Beyond the 1st round: Wild cards

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
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In 11 entries for different positions, this space focused on one position in the NFL draft by highlighting a prospect in Rounds 2-7 who might fit for the New England Patriots. With so much attention placed on the first round in mock drafts, "Beyond the first round" shined the spotlight on lesser-publicized options beyond the first 32 picks. Today, the series wraps up with a "wild card" category, which gives us the chance to hand pick a few extra prospects in areas that might have been overlooked or a player who doesn't fit into a standard designation.

Second round: G Trai Turner (LSU)
The 6-foot-2 5/8, 310-pound Turner ran a 4.93 in the 40-yard dash, one of the best times among interior offensive linemen, and also put up 25 reps on the bench press. LSU's starter at right guard, he could project to center as well.

[+] Enlarge Dri Archer
AP Photo/Michael ConroyDri Archer ran the 40-yard dash in 4.26 seconds and the scouting combine.
Third round: RB Dri Archer (Kent State)
At 5-foot-7 3/4 and 173 pounds, he comes with some durability questions but after running a 4.26 in the 40-yard dash, his speed is tantalizing. The Patriots have tapped the Kent State pipeline in the past with success (e.g. WR Julian Edelman, G Josh Kline).

Fourth round: G Brandon Thomas (Clemson)
With an extra fourth-round pick coming in the form of a compensatory selection, if a player like Thomas is still available, it could be a smart move to invest in him with 2015 in mind. A projected second-round pick before he tore his ACL in a pre-draft workout with the Saints, Thomas will probably slip down the board a bit.

Fifth round: DE/OLB Zach Moore (Concordia)
The 6-foot-5 1/2, 269-pound Moore has an ideal physical makeup and other tools to work with as he enters the NFL after playing at the Division II level. The NFL team willing to be patient with him could ultimately be rewarded in the end.

Sixth round: WR/KR Solomon Patton (Florida)
The 5-foot-8 1/2, 179-pound Patton could potentially be a slash-type option who factors into the return game. He ran a sub 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash.

Seventh round: LS Tyler Ott (Harvard)
The Patriots have Danny Aiken and Charley Hughlett on the roster to compete for the long snapper position, and perhaps they consider adding a prospect viewed as one of the best in this year's class.

(Round projections aided by Scouts Inc., NFL.com and independent analysis.)

Previous entries:
1. Defensive tackles
2. Tight ends
3. Defensive end
4. Linebacker/outside linebacker
5. Quarterback
6. Wide receiver
7. Safety
8. Running back
9. Cornerback
10. Guard
11. Center

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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