- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Each day over the next 10 days, this space will focus on one position in the NFL draft by highlighting a prospect in Rounds 2-7 who might fit for the Patriots. With so much attention placed on the first round in mock drafts, "Beyond the first round" focuses on lesser-publicized options beyond the first 32 picks.
Second round: Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)
A "traits" prospect at 6-foot-5 1/4 and 304 pounds who runs well, has big hands (10") and long arms (34 3/4). He enters the draft after his junior season and had a better year in 2012 than 2013. The team selecting him will be banking on harnessing his traits into a more productive and consistent player. Seems to have some scheme flexibility.
Third round: Ed Stinson (Alabama)
The 6-foot-3 1/4, 287-pound Stinson figures to appeal to New England because he's shown a knack for executing some of the two-gap, edge-setting techniques employed by the Patriots. He's more likely to win with power than a speed rush.
Fourth round: Taylor Hart (Oregon)
He has NFL size at 6-foot-6 1/8 and 281 pounds, runs well for his size, and is a power rusher. Some project him more as a 3-4 defensive end, but he also might have some scheme flexibility.
Fifth round: Jeoffrey Pagan (Alabama)
At 6-foot-3 1/2 and 310 pounds, he enters the draft after his junior season, appears to have some scheme versatility with experience playing multiple techniques, and comes out of a pro-style program well respected by Bill Belichick.
Sixth round: Jamil Merrell (Rutgers)
The Rutgers-to-Patriots pipeline has been well-tapped and the 6-foot-4, 252-pound Merrell is one candidate to watch to add to it. His high-motor approach and solid tackling skills figure to be to the Patriots' liking.
Seventh round: Josh Mauro (Stanford)
By the final round of the draft, many teams are focusing on one standout trait and Mauro's build (6-6, 271) and upside could be appealing. He could potentially offer some scheme versatility as well.
(Round projections aided by Scouts Inc., NFL.com and independent analysis.)
Each day over the next 10 days, this space will focus on one position in the NFL draft by highlighting a prospect in Rounds 2-7 who might fit for the Patriots.