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Mel Kiper Mock Draft Has Patriots Selecting Muhammad Wilkerson, Mark Ingram In First Round

It's one of the most anticipated days of the sporting calendar, and it doesn't involve a single athletic move (unless you count walking across the stage). Indeed, it's the beginning of the 2011 NFL Draft, with the Carolina Panthers going on the clock Thursday night at 8:04 p.m. ET, and with it comes the final edition of Mel Kiper's mock draft.

As we've already mentioned, it's behind a pay wall (save for his first five picks), we've learned his projections for the two first-round selections of the New England Patriots.

At No. 17, Kiper predicts the Pats to draft Muhammad Wilkerson, a DL from Temple.

I have 3-4 defensive end among the top three needs for the Patriots and this is precisely the kind of value pick the Patriots are known for. Wilkerson is a player who I don't think would escape the top-10 picks if he stuck around Temple for another year, but he simply dominated the competition in 2010 and is ready for this shot. He fits in well as a 3-4 defensive end and can really create havoc.

For the record SB Nation's 2011 NFL Mock Draft has him going to the Jets with the No. 30 pick.

The Patriots' second first-round pick, No. 28, will see them take Alabama RB Mark Ingram, according to Kiper:

The Patriots are unfailingly unpredictable, even more so this season because they can cover a wide variety of needs throughout the first four rounds, where they know they'll get value, but there's no question they could use a talent like Ingram, particularly this late in Round 1. Ingram's a gamer, a guy who can help the running game now. He's a Belichick type of player, but his pad level, balance and ability to explode from contact are traits any coach would love.

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, April 28th and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare for it - NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it all out at SB Nation's 2011 NFL Draft Hub and our NFL Draft blog Mocking the Draft.