Exploring Upshaw as option at 27

In the third-annual ESPNBoston.com mock draft, the Patriots were on the clock at the 27th overall pick and selected Alabama defensive end/outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

It was considered a surprise that he was available, but as the pre-draft process has unfolded, there is a growing belief among some analysts that it could indeed happen.

"Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw may still be available in the latter portion of round one. Early 2nd round is not out of the realm of possibility," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper wrote on Twitter recently.

In fact, in his most recent "Grade A" draft piece on ESPN.com -- in which he gives each team players that would result in a top draft -- Kiper slots Upshaw to the Patriots as well.

"This is a team that needed to make big strides with personnel on defense, and in Upshaw the Patriots get a talented, smart pass-rusher who could be scheme-versatile on the edge. And he can get to the quarterback," Kiper writes.

The other picks from Kiper through the third round:

Rd 1 (31) CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

Rd 2 (48) CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida

Rd 2 (62) G Brandon Brooks, Miami (OH)

Rd 3 (93) WR Chris Givens, Wake Forest

To read Kiper's piece (Insider content), CLICK HERE.