- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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CBSSports.com draft analysts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler provide their latest draft projections, and they both have a similar look.
At No. 27, both envision a scenario where Alabama cornerback Dre' Kirkpatrick is the pick. Then they circle back at No. 31 with some help on the edges -- Rang with Syracuse end/outside linebacker Chandler Jones and Brugler with Boise State end/outside linebacker Shea McClellin.
Rang on Kirkpatrick: "Despite investing several high-round picks into their secondary over the past few years, the Patriots continue to struggle to defend the pass. Kirkpatrick has greater size and physicality than any of New England's current cornerbacks and while some have concerns about his maturity, he'd likely present too much value for the Patriots to ignore at this point in the draft."
Brugler on Kirkpatrick: "Despite being a top-15 talent, there is a chance Kirkpatrick could fall to the later stages of the first round because of some off-field concerns and scheme fit. The Patriots, who ranked just 31st in the league in pass yards allowed last season, will have their eyes on a defensive back and would get excellent value if the former 'Bama corner falls this far. Kirkpatrick has the intriuging length and range to also line-up at safety in some formations."
Rang on Jones: "With the Patriots expected to maintain at least some elements of the 4-3 defense that served as their base scheme last year, adding talent and youth at defensive end is required. Former starter Mark Anderson left via free agency and his battery-mate, Andre Carter, is recovering from a torn quad. Jones' length, power and high-revving motor make him a natural replacement candidate."
Brugler on McClellin: "The Patriots need to add pass rushers to their defensive arsenal to take some pressure off the secondary. After a good, but not great, career at Boise State, McClellin has been arguably the biggest the draft's largest riser, due in large part to his ability to stand up and place in space, which he showed at the Senior Bowl. He has a nose for the ball with the natural instincts and agility to get after the passer and also drop in coverage."
Both Rang and Brugler also add second-round picks to their projections.