Wes Bunting of the National Football Post produces his first mock draft of the offseason, and he splits the Patriots' two first-round picks between offense and defense.
At No. 17, Bunting gives the Patriots cornerback Prince Amukamara (Nebraska).
"The Pats have more pressing needs, but with plenty of picks in the first couple rounds they can go with a versatile defensive back like Amukamara, who I can see playing all over their defensive secondary," Bunting writes.
At No. 28, the choice is offensive lineman Benjamin Ijalana (Villanova).
"A downright dominant small-school blocker with impressive movement skills, good bend and a long set of arms," Bunting writes.
ANALYSIS: This could be a repeat of the way the 2010 draft fell for the Patriots. At the time the Patriots selected cornerback Devin McCourty, they had other pressing needs. But they didn't force a pick based on need and instead took the best player available -- which is a winning formula. This could set up a cornerback depth chart of McCourty, Leigh Bodden and Amukamara, which would rival most NFL cornerback trios, while intensifying competition for the likes of Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler, Jonathan Wilhite, Tony Carter and Co. The key in this scenario would be for the Patriots to strengthen the line of scrimmage/pass rush with other picks, which Bunting begins to address with the selection of Ijalana.