<
>

Mock thoughts: Smith's potential

Michael C. Wright and Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago both produce their first-round mock drafts, and this is what they envision unfolding for the Patriots:

Wright

No. 17 -- DE/OLB Aldon Smith (Missouri)

No. 28 -- RB Mark Ingram (Alabama)

Dickerson

No. 17 -- DE Cameron Jordan (California)

No. 28 -- OT Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin)

ANALYSIS: When looking at these two projections, one aspect that stands out is Aldon Smith's potential from a pass-rushing perspective. He enters the draft after his redshirt sophomore season and is considered "raw" by analysts, but at 6-foot-4, 263 pounds, he is one of the more explosive pass rushers in the draft. As Wright notes, Smith would project to outside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 defense, and there is some added risk because Smith played mostly 4-3 end at Missouri. Are the Patriots willing to take that risk in the first round? Their history says no, but Bill Belichick has annually surprised on draft day in one way or another. As for Ingram, while there has been good debate over the merits of selecting a running back in the first round, the No. 28 selection seems like a steal for him if he's available. The Jordan/Carimi combination would address the line of scrimmage, where the Patriots could use a boost. Carimi has versatility to play guard or tackle, which the Patriots generally value.