New England Patriots Mock Draft: Post-Free Agency Predictions for Every Round

James Ermilio@jimmyermilioCorrespondent IIIApril 3, 2013

New England Patriots Mock Draft: Post-Free Agency Predictions for Every Round

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    With three weeks until the start of the 2013 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots have just five picks.

    With that in mind, there's not much room for error for a team that chose not to address all its needs in free agency.

    Though the Pats have over $13 million left in salary cap room, there aren't many impact free agents left.  That means they'll need to hit on some of their high picks.

    Let's mock this year's draft, with an eye towards the team's biggest holes.

Round 1: DT Kawann Short, Purdue

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    I mocked Short to the Pats two months ago, and I'm sticking by it.

    The Pats' biggest need (and one they didn't touch in free agency) is an interior DT to pair with Vince Wilfork in the 4-3.  They have plenty of stout two-gap DTs, but they need someone who can provide a rush against the pass.  

    Short can do that with his wide array of pass rush moves, complementing Wilfork and second-year DE Chandler Jones nicely against the pass.  Here's WalterFootball's take on him:

    Entering his senior season, Short looks like a first- or second-round pick. He has one big thing going for him, and that is his interior pass-rushing skills. It is hard for NFL teams to find good pass-rushers from the defensive tackle position. Constantly, 4-3 defenses are in dire need of a interior pass rushers. Even though he hasn't been a superstar, Short's consistency in terms of getting to the quarterback could easily push him well into the first round. 

    Jones, Wilfork, Short and a veteran like John Abraham could make for a formidable pass-rushing unit and take a lot of pressure off the Pats' back seven.

Round 2: OL Barrett Jones, Alabama

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    Three-time National Champion Barrett Jones wouldn't be a sexy pick, but he makes a lot of sense for the Pats.

    Jones is as versatile as they come, playing all three positions along the line for the Tide.

    He comes from a Nick Saban-coached program, and the relationship between Saban and Pats coach Bill Belichick is well-established.

    He's also a monster at 6'5", 305 pounds, with the ability to play G or C at a high level in the NFL.

    Jones may never be a franchise LT, but the Pats already have theirs in Nate Solder.  What they need is short-term interior line depth, and someone to replace the declining Dan Connolly in the (not so) long term.

    Jones would normally go earlier than the end of the second round, but worries about the Lisfranc injury he played on in the BCS Championship Game could cause him to slip to the Pats. If he does, he'd be a high-value steal for Belichick.

Round 3: WR Robert Woods, USC

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    The Pats replaced Wes Welker with Danny Amendola in the slot, but they've yet to replace Brandon Lloyd as the X receiver along the sideline.

    Look for the Pats to invest in the position long-term with Robert Woods, who could slip due to concerns about his ankle.  

    Woods played all year and worked out at the combine, but it's possible he'll have to start the year on the PUP.  I'd expect him to slip to the third round, but his ankle injuries haven't been so concerning that the Pats should avoid taking him if he's available then.  

    Woods has good speed (4.51 40) and size (6'1", 190 lbs) and if healthy, he can provide the outside threat the Pats need to draw safety help away from New England's dynamic tight ends.

Round 7: WR Denard Robinson, Michigan

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    Credit is due to fellow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Sean Keane, who mocked Robinson to the Pats in the seventh round last week.

    The Pats are no strangers to drafting converted QBs-turned-gadget-players in the seventh round—just ask free agent Julian Edelman.

    If Edelman doesn't resign, the Pats could opt for a more explosive, high-risk/high-reward replacement in Robinson. 

    Robinson hasn't yet learned the finer points of professional receiving (especially the part where you catch the ball), but it's hard to ignore that 4.32 second 40 time.  He's definitely worth a late-round look as a skill player and return man if the Pats can nab him in the seventh.

Round 7: CB Mike Edwards, Hawaii

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    We're going all speed, all the time late in the draft.

    Edwards is an undersized (5'9") corner with upside as a slot man with press skills.  His technique is reportedly raw, but his hips are fluid and he mirrors routes well.  

    He is aggressive and unwilling to back down from larger receivers.  He's also a potential special teams stud with electric return man skills. 

    The Pats' starting secondary is all but solidified with the signings of Aqib Talib and Adrian Wilson, but they can always use depth at the position.

    Edwards would provide it and fit in nicely with their man-under scheme. The Hawaii junior could play a valuable role in backing up Kyle Arrington in the slot.