- 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 safety.
Second round: Deone Bucannon (Washington State)
The 6-foot-1, 211-pound Bucannon is one of the biggest, hardest-hitting prospects in this year's draft. He played every game over four seasons, was a three-time captain, and was one of the Patriots' 30 in-house visits.
Third round: Terrence Brooks (Florida State)
The 5-foot-10 7/8 and 198-pound Brooks is among the fastest prospects in this year's draft (4.42 time in the 40-yard dash), has cornerback/safety flexibility and extensive special teams experience.
Fourth round: Brock Vereen (Minnesota)
The brother of Patriots running back Shane Vereen, his versatility, football smarts and intangibles figure to be valued by a team like New England. The 5-foot-11 5/8 and 199-pound Vereen was a team captain and tested well (his 6.90 three-cone drill was among the best at the position).
Fifth round: Craig Loston (LSU)
One of the bigger safeties in the draft at 6-foot-0 5/8 and 217 pounds, he is viewed by analysts as being a tone-setter in run-support and would factor into the special teams mix as well. He has missed some time with injuries.
Sixth round: Dez Southward (Wisconsin)
After not working out at the combine, the 6-foot-0 1/4, 211-pound Southward tested well at his pro day, which could elevate his draft stock. He is one of the bigger safeties in this year's draft, played in 54 games over his four-year career, and first started playing football as a high school senior.
Seventh round: Vinnie Sunseri (Alabama)
The 5-foot-11 1/8 and 210-pound Sunseri missed the final six games of the season with a torn ACL. The quarterback of Alabama's secondary and a potential core special teamer, he comes from a football family as his father, Sal, is Florida State's defensive ends coach.
(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.