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Friday, April 15, 2011
Beyond the 1st round: Defensive back

By Mike Reiss

(Each day this week, ESPNBoston.com will highlight one position that the Patriots are projected to target in the NFL draft and highlight one prospect in rounds 2-7 who might fit. 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: CB Brandon Harris (Miami)
Bill Belichick spent time with Harris on campus during his annual scouting trip to Florida. The biggest knocks on him are size (5-9, 191) and a lack of interceptions last season (1). On the flip side, the Pro Football Weekly draft preview calls him a "confident, competitive, instinctive, physical corner with a balanced skill set."

Third round: S/CB Marcus Gilchrist (Clemson) 
A team captain, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Gilchrist could fit on the corner or safety, and also has experience returning kicks. The Pro Football Weekly draft preview noted he's a player who "knows everyone's assignment and can line up a defense." Those characteristics figure to be appealing to the Patriots.

Fourth round: CB Brandon Burton (Utah)
Burton (5-11, 190) is the type of corner who could be effective matching up against taller receivers, which is an area the Patriots struggled at times last season. Burton enters the draft after his junior season, and while he has top-notch leaping ability, analysts note that his playing style is not especially physical.

Fifth round: S Tyler Sash (Iowa)
With a strong special teams mentality, Sash (6-0, 211) will likely carve out his initial niche in that area of the game initially. He has proven to be a playmaker with a high interception total, while one knock on him is that he will need to improve his strength.

Sixth round: CB Chimdi Chekwa (Ohio State)
One of the fastest corners in the draft, the 5-foot-11, 191-pound Chekwa could add value on special teams (e.g. gunner). He started the last three seasons, and while he runs well, the Pro Football Weekly draft preview points out "he's a better track athlete than football player."

Seventh round: CB DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami)
Van Dyke (6-0, 176)  might be viewed as having a "bulk deficiency" by the Patriots, but he could add value on special teams, where he has experience. One question the Patriots will ask was why Van Dyke wasn't a starter in 2010. Bill Belichick spent time with him on his annual scouting trip to Florida.

(Round projections aided by Pro Football Weekly draft value chart and Pro Football Weekly draft preview.)