With six selections within the first three rounds, the Patriots figure to be one of the "power" players of this year's NFL Draft. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has a few ideas on players the Patriots might select, which are detailed in his first mock draft (Insider content).
Kiper gives the Patriots Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt at No. 17, and Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure at No. 28.
Defensive end in the 3-4 alignment projects as a significant need for the Patriots, and Kiper projects that Watt could also help the pass rush. "A smart player, he should adjust quickly to Bill Belichick's system," he says.
As for running back, the Patriots have just BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Thomas Clayton under contract, so they figure to be looking to add quality and depth either through the draft or free agency. But would they use a first-round pick on the position? Kiper lays out a scenario they would, noting that "the Pats have another pick just a handful of spots down the board and if they want a difference-maker at RB in a draft short on them, this is an option."