The New England Patriots have featured one of the NFL's top offenses for the better part of a decade. While the unit did not miss a beat in 2012, the Pats do have a couple of players nearing the downslope of their career. Armed with the 29th overall pick at the 2013 NFL Draft, one recent mock draft has them taking a wide receiver in the first round.
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According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, New England will take Tavon Austin with the 29th pick. Austin, a senior out of West Virginia, profiles as a strong replacement for Wes Welker.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: With Wes Welker set for free agency, the Patriots might be looking for a new slot receiver and Tom Brady could do a lot with the versatile offensive ability of Tavon Austin.
This past season at WVU, Austin hauled in 114 receptions for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns. At just 5'9 and 174 pounds, he fits the prototypical mold of a speedy slot receiver.
The Patriots are set on the outside with Brandon Lloyd. When they are healthy, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez cause all kinds of problems for opposing defenses all over the field. Welker has been the glue guy on screens and slant routes for years in Foxboro, but it seems he may depart for more money this offseason as a free agent. That leaves a potential spot wide open for Austin.
If the Pats elect to go with someone other than a wide receiver in the first round, a defensive tackle or outside linebacker would make a lot of sense.