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Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Beyond the 1st round: Tight end

By Mike Reiss

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.

Troy Niklas
Troy Niklas looks to be a pure tight end, with the potential to really grow into the position.
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.)