Since I'll be spending the day on jury duty today and with the NFL Draft now just over two weeks away, this seems like as good a time as any to take a peek at the various mock drafts online and see what a number of experts say when it comes to the Patriots and the number 22 pick (there is a train of thought that took me from jury duty to mock drafts, promise):
Analyst Bucky Brooks has New England taking Penn State DT Jared Odrick - "The losses of Jarvis Green and Richard Seymour over the past year threaten to cripple the interior of the Patriots defense. Odrick is a high-motor defender with the skills and versatility to play multiple roles in Bill Belichick's defense."
The site has four reporters/analyst making their first-round picks:
Rob Rang also picks PSU's Jared Odrick (pictured, right) - "The long-term contract for Vince Wilfork solved one problem, but the Patriots suffered last year without Richard Seymour. The loss of backup Jarvis Green only makes finding help along the defensive line even more of a concern. Belichick loves versatility and good technique in defensive linemen and Odrick brings that."
Chad Reuter thinks the pick is Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham - "They allowed Ben Watson and Chris Baker to relocate and Bill Belichick drafted Watson and Daniel Graham in the first round."
Clark Judge makes a familiar choice: Odrick - "The Patriots fizzled last season not because they didn't have enough offense but because they didn't have enough defense -- and rewind the videotape of that playoff loss to Baltimore. Odrick could fill in for Jarvis Green, who left for Denver."
National Football Post
Wes Bunting says Michigan OLB Brandon Graham is the way to go - "Graham is an ideal hybrid pass rusher who has the skill set to instantly improve the Pats' ability to create pressure off the edge."
Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, who don't always agree on draft picks, both say that Michigan's Graham (pictured left) is best for New England [available via ESPN Insider, subscription needed]:
Kiper - "New England needs help at OLB, and Graham could fill that hole. He has carried the momentum from a dominating season -- he led the nation in tackles for loss -- to an impressive Senior Bowl and combine. Graham is strong, uses great quickness, and leverage and pursues well against the run."
McShay - "New England re-signed OLB Tully Banta-Cain but need to continue to address the position and bolster its pass rush. Graham has been impressive during the pre-draft process and has the burst, tenacity and consistency to make an immediate impact."
CBSSports' Rang extends his mock to round two, where the Patriots have three picks. He selected Notre Dame WR Golden Tate for New England at number 44, Florida QB/deity Tim Tebow at number 47, and Arizona TE Gronkowski with the 53rd pick.