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Mock thoughts: Focus on D

2/15/2012

Wes Bunting of National Football Post puts together the third version of his mock draft and it has a defensive focus for the Patriots.

At No. 27, Bunting gives the Patriots defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State).

"He’s a tall, long-armed defensive lineman with an explosive first step, can penetrate and possesses some scheme versatility. Seems like an ideal late first-round Patriots type pick," Bunting writes.

At No. 31, Alabama safety Mark Barron is the pick.

"New England has had to piece together their secondary this year, but in terms of talent they could certainly use an upgrade at a number of spots," Bunting writes. "Barron is a smart, instinctive safety with good ball skills, can play in the box and be effective bumping/running with tight ends underneath."

In his previous mock draft, Bunting had the Patriots picking Barron at No. 27 and Illinois defensive lineman Whitney Mercilus with their other first-rounder. So at this time, Barron's stock is dipping in Bunting's eyes, perhaps because he's expected to miss the combine due to double hernia surgery.