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Thursday, February 6, 2014
Kiper/McShay mock draft reax: Patriots

By Mike Reiss

ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay released their latest mock drafts on Thursday and, as always, it sparks plenty of thoughts from a Patriots-based perspective.

Kiper sticks with his pick from Mock Draft 1.0 , Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro, while adding Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas as a fall-back option if Amaro isn't available.

McShay's pick for the Patriots in his Mock Draft 1.0, Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, is off the board earlier in Mock Draft 2.0 . So McShay slots Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt to the Patriots.

The picks by McShay and Kiper hit areas where the Patriots figure to be looking for help.

That Tuitt might potentially be on the board at No. 29 is notable, as that is a change for both Kiper and McShay from their first mock drafts. I haven't seen much of him as a player, but from a height-weight-body makeup standpoint, Tuitt (6-foot-6, 303 pounds) has a desirable makeup and comes from a Brian Kelly-led Notre Dame program that seems to be well-respected by coach Bill Belichick.

From a big-picture standpoint, when I think of teams hitting on a big defensive lineman later in the first round, the Steelers' 2011 first-round selection of Ohio State's Cameron Heyward comes to mind. Heyward, after a slow start, seemed to take a big step forward in 2013.

One would think the Patriots would be thrilled to duplicate that type of scenario at No. 29.