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Friday, April 27, 2012
Highlighting some 2nd-round options

By Field Yates

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots own a pair of second-day draft picks, No. 48 and No. 62 overall, and will look to continue to fill in roster holes after making a splash in round one.

The selections, which are both in the second round, are the Patriots’ final two picks of the draft as it currently stands. Although with Bill Belichick leading the draft control room, it’s possible that New England is poised to move back in order to accumulate extra selections, a tactic the head coach has notoriously employed in previous years.

New England targeted defense in round one, trading up on two occasions to select Chandler Jones, an athletic defensive end from Syracuse, and later Dont’a Hightower, a burly linebacker out of Alabama.

We highlighted a couple of players that the Patriots may be interested in round two in our mock projection released Friday morning, and let’s continue to focus of potential picks at areas of need.

CORNERBACK
The Patriots allowed the second-most passing yards in NFL history during the 2011 season, and the team often turned to wide receiver Julian Edelman to player in the slot as a cornerback.  The team is counting on the healthy return of 2011 second-round pick Ras-I Dowling to the lineup, and also added veteran Will Allen during free agency, but may still further address the cornerback position.

Trumaine Johnson, Montana: Johnson has excellent size for the position (6’2”, 204 pounds), and was a standout at the Division I-AA level. He may see his name called early in round two.

Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama: Jenkins was dismissed from Florida and wound up at North Alabama for the 2011 season.  His talents are unquestioned, but his off-field baggage shied teams away from picking him in round one.

Brandon Boykin, Georgia: This nifty slot corner did it all in college, including scoring a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams as a Bulldog.  He could provide value as both a slot cornerback and potential punt returner.

Josh Robinson, Central Florida: No player ran faster at the Combine, but Robinson is more than just a workout warrior.  He recorded 10 total interceptions during his three college seasons.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Adding Chandler Jones in the first round brings versatility to the edge of the Patriots' defensive front, but the team relied heavily on Vince Wilfork in 2011 as its interior anchor. Finding some beef to supplement Wilfork and fellow starter Kyle Love would go a long way in New England.

Jerel Worthy, Michigan State: Once viewed as a sure-fire first round pick, Worthy slipped into round two and should be a target of several teams looking to improve their run defense.

Devon Still, Penn State: Like Worthy, Still heard his name as a possibility in the first round during the mock draft season.  The 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year has very good size (6’5”, 303 pounds).

Kendall Reyes, Connecticut: A local product from the state of New Hampshire, Reyes was a captain during his time at Connecticut.  Some believe he is more of a one-gap player than a two-gapper, so he may not be a perfect fit in New England.

Brandon Thompson, Clemson: Thomspon impressed at the Combine by putting up 34 reps on the 225-pound bench press, and is considered capable of contributing both as a run-stuffer and pass rusher from the inside.

SAFETY
As mentioned previously, the Patriots struggled mightily versus the pass in 2011.  Injuries played a part with the safeties, as top performer Patrick Chung was limited to just eight games, and the second round offers players who can add both depth and value.

George Iloka, Boise State: This imposing safety (6’4, 225 pounds) didn’t record any interceptions during his senior season, but he still appears capable of making big plays at the next level.

Antonio Allen, South Carolina: This tackling-machine had four games during 2011 with 10+ tackles, including a 17-tackle effort in the season opener against East Carolina.

Brandon Taylor, LSU: Taylor didn’t attract the same attention that his college secondary teammates Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu did, but he was a productive member of arguably the best defense in college football in 2011.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Although the Patriots currently have 10 wide receivers on the roster, the team still may look to find more competition heading into training camp.  Most of the veteran receivers on the roster likely wont be counted on to contribute on special teams, so Belichick may chase a youngster who can help cover and tackle on the core units (punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return).

Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech: This physical specimen, who some believe could become the best receiver from this draft, may not last long on day two, as the Rams at the top of the round would make sense as a landing spot.

Rueben Randle, LSU: Randle has tremendous size (6’4”, 208 pounds) and was productive during his final season in college, totaling 917 yards on 53 receptions.  He too is a player that may not last long in the second round.

Alshon Jeffrey, South Carolina: Production has never been a problem for Jeffrey, but questions about his ability to control his weight hurt his draft stock.

Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers: He broke Larry Fitzgerald’s Big East record for most receptions in a single-season in 2011 with 115, and his size and soft hands make him an intriguing pro prospect. He ran a 4.65 forty at the NFL Combine, however, which appears to have caused his stock to slip.