I've already penned a full seven-round mock for the Patriots, so follow the link for more thorough analysis and insight. Otherwise, here's the Cliff's Notes version:
Round 1, Pick 29: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Nix would represent the high-floor projectable starter that the Patriots traditionally select in the first round. New England's hybrid defense has succeeded in part because of Vince Wilfork's ability to act as the central fulcrum between 4-3 and 3-4 concepts on either side of him.
Nix is one of the few prospects capable of replicating that role, and the Pats will be hard-pressed to find a better successor at one of the most important positions on their defense.
Round 2, Pick 62: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Grantland's Bill Barnwell suggested that the Notre Dame double dip would be the Patriots' ideal two-round scenario, and I'm inclined to agree. In a relatively thin tight end crop, Niklas provides the most all-around upside.
He's not as polished as someone like Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz, another potential Day 2 Patriot, but a Gronkowski-Niklas tandem could inflict all-around punishment on defense for years.
Round 3, Pick 93: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Crichton has the versatility to play anywhere from the 1- to the 7-technique along the defensive line, which would infuse a currently stagnant New England defensive line with much-needed versatility.
Crichton might not drop this far down, but if he does, he would provide three-down upside. Crichton is not the pass-rushing ace some might hope for from the position, but he represents the best all-around value.
Round 4, Pick 130: Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana
Tripp has garnered some buzz as an early Day 3 sleeper, as he is a highly instinctive linebacker with a nose for the football, particularly in the running game.
Tripp is less fluid in the hips than one might expect from a linebacker of his size, but he does have sideline-to-sideline range because of his quick diagnostic skills against the run. Combined with excellent special teams potential, Tripp is a name for Pats followers to watch on Saturday.
Round 4, Pick 140: Gabe Ikard, G/C, Oklahoma
The Patriots might want to select an offensive linemen a bit earlier than this, but Ikard would be a nice fit for New England's zone-blocking scheme.
Ikard does get overwhelmed a bit by larger defensive tackles, which seemingly perpetuates the problem the Pats currently have. Still, as a highly cerebral player with excellent intangibles, Ikard could turn into a long-term starter by adding a bit more strength.
Round 6, Pick 198: Jeff Mathews, QB, Cornell
If the Patriots do draft a quarterback, Mathews fits the prototype among late-round prospects. Mathews has experience reading through progressions in a pro-style offense, a critical skill set that should bode well for his NFL development.
Mathews also has more arm strength than one might expect from an Ivy Leaguer, though he also tends to stare down his targets too often. With a year of development, however, Mathews could be ready to succeed Ryan Mallett as the Patriots' second-string quarterback.
Round 6, Pick 206: Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford
Gaffney has the decisive one-cut downhill running style the Patriots seek. With above-average pass blocking and receiving skills as well, Gaffney is far more well-rounded than most late-round running back prospects.
Unfortunately, the Stanford product is also rather lead-footed, as his speed and quickness are both fringy at best. Still, as part of a rotation, the Patriots could do worse than adding a back with experience in a power zone-running scheme.
Round 7, Pick 244: Vinnie Sunseri, S, Alabama
Sunseri projects as a potential special teams captain, much like Matthew Slater. Sunseri worked out at Alabama's pro day less than six months after tearing his ACL, so his medical red flag should be less of a concern.
While a bit too small to turn into a regular defender, Sunseri's value in the third phase alone would make him a worthy seventh-round investment.