Mock thoughts: Sheard shows up

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
12:00
PM ET
Chad Reuter of NFLDraftScout.com unveils his latest mock draft, and in a twist not seen from draft analysts to this point, he slots Pittsburgh defensive end/outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard to the Patriots at No. 28.

"Bill Belichick found a starter from the Big East last year late in the first round, why not go back to that conference for an NFL-ready pass rusher?" Reuter writes.

At the No. 17 pick, Reuter envisions a scenario in which Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan is the pick.

ANALYSIS: When speaking with an NFL general manager at the league's annual meeting, the topic was some of the top prospects for 3-4 teams seeking outside linebackers. Sheard's name was in the discussion. If he checks out off the field, he fits the on-field profile of what the Patriots would be seeking at that position, with long arms and some explosive pass-rush skills. He is coming off a nine-sack season and projects to rank highly among 3-4 teams. As Reuter notes, he is someone to keep on the radar, especially into the second round if he's available. Meanwhile, the NFL GM viewed Jordan as a "perfect fit" for what the Patriots do, envisioning him as an end in the team's 3-4 alignment.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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