I haven’t done a mock draft in a long time, so I thought I’d give it a shot again. It’s kind of hard to do, because you don’t know who’s going to be aroud, but this is what I’ve got:
Round 1, Pick 7: Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio State
If Gholston is available, I think he’ll be the pick. Gholston is exactly what the Patriots need on the outside. He can fill the pass rushing void left by Rosey Colvin, but he also provides strength and speed (4.5 40!), he can get off the edge, shed blocks, and make big hits. I think the big thing is that he can easily transition from DE to OLB in the Pats’ 3-4 system. There are a lot of other guys that I think would be great fits, but they may be too much of a stretch at this point.
Other options: Aqib Talib, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Derrick Harvey, Keith Rivers
Round 2, Pick 62: Curtis Lofton, ILB, Oklahoma
The key word with Lofton is INSIDE linebacker. Lofton is accustomed to the 3-4, and would make a great addition on the indside. He is strong, has good instincts, can shed blocks, and might just be an ideal fit. And don’t give me the old: “Belichick doesn’t draft linebackers early!” Although it hasn’t happened, it doesn’t mean it won’t. Belichick has been privately working out a lot of linebacker prospects, and Lofton would make a lot of sense if he is around here. If he’s not, J Leman is another option.
Round 3, Pick 69: Terrell Thomas, CB, USC
Orginally, I had the Pats selecting Ray Rice here. And even if he was around, we need a cornerback desperately. Thomas is big at 6’1″, he is fast, and has good hands. If Thomas is around here, he would be perfect. I think he would be starting by the end of the season.
Round 3, Pick 95: Duane Brown, OT, Virginia Tech
As shown by the outcome of the Super Bowl, one of the Patriots big weaknesses is right tackle. Brown might not be around, he might not be the best answer, but he could compete to start his rookie year, and with his size and strength, would be able to be a starter down the road.