Here’s the chalk: Patriots take a pass rusher in Round 1, and worry about their other needs with their three picks in Round 2.
A lot of people have pointed to Michigan’s Brandon Graham. TCU’s Jerry Hughes has been in Foxborough. And Sergio Kindle, from a physical standpoint, might be the best fit.
As such, both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have the Patriots addressing their pass-rushing need at 22 in their latest mock drafts. Kiper has Kindle in that slot, while McShay has USC’s Everson Griffen going there with Kindle (who he deems a good fit for New England) gone at 13 to San Francisco.
But another pair of dueling mock drafts — from Pro Football Weekly and the National Football Post (via Yahoo!) — are thinking outside of that box. Their take:
PFW — Earl Thomas, FS, Texas: What better way to defend in a passing league than to load up the back end with two rangy safeties who can leverage the field. To stop high-octane passing games such as the Saints’, Bill Belichick could greatly benefit from more deep-safety help.
NFP — Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee: Williams isn’t an ideal five-technique, but the idea of having him inside next to Vince Wilfork(notes) when the Pats go with a four-man line could make opposing offenses think twice about running the football.
Both interesting takes. While I’d doubt the Patriots would take another safety (they’ve invest two Top 40 picks in the position in the last three years), Thomas is considered a top playmaker and has the Will Muschamp connection to Bill Belichick that Kindle does. And Williams (who has visited Foxborough) would certainly help shore up the problems in the team’s run defense.