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Five players Patriots should hope fall to them

04.24.13 at 8:51 am ET

Think of this as our way of trying to preemptively save face. We put in months of work saying who makes sense for the Patriots, who to expect them to draft, etc., only to be way off by the time Bill Belichick makes that first selection.

So, as a means of trying to cover more ground and at least be able to say we kind of said the Pats might draft the guy they end up taking, we’€™re putting together three lists for the first round: five guys the Pats should hope fall to them, five good matches and five players for whom they could potentially reach. We’€™ll start it off with five players they should hope fall to them.

Guys left off this list include those sure to go in the top 15 (Dee Milliner, Star Lotulelei, Ziggy Ansah, etc.) as well as good players who don’€™t project well to New England. For example, Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson may very well be a star in the NFL, but he needs to be developed more than the other top receivers in this draft. The Pats haven’€™t been able to develop a top receiver since Deion Branch, so they’€™re better off sticking to more NFL-ready players.

These players are in no particular order.

Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

The Pats would seem to be set for now with Devin McCourty and Adrian Wilson, but the jury still is out on Tavon Wilson, and Vaccaro has both the smarts and the cover skills to make him a serious difference-maker.

D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston

If selected where he’€™s now expected (early to mid-first round), Hayden might go down as one of the biggest risers in the history of the draft. He was a potential late-round pick after a near-death experience in practice ended his second year of FBS play. Hayden is an instinctive corner with plus ball skills and more than holds his own against the run.

Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

With the exception of Armond Armstead (who definitely is something of a wild card), the Pats aren’€™t getting younger or better on their interior defensive line. Vince Wilfork isn’€™t going to be around forever, and Williams has drawn comparisons to Geno Atkins.

Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

Instinctive and fast with good size (the 5-foot-11½, 190-pound Trufant ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine), he is the younger brother of 10-year NFL veteran Marcus Trufant.

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

This pick would create a bit of a redundancy on the roster given that the Pats signed Danny Amendola, but there’€™s always room for a talent like Austin. The 5-foot-8½, 174-pounder projects to be an elite slot receiver given his speed and precision in route-running.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, D.J. Hayden, Kenny Vaccaro,



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