- 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. Today, it's linebacker and outside linebacker, with the outside linebacker spot having some crossover with defensive end in the Patriots' multiple system.
Second round: Jerry Attaochu (Georgia Tech)
More of defensive end/outside linebacker type, he has experience in a pro-style system having played under Al Groh in a 3-4 defense (OLB) and then in a 4-3 his final year (DE). He is a high-effort pass-rusher who has good production in that area (31 1/2 career sacks). The 6-foot-3 1/4, 252-pound Attaochu was a team captain.
Third round: Adrian Hubbard (Alabama)
He has the ideal physical makeup for a defensive end/outside linebacker in the Patriots' system at 6-6 and 257 pounds with good arm length (33 1/2) and a 4.69 time in the 40-yard dash. Offers a mix of coverage abilities, playing the run, and rushing the passer.
Fourth round: Prince Shembo (Notre Dame)
At 6-1, 253 pounds, Shembo has 10.5-inch hands, good strength, and has played in a two- and three-point stance as well as on special teams. He has some versatility that could appeal to the Patriots, as his 38.5-inch vertical leap highlights his explosion.
Fifth round: Jordie Tripp (Montana)
The 6-2 3/4, 234-pound Tripp has a special-teams mentality with upside to potentially factor into the defensive mix as an off-the-line linebacker. His 6.89-second three-cone drill time was among the best at the position, he is a two-time team captain, and he is one of the more versatile prospects at the position.
Sixth round: Chris Kirksey (Iowa)
A two-time captain, he is 6-1 3/4 and 233 pounds, which is a bit undersized for what the Patriots have traditionally preferred. He's more of an off-the-line/sub linebacker projection with an initial fit on special teams. He is said to have outstanding intangibles.
Seventh round: LB Tyler Starr (South Dakota)
Outstanding time in the three-cone drill catches the eye (6.64) as he projects to a core role on special teams and could ultimately help as a coverage-based option or a sub-rusher as a potential end-of-the-line option. At 6-4 and 250 pounds, he has long arms (32 3/8) and is viewed as a high-effort player.
(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.