2012 NFL Mock Draft: New England Patriots 4-Round Mock Draft
This year's NFL draft features some of the best defensive talent in a while, and that is music to New England's ears.
The Patriots' secondary struggled this past season but did begin to jell toward the end of their season.
Year after year, coach Bill Belichick has a method of going about the NFL draft. The Patriots rarely take high-profile players, rarely stick with their first pick and always surprise their fans with "no-names" who turn out to be great players, i.e. Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins et al.
With April approaching fast and the scouting combine winding down, each NFL team has had a chance to scout the top players coming out of college.
If the Patriots are smart, and everyone knows they will be, they have the chance to bolster their defense and start proving people wrong about their inability to defend.
Round 1: Picks 27 and 31
27th pick: Mark Barron, safety from Alabama, 6'1", 213lbs., 4.56 40-yard dash
Everyone knows the Patriots struggled in the secondary this year, but toward the end of the season they seemed to start jelling.
Look for Barron to step in immediately and complement Patrick Chung back in the strong safety position.
This guy is strong, athletic and clearly the best available strong safety, which the Patriots clearly lacked this season rotating James Ihedigbo and Sergio Brown.
31th pick: Dont'a Hightower, linebacker from Alabama, 6'4", 260lbs., 4.62 40-yard dash
In my opinion, the Patriots will trade this pick to stockpile draft picks for later rounds. But since that is not the idea of this article, I believe the Patriots will take the best available defensive player. That player is Hightower.
What every analyst and supposed expert said throughout the whole season was how bad the defense was.
Well, taking two players from the best defensive team in the country isn't a bad start to making that problem better.
Hightower has the potential to be an All-Pro in the blink of an eye. Along with Mayo and Brandon Spikes, this could turn into one of the best linebacker corps in the league.
Round 2: Picks 48 and 63
48th pick: Vinny Curry, defensive end/outside linebacker, Marshall, 6'3", 266lbs., 4.98 40-yard dash
With this pick, I believe New England will take Curry out of Marshall. Although Curry may be taken earlier, I believe he will still be available in the middle of the second round.
With their last pick, I had the Patriots taking a LB. So with this pick they will take a powerful, quick and extremely aware defensive end who could learn the ropes under Andre Carter and Mark Anderson.
Not many people knew about Curry throughout the season, but if he hangs around this late, look for the Patriots to capture him as a steal.
63rd pick: Nick Toon, wide receiver, Wisconsin, 6'2", 215lbs., 4.54 40-yard dash
Toon is a wide receiver who may go overshadowed in this draft. He is a big, physical receiver with great hands.
Although the Steelers' Mike Wallace is a possibility for New England, it is not likely he will suit up in Foxborough next season, so the Patriots need to look to give Brady as many threats as possible.
Along with his physical play, Toon is great after the catch and wins a lot of one-on-one battles.
Round 3: Pick 94
94th pick: Michael Brewster, center, Ohio State, 6'2", 312lbs., 29 reps in bench press
The Patriots must address the center position with Dan Connolly and Dan Koppen not under contract for next season.
This guy would be a great replacement in New England. He is not the biggest guy, but he is quite the athlete.
He is projected to be a late-third-round pick or early-fourth-rounder, but I think the Patriots should snag him.
Brewster is durable and extremely smart. He would be a great fit for the Patriots.
Round 4: Pick 126
126th pick: Brandon Brooks, offensive guard, Miami (Ohio), 6'5", 353lbs.
Brooks is listed as an offensive guard who has the potential to go as high as the late-third round or early-fourth round.
With Brian Waters' contract uncertain for the near future and also considering retirement, Belichick will look to draft an extra guard in April.
New England has other needs to address first, but if this big 350lb-plus lineman is still available, look for the Patriots to pick him up and groom him well.
One of his best attributes is his physical play, but besides that he has some extra weight he must take off before becoming a force in the trenches.
Most likely, New England will trade away one of its top-three picks in this year's draft.
However, if the Pats decide to hold onto their picks, I believe these guys fit their needs extremely well.
Look for Belichick to address the defense first but also look to grab a few offensive linemen throughout the day.
If the Patriots take a look at some of these guys on draft day, they will have a successful draft and be ready to defend their AFC championship title.