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Thursday, March 21, 2013
Mock thoughts: DE in first round?

By Field Yates

A year after moving up to take Chandler Jones, would the Patriots consider adding another defensive end in the first round of this year's draft? That's the idea presented by NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, who has released his latest first-round mock draft, in which he slots SMU defensive end Margus Hunt as the pick for the Patriots at 29.

Hunt has wowed during the pre-draft process, posting some of the most impressive physical numbers among all prospects. He checked in at 6-foot-8, 277 pounds, and with 33 3/4-inch arms, while recording a sensational 38 reps on the bench press and a blazing 4.60 forty time. Those numbers suggest a high ceiling for Hunt and have him in the first-round discussion.

Jeremiah classifies Hunt as a "wild card" in this draft, and part of the risk in taking Hunt in the first round is that he'll be 25 by the time the 2013 season starts (for perspective, Aaron Hernandez will be 23 and in the fourth year of his career). He had solid, but not outstanding, production during his senior year (8.0 sacks), and remains a developmental prospect in many ways.

As Jeremiah also alludes to, Hunt is an elite kick blocker who set an NCAA record with nine field goal blocks during his career (he blocked seven kicks in just his rookie season). Special teams is something that head coach Bill Belichick has always valued, and timely blocked kicks have helped the team in critical moments during previous seasons. It's easy to see why Hunt has been so successful with his size and explosiveness.

The Patriots have already had veterans John Abraham and Dwight Freeney in for visits this offseason, suggesting an interest in adding at least one more pass rusher to their defense. Hunt presents another option to fill that role.