- Mike Reiss, ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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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 New England 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 cornerback.
Second round: Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska)
With the Patriots potentially shifting to more press coverage with the acquisitions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, it highlights the possibility of focusing on bigger, physical cornerbacks. Jean-Baptiste (6-foot-2 5/8 and 218 pounds) fits that mold, but he might not make it to the bottom of the second round after an impressive Senior Bowl week.
Third round: Jaylen Watkins (Florida)
A consistent performer over the past three seasons who has scheme flexibility between cornerback and safety, the 5-foot-11 1/2, 194-pound Watkins runs well and plays physical against the run. His 22 reps on the bench press highlight his strength.
Fourth round: Dontae Johnson (N.C. State)
His combination of size (6-foot-2 1/8, 200 pounds), speed (4.45 in the 40) and position flexibility could put him on the radar, as he's played both cornerback and safety. He also has special-teams experience.
Fifth round: Marqueston Huff (Wyoming)
A team captain who played 49 games over his college career, he has experience at cornerback and safety, and would project to a special teams role as well. The 5-foot-11 1/8, 196-pound Huff runs well (4.49 in the 40) and has some traits that could warrant a look if he's available at this point.
Sixth round: Aaron Colvin (Oklahoma)
This pick would fall into the Marcus Cannon category of too much value to pass up at this point of the draft, assuming Colvin is available as he recovers from a torn ACL in January at the Senior Bowl. Colvin might spend his first year on the physically unable to perform list where he wouldn't count against the roster and could be worked into the mix in 2015.
Seventh round: Bennett Jackson (Notre Dame)
A team captain, the 5-foot-11 7/8, 196-pound Jackson has good size and his three-cone drill time of 6.75 was among the best at his position as he tested well at the combine. His toughness was reflected in how he played through a shoulder injury, and he also was a regular on special teams.
(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 New England Patriots.