Miami) -- The 6-foot-4, 251-pound Walford is one of the top combination tight ends in this year's not-too-deep class, as he's competitive both as a blocker and pass-catcher. His primary sport was basketball and he didn't start playing football until his senior year of high school. His 35-inch vertical jump and 120-inch broad jump were some of the top testing results among those at the position, and his 34-inch arm length and 10 1/4-inch hand size also are viewed favorably by scouts.

Middle rounds: Jeff Heuerman (Ohio State) -- At 6-foot-5 1/8 and 254 pounds, Heuerman is one of the higher-rated tight ends this year and scouts must assess how much a foot injury affected his performance last season. A team captain, he was a three-year starter and has appealing physical traits, such as a 33 1/4 arm length and 10 1/8-inch hand size. His 26 repetitions on the bench press also reflect his strength.

Middle rounds: Tyler Kroft (Rutgers) -- The 6-foot-5 1/2, 246-pound Kroft comes from a program the Patriots have tapped in recent years, which naturally puts him on the radar. But even if he attended a different school, his athletic skills, competitiveness as a blocker and pass-catching ability make him a versatile tight end worthy of consideration. He was a two-year starter. An ankle injury has affected his ability to work out, creating an added wrinkle for teams in the pre-draft process.

Middle rounds: Jesse James (Penn State) -- From a physical-traits standpoint, the 6-foot-7, 261-pound James stands out as one of the top prospects in 2015. He also put up some solid testing numbers (e.g. 37 1/2 inch vertical jump) and his big frame helped produce 11 touchdowns in 2014, which is a Penn State single-season record for the position. He started 25 games over the past two seasons, first breaking through in 2012 under former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.

Late rounds: Nick O'Leary (Florida State) -- The 6-foot-3 1/4, 252-pound O'Leary aligned in various spots while playing in 54 games (40 starts) over the past four seasons. He was the John Mackey Award winner as the nation's top tight end in 2014 and is the grandson of golfing great Jack Nicklaus. Known as a scrappy competitor who plays with an edge, he has some physical traits that might fall short of what some teams might desire (e.g. 29 3/4 arm length) and some of his testing results (e.g. 4.93 in the 40, a vertical of 30 1/2-inch) could be a concern to some clubs.

Late rounds: Randall Telfer (Southern Cal) -- One of the Patriots' confirmed pre-draft visits, the 6-foot-3 3/4, 250-pound Telfer is considered a high-intangibles player. He had foot surgery six weeks ago and hasn't been able to work out for teams. He has experience as a blocker and pass-catcher -- his role varied depending on the needs of the offense -- putting him closer to the combination category among this year's class. Telfer received his bachelor's degree in December and has been working toward his master's degree.

Beyond-the-first-round series

Monday: Off-the-line linebacker

Tuesday: Wide receiver

Wednesday: Cornerback

Thursday: Running back

Friday: Defensive tackle