- 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 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.
Second round: Troy Niklas (Notre Dame)
At 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, he is a pure tight end when compared to others at the position who might be viewed more as bigger receivers. He has good size, strength and upside to develop into a solid combination tight end as he's only played the position for two years.
Third round: Marcel Jensen (Fresno State)
Some physical traits stand out -- 6-foot-6, 259 pounds with 34 7/8 arm length for a wide catch radius. Looks like he has some combination potential to be a factor in-line and split wide.
Fourth round: Trey Burton (Florida)
While much of the pre-draft buzz has centered on Texas Tech's Jace Amaro as an early-round option as a "move" tight end, the Patriots might view Burton as a better fit from a value perspective. He's undersized (6-2, 224) but his excellent 3-cone drill (7.14) and solid intangibles are among the things that caught our eye.
Fifth round: Richard Rodgers (California)
Even at 6-foot-4 and 257 pounds, he likely projects more as a "move" tight end as he played more of an inside receiver role last year. Rodgers enters the draft after his junior season, and his father Richard currently serves as Carolina's special-teams coach.
Sixth round: Crockett Gillmore (Colorado State)
At 6-foot-5 7/8 and 260 pounds, Gillmore has NFL-type size, with long arms (33 3/4) and big hands (10 3/8), which are traits that figure to appeal to clubs. He is similar to Fresno State's Marcel Jensen in that he has ideal physical measureables with room to grow.
Seventh round: Rob Blanchflower (UMass)/Arthur Lynch (Georgia)
Two local products are paired together, as Blanchflower played in high school at St. John's-Shrewsbury (Mass.) and Lynch is from Dartmouth, Mass. They are both hard-nosed, team-first players with room to grow.
(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 Patriots.