Mike Reiss highlights what was learned about the 2012 Draft from ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.
1. At the safety spot, where the Patriots have a need, things have started to shake themselves out. Mark Barron (Alabama) is viewed as a mid-first round pick and Harrison Smith (Notre Dame) a late first-rounder to early-to-mid second-rounder (7 INTs as a junior, 0 as a senior). Brandon Taylor (LSU) could sneak into the second round (he's rising a bit as this process unfolds) while Antonio Allen (South Carolina) and Phillip Thomas (Syracuse) are more third-round type of options.
4. With the Patriots projected to be in the market for a receiver, Arkansas has three to keep on the radar -- Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. Kiper slots Adams and Wright in the third round area as slot options, while noting that Childs is gaining momentum. While Childs doesn't have the same speed as Adams and Wright, he is bigger and viewed as a bit more polished and gets separation. A knee injury late in 2010 has knocked him off track. "All three of those guys are playing in the NFL and will have vital roles in the NFL," Kiper said.
5. The center spot, where the Patriots have some uncertainty, is weak. Kiper has Peter Konz (Wisconsin) as a first-rounder and then a big gap to the fifth round until the second-rated player at the position, Michigan's David Molk.
6. Outside linebacker/defensive end Courtney Upshaw (Alabama) is falling a bit and is a challenging projection to some teams. Kiper views him more in the LaMarr Woodley category of outside linebacker for 3-4 defenses. Upshaw is now in the 16-22 range in Kiper's view, potentially putting him in striking range for a reasonable trade up if the Patriots like him.
7. For teams like the Patriots who are looking for an explosive playmaker in the return game, RB Chris Rainey (Florida) is an all-purpose type of player who warrants consideration. Rainey is viewed as a second- or third-round option.
- Patriots Mock Draft Tracker: Updated look at what the 'experts' are predicting the Patriots will do in the first round..
- PFW in Progress - The PFW crew breaks down how Peyton Manning's release from the Colts impacts the Patriots, free agency, draft, and more. (2 hour program)
- Tom E. Curran reports WR Brandon Lloyd is very interested in hearing from the Patriots.
- Jeff Howe reports Mark Anderson and the Patriots have spoken, but his future in New England Is still unclear.
- Mike Reiss charts out the findings of how both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning play indoors and outdoors.
- Chad Finn offers 18 thoughts on Peyton Manning.
- ESPNBoston posts the Gronktastic YouTube clip of Rob Gronkowski asking fans to vote for him for this year's Madden cover. (1 min. video)
- Mike Reiss shares some insight from Mel Kiper on who he thinks the Pats will draft in the second round.
- CSNNE reports Mel Kiper made mock picks of second, third, and fourth round players for the Patriots in a Thursday conference call.
- Mike Reiss reviews the Patriots at the offensive line position, and which free agents available might be a fit for New England.
- Tom E. Curran examines the cornerback position heading into free agency.
- WEEI scouts potential Patriots in the Draft: FS George Iloka (Boise State), WR Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech) and CB Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama).
- Mike Reiss posts the transcript of his weekly online chat.
- Jeff Howe answers his Patriots Mailbag: Brandon Lloyd-Josh McDaniels reunion intriguing as free agent frenzy poised to begin.
- Steve Palazzolo (Pro Football Focus) Team Needs 2012: New England Patriots.
- Khaled Elsayed (Pro Football Focus) 2011 Run Stop Percentage: Interior defensive linemen. Vince Wilfork ranked 6th in the league.
- Evan Silva (ProFootballTalk) Brandon Lloyd hints he might take less money to play for Pats.
- Greg Cote (Miami Herald) Make no mistake, Peyton Manning tops Miami Dolphins' wish list.
- Barry Jackson (Miami Herald) Miami Dolphins' Joe Philbin: No talk with Peyton Manning yet.
- James Walker (ESPN) Dolphins, Peyton Manning and control.
- James Walker (ESPN) Should Jets consider Sanchez's psyche?
- Jason Cole (Yahoo! Sports) The Peyton Manning free-agent firestorm could end up burning some front-office officials.
- Kerry J. Byrne (SI) Older, prominent QBs rarely fare well in their new homes.
- Jason Whitlock (Fox Sports) Peyton an even bigger target now.
- Jim Thomas (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Union wants to review bounty issue.
- Brian Billick (Fox Sports) Bounty issue won't go away soon.
- Adam Schein (Fox Sports) Drew Brees surprises with selfish turn. /Brees wants $23 M per season. Saints offered him more than Brady & Manning (18.5 M) plus a $30 M signing bonus and the 2nd-highest amt of guaranteed money in NFL history.
- Steve Wyche (NFL.com) Position-by-position look at NFL's top free agents in 2012.
- James Walker (ESPN) Scouting S Mark Barron (Alabama).
- Chad Reuter (NFL.com) OL stock report: Auburn's Mosley fills void after elite tackles.
- Wes Bunting (Nat'l Football Post) Ranking the draft's top 3-4 nose tackles.
- Chris Burke (SI) Best of the Firsts: No. 19 Randall McDaniel (1988, Vikings).