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Monday, April 25, 2011
Mock thoughts: Bowers & Solder

By Mike Reiss

As part of ESPN.com's divisional blog network, those who cover each division participated in a mock draft today, making selections for each team in their division.

That meant Tim Graham, who covers the AFC East, turned in the Patriots' draft cards at No. 17 and No. 28. He chose Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers at 17, and then followed up with Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder at 28.

Of Bowers, Graham writes, "If he's still on the board here, the Patriots likely won't be deterred by Bowers' knee injury. Bill Belichick always is searching for value and isn't afraid to draft injured players and give them time to heal."

Of Solder, Graham writes, "Another value pick for the Patriots. The Patriots must stabilize their offensive line. Left tackle Matt Light went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last season but is a free agent and will turn 33 in June."

ANALYSIS: Bowers is an interesting projection in the Patriots' scheme, as he likely wouldn't play the traditional "5" technique defensive end spot in the 3-4 but would line up at the end of the line of scrimmage as either a stand-up outside linebacker or be part of a more standard four-man front. He would be an outside-the-box type of selection for the team based on its history, but when it comes to pass rush, his 15.5 sacks last season jump off the page. At the least, he'd project to help in sub packages. Solder fits the Patriots' profile from an on- and off-field perspective, and could either be groomed as a left tackle of the future, or play right tackle while Sebastian Vollmer flips to the left side.