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Todd McShay takes a look at how the Patriots might draft

03.15.12 at 11:54 am ET
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ESPN’s Todd McShay joined Dale Arnold and Kirk Minihane on the Dennis and Callahan Show Thursday morning to talk about whom the Patriots might draft. Here is McShay’s take (and to read more ‘Potential Patriots’ click here):

(Regarding the possibility of drafting a wide receiver)

I can see them possibly, if you get to 22 or 23, somewhere in that range and there’€™s a player on the board that they’€™re looking for, a pass-rusher, basically, in my opinion, or possibly a defensive back that maybe slips. Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama. Mark Barron at safety from Alabama. Or let’€™s say an Andre Branch from Clemson, a pass rusher. A position of high value.

I like some wide receivers, and I know they need a wide receiver, but I just don’€™t know you always package picks and move up. To me, if they move up a few spots and don’€™t have to give up a whole lot, even one of their two second round picks to move up five or six spots to solidify a player they believe is smart enough to play in their front and be versatile enough to play 3-4 or a 4-3 at defensive end or outside linebacker and can do the things the they’€™re looking for which seems to be a rarity because they never draft pass rushers. Jermaine Cunningham is really the only one the last several years they’€™ve targeted in the early rounds. I think it’€™s worth it, but judging by their recent trend it’€™s something they like to do.

(Who are some wide receivers who might be possible fits with the Patriots?)

Justin Blackmon is obviously the premier wide receiver in this draft. After that there’€™s definitely a drop-off. Michael Floyd, to me, if he’€™s there at 27, take him. I know you don’€™t like drafting wide receivers. I agree with their draft philosophy in that regard. I would rarely draft a receiver in the first round. You go through and do the statistics, the trends, the history of wide receivers, you can get these guys, really good players, in the second, third and fourth, all the way down. I just don’€™t know why, unless you really like a player for what you’€™re doing, you’€™re going to spend a high pick.

Now if you have two first-rounders and you’€™re not able to move back, which you already know they’€™re working on a deal trying to work their way back, and a guy like Floyd, who is projected to go as high as 19 to the Bears, somewhere in that range, than it becomes a value pick. Kendall Wright, I just don’€™t see him fitting what they want to do. The Baylor wide receiver, who had huge production, to be frank he’€™s not smart enough and he doesn’€™t understand the pro-style of game and pick up what he needs to do and be productive early in his career. To me, one of those two second-round picks, or even later in the draft, there are so many good receivers later in this draft who are smart and understand the game. Guys like Danny Cole of Virginia Tech. A bigger receiver like Nick Toon who has had some durability issues, but is right around 6-foot-2 and his physical, you can get him in the late third, maybe the fourth round range.

There’€™s a lot of depth in wide receiver. I think I would focus on that defensive side of the ball with their first two or three picks in the draft because it’€™s where the strength is. They’€™re in a great position. The draft has five, maybe six, elite players if you count Justin Blackmon. Then there’€™s a drop-off. I think you’€™re talking about a whole bunch of guys in that 7-15 range that ordinarily you feel great about getting in that 20-30 range. There’€™s a whole lot of depth in the late first round, all the way through the second round and really all the way through the third round. For teams who are smart, know what they’€™re doing, can identify what they want and know how to play the game, can really get some quality players in that late first, second round range. Don’€™t be surprised if the Patriots use all four of those picks in the first couple of rounds because I think they’€™re going to identify the fact that this is a strong group where they’€™re drafting this year.

(What about Whitney Mercilus, who McShay has going to the Patriots in his latest mock draft?)

Mercilus, everyone is going to say one-year wonder, and you’€™re right. That’€™s the claim, it was just one year. There’€™s a difference between guys who are lazy and guys who are seniors and just play well. For Mercilus the light just finally came on. He just plays hard. He’€™s a good player who learned how to use his hands and became more instinctive. You see a guy who is explosive and has some speed and some athleticism, but he really worked out well and then you watch the tape and you see a guy who is just coming into his own. I feel like his best football is really ahead of him. The interesting part of it is there are so many good defensive ends in that late portion of the first round that I think really fit with what the Patriots are looking for.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Patriots, Todd McShay,
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