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NFL New England Patriots

2014 NFL Draft: New England Patriots’ Early Seven-Round Mock

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New England Patriots' Seven-Round Mock

Amaro
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the 10-3 New England Patriots are clearly headed for the postseason in 2013, it’s never too early to start looking towards the offseason and the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. There are numerous areas they must improve in, and there won’t be a better opportunity to get better than the draft.

Of those areas needing improvement, one of the biggest concerns is tight end. We all know why Aaron Hernandez is no longer with the team, and the recent ACL/MCL tear suffered by Rob Gronkowski could keep him out beyond the beginning of the 2014 season. With their tight end position suddenly void of starting-caliber talent, adding a capable playmaker to the mix will be a necessity if the Patriots want to revive their passing game.

Despite their need at tight end, the Patriots still have other questions in need of answers. Even with several promising young players at the position, wide receiver could use another upgrade. The offensive line could also be devoid of solid depth if free agents jump ship this offseason, which could force New England to use draft picks along the front five. The defensive line will also need some work done, especially at nose tackle.

Either way, the Patriots need to make the most of their draft picks in May. The 2014 NFL Draft will offer New England an opportunity to upgrade their roster while addressing the problems that have cropped up during the season.

With that in mind, here’s a look at what the Patriots could choose to do with their seven current draft picks when the 2014 NFL Draft finally rolls around.

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1st Round: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Amaro
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The ACL/MCL tear for Gronkowski has crippled the Patriots’ passing game, and we all know what happened with Hernandez earlier this year. Put simply, they need a new top-flight tight end capable of stretching the field and creating mismatches down the field. Amaro is arguably the best player at the position in 2014, and might be gone before New England is on the clock. If they do get him, though, Amaro could quickly be one of the NFL’s best tight ends.

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2nd Round: Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado

Richardson
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

When injuries became a factor early in the season, the Patriots were left with few options for Tom Brady to throw to. Danny Amendola is too injury-prone, Julian Edelman is limited to a slot role, and the other New England receivers are still raw. Adding Richardson would give the passing game a big boost. A tall, speedy receiver with a knack for making big plays, the Colorado product creates sparks when the ball is in the air. He adjusts well, has reliable hands and will be an exciting addition to Brady’s arsenal.

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3rd Round: Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee

McCullers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The loss of Vince Wilfork was a huge hit for the Patriots’ defense, which didn’t have the depth to handle such an injury. Instead, they went with two undrafted rookies in the middle and watched their run defense crumble. By bringing a big player like McCullers aboard, they’ll have the depth they need behind Wilfork. McCullers is a huge prospect (6’8’’, 350) with the strength to plug up the middle. If he’s going to be successful in the NFL, though, he needs to play with more pride and give consistent effort on every down.

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4th Round: Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma

Ikard
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With Ryan Wendell headed for free agency, the Patriots could soon see a significant decrease in their amount of talent available at the center position. If that’s the case, bringing aboard a promising prospect like Ikard makes sense. The Sooner center is an outstanding blocker who uses impeccable smarts to win his battles in the trenches. He came to Oklahoma as a tight end, so he’s clearly a good athlete and should have no problem adjusting to life in the NFL.

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6th Round (via PHI): Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State

Lawrence
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

So far this season, the Patriots have been missing a consistent pass rush. They haven’t gotten reliable pressure from their defensive line or linebackers, which is why they should add some specialists to the fold during the offseason. Lawrence is an outstanding edge rusher who uses speed and solid technique to find his way around offensive tackles. His run defense still needs some work, but Lawrence has the potential to be a difference maker on passing downs.

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6th Round: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon

Lyerla
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike Amaro, Lyerla is more of an in-line tight end with the field-stretching ability to be a playmaker for the Patriots. A big, physical pass-catcher with the strength to carry defenders for extra yards, he should have no trouble finding a role in the New England offense. That is, if he can get his head on straight. Lyerla mysteriously left Oregon midway through the 2013 season before an arrest for cocaine possession. The Patriots have a history of troubled players, but Lyerla still has a lot to prove.

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7th Round: John Martinez, G, USC

Martinez
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Even with Dan Connolly at guard, the Patriots might soon need some extra depth on the right side. Will Svitek is headed for free agency, and might not be re-signed. If that’s the case, New England will look to add another capable blocker to the mix. Martinez is a physically gifted blocker who suffers from major inconsistency. He was benched midway through the 2013 campaign, but eventually re-entered the starting lineup. If he can capitalize on his abilities, the Patriots could come away with a quality backup.

Gil Alcaraz IV is the Content Planner for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.