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Reviewing Kiper-McShay mock draft for the Patriots

On Thursday night, ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay hosted a three-round mock draftInsider in which they alternated as "general managers" on a pick-by-pick basis. As usual, it was entertaining and informative.

Some thoughts:

1. The guard position, arguably the team's top need, remains unfilled in this scenario. Perhaps the Patriots fill it at the top of round four, like they did last year with center Bryan Stork, but it was notable how some strong guards started coming off the board between picks 32 and 64.

2. Defensive back Eric Rowe was part of our "beyond the first round" series, so that selection would be richer than initially projected. He has safety-corner flexibility.

3. At No. 32, Oregon offensive tackle Jake Fisher, Southern Cal receiver Nelson Agholor and Alabama safety Landon Collins were three players in that range who might have drawn consideration from this perspective.

4. Receiver Dorial Green-Beckham's talent can't be denied, but does he check out off the field? My hunch would be no for the Patriots, but it's an intriguing thought.

5. I was focusing on bigger run-stuffers, which is why the 6-foot-2 7/8, 293-pound Xavier Cooper wasn't viewed as a potential target. One question would be if the Patriots think he duplicates what they already have in Dominique Easley (2014 first-rounder) and Chris Jones.

6. Linebacker Shaq Thompson could be an interesting fit as a "tweener" who shows up initially on special teams and potentially finds a niche role on defense as a rookie (perhaps in a sub package). He doesn't have the size of a prototypical linebacker in the team's scheme, which makes him a wild card of sorts. That's been an area the Patriots have been looking at adding depth.