Mock thoughts: Branch & Gilmore

March, 3, 2012
3/03/12
8:50
AM ET
Chad Reuter of NFL Network produces his post-combine mock draft and it has a defensive flavor for the Patriots.

Reuter envisions a scenario where the Patriots select defensive end/outside linebacker Andre Branch with the 27th pick. That 27th pick was originally owned by the Saints and won't be affected by the league's investigation/findings into the Saints' bounties.
"Though Branch played defensive end during his career at Clemson, he did drop into the short flat occasionally and showed some promise," Reuter writes. "His measurements and test results confirm he has the ability to move into a pass-rushing role for a 3-4 team at the next level. The Patriots’ use of multiple fronts would also take advantage of his versatility, and veteran rush end/linebackers Andre Carter and Mark Anderson are free agents."

Branch showed up on our radar at the combine as well. The Patriots haven't drafted a Clemson player under Bill Belichick (2000-present), so this would represent a breakthrough of sorts.

At the 31st spot, Reuter sees South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore as the pick. He also showed up on our radar at the combine.
"Teams knew Gilmore was a willing hitter outside, but his 4.4 speed and excellent quickness in agility tests could have sealed a first-round slot," Reuter writes. "New England certainly will be looking to upgrade its secondary whether or not it chooses to keep both first-round selections."

To read Reuter's mock draft, CLICK HERE.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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