Although the Patriots are still very alive in the NFL playoffs with the AFC Championship this Sunday, it's never too early to take a peek at the upcoming draft. That being said, SB Nation has released their latest 2012 NFL Mock Draft, and they have the Patriots thinking defense.
With the 27th pick, they have the Patriots taking Michael Brockers, the defensive lineman out of LSU:
After Saturday's game, I can imagine the Saints wish they still had this pick. Maybe the Patriots will swap it back to them so they can get some defensive help. If not, New England would be more than happy to have a five-technique guy like Brockers, who'll be racing up draft boards as April gets closer. Long and strong, he can stop the run and get to the passer. 4-3 teams will consider him as well based on his ability to play inside or out.
At pick 32, they have the Patriots taking Stephon Gilmore, the cornerback out of South Carolina:
The Patriots' defense is not where they would like it be, with needs in both the front and the back of the unit. The can't pass up Gilmore with this pick, which will probably be traded as well. If not, Gilmore could help a defense that allowed an average of 300 yards per game in 2011. Gilmore will be attractive here because he's a smart player who understands how the game works and his place in it.
Overall, I think this scenario would represent a solid duo of first round picks for the Patriots. Michael Brockers, at 6'6" and just over 300 pounds, fits the mold to play right defensive end for the Patriots in the 3-4 defense. He's the type of player that has some surprising quickness, but is also stout against the run and could even add a little more weight to his frame.
I'm also a fan of Stephon Gilmore. Although he's widely projected as a second round pick, this wouldn't be a huge reach here. At 6'1" and 190 lbs, Gilmore has good size. He doesn't have great speed, but is comfortable in the off-man coverage schemes that the Patriots love to run and also has a lot of experience in zone. He reminds me a bit of Leigh Bodden. With the Patriots needing to add some bodies to the secondary this offseason, Gilmore seems like a solid pick.
What are your thoughts on this scenario?