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Byline: Rich Garven

It's been a busy offseason for the Patriots, what with them signing 14 veteran free agents who spent last season playing somewhere other than New England.

But you can never have enough talent or too much depth, so the team building continues tomorrow through Saturday as the 75th annual NFL Draft takes place at Radio City Music Hall.

The Patriots come in with six picks. They have two on Day 1, three on Day 2 and one on Day 3, which encompasses the final four rounds of this seven-round affair.

You should expect to see an increase in those numbers as, yes, they once again elect to pick up picks by dealing down. But in a switch from years past, they stand their ground in the first round and retreat in the second while adding a trio of late-round selections along the way.

With that in mind, I offer up nine players who fit the vaunted Patriot Prototype. That would be a player who was productive for multiple seasons on the field in college and relatively free of trouble off it (although it increasingly seems like that's of little importance in Foxboro).


Round 1

27th pick

T Jonathan Martin, Stanford

This pick was formerly the property of the Saints, but they dished it to the Patriots so they could take Alabama running back Mark Ingram last April. A player, strangely enough, most mocksters had pegged for New England.

You can never have enough linemen, so the choice here is Martin. He joins a road-paving crew that includes bookend behemoth blockers Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, providing insurance in case of injury or the retirement of Matt Light.

The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin didn't miss a game the last three seasons after being redshirted as a freshman, protecting the blind side of one Andrew Luck. He's considered equally adept at run and pass blocking and is said to possess a mean streak.

Martin has a local tie as both his parents are Harvard graduates.

31st pick

DT Kendall Reyes, Connecticut

While there is, once again, uncertainty with the pass rush, the Patriots, once again, elect to pass on rushing in and reaching to fill a need. Rather they continue to recognize teams are built from the inside out.

This time they fortify the defense with the selection of Reyes.

Reyes, who checks in at 6-4 and 299 pounds, has displayed the versatility and flexibility Bill Belichick loves in that he can play everywhere along the line. No problem with productivity as he recorded 31.5 tackles for a loss in 42 starts while providing stoutness against the run and the ability to collapse the pocket on passing downs.

A two-year captain, scouts see Reyes as a player who quickly masters his playbook and can contribute on special teams. Again, key attributes if you're going to play for Belichick.


Round 2

48th pick

WR Ashlon Jeffery, South Carolina

Receiver is arguably the deepest position in the draft, so the Patriots trade down, wait it out and still get potential help with the acquisition of Jeffrey.

Listed at nearly 6-3 and 216 pounds, he didn't miss a game during his three seasons at South Carolina, finishing as the second-leading receiver in SEC history with 3,042 yards. Has huge hands and long arms, which allows him to pull in passes that are seemingly out of reach.

Jeffrey averaged 16.6 yards a catch and caught 23 touchdowns in 40 games. Oh yeah, he got thrown out his final collegiate game for fighting.

62nd pick

OLB Bruce Irvin, West Virginia

The Patriots take another stab at finding an impact outside linebacker in the draft (see: Crable, Shawn; Cunningham, Jermaine) by tabbing Irvin after executing another trade down.

The 6-3, 245-pound Irvin isn't a three-down player, just one who can - don't choke on your cereal - raise havoc on third down in obvious passing situations. Yes, someone who can get to the quarterback, as his 22 sacks in 28 games at West Virginia would attest.

Irvin does come with more baggage than a Greyhound, the latest being his arrest for destruction of property in March. None of that scares off the Patriots, just other teams.

Round 3

93rd pick

TE Orson Charles, Georgia

Injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez last season exposed the need for depth as the Patriots have officially become a tight end-centric offense.

It arrives in the form of the 6-2, 245-pound Charles, who has reliable hands, quick feet, excellent speed and a fearless attitude. Another early entrant, he didn't miss a game in three seasons at Georgia and was named a team captain while repeatedly making the honor roll.

Oh yeah, Charles was arrested for DUI and driving too slow in March.


Round 4

126th pick

CB Ryan Steed, Furman

You can never have enough defensive backs in today's NFL and the Patriots add to their collection by drafting Steed, who's a big-time player from a small school.

A three-year starter and two-time captain, this senior is smart and instinctive. The big knock is he has trouble defending the deep ball.

Rounds 5-7

Worth watching

S Aaron Henry, Wisconsin

Has experience at both safety and cornerback.

G Andrew Tiller, Syracuse

Lost 70 pounds after joining Orange in 2009.

WR Eric Page, Toledo

Averaged 27.3 yards and returned four kicks for touchdowns.



CUTLINE: (1) Kendall Reyes (2) Jonathan Martin (3) Bruce Irvin
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 25, 2012
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