- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots have had some solid success in the seventh round in Bill Belichick's tenure, using the draft's final round to take some risks and think a little bit outside the box.
Examples of seventh-round "hits" by the Patriots include running back Patrick Pass, receiver David Givens, outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, quarterback Matt Cassel, receiver Julian Edelman, defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.
Given that track record, the team's two seventh-round picks this year -- Illinois defensive end/outside linebacker Michael Buchanan and Rutgers linebacker Steve Beauharnais -- shouldn't be overlooked.
Buchanan is an edge player who projects to join the group including Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Justin Francis, Jermaine Cunningham, Jake Bequette, Marcus Benard, Jason Vega and possibly top 2013 Patriots draft pick Jamie Collins.
Buchanan seems like a worthy investment at this point in the draft, an example of a player whose stock was hurt by the timing in which he entered the draft. Because Buchanan had what some considered a disappointing senior season at Illinois, his stock slipped.
From this perspective, any pass-rusher with some unique traits is worth a look. A team can never put enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
As for Beauharnais, some might joke that Bill Belichick had adopted the "best Rutgers player available" philosophy as Beauharnais is the third Scarlet Knight picked by the team this year.
But in truth, Beauharnais was expected to be picked in the middle rounds and thus, in the eyes of some, represents a solid value in the seventh. He's considered smart, physical and versatile.
The Patriots were thin at linebacker last season, which forced them to move Rob Ninkovich from end to strongside linebacker at times, but they've built some better depth in the draft and Beauharnais could be part of the mix if he emerges on special teams.
Looking ahead, with the Patriots not selecting an offensive lineman, that figures to be one of the top areas they pursue in rookie free agency.
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