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Mel Kiper 2012 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: New England Patriots Select Michael Brockers, Andre Branch

It's widely believed that the New England Patriots will use the 2012 NFL Draft to beef up their defense, as long as Bill Belichick doesn't trade away all New England's selections in his on-going quest to horde every single pick in the 2031 Draft.

In the Mel Kiper 2012 NFL Mock Draft 1.0, Kiper predicts that the Patriots will select Michael Brockers, a defensive lineman from LSU, and Andre Branch, a linebacker from Clemson.

27. Michael Brockers, DL, LSU The Patriots have a pair of picks in the first round, and my guess is they'll look to get younger on the defensive line and work to add some pieces to a pass rush. That was something they really didn't address in last year's draft, but as creative and resourceful as they are, it might be time. Brockers could end up a lot higher than this when the evaluation process is over because his reputation is growing. I list him simply as a defensive lineman because the Pats could use him in a couple of different ways up front in that scheme. What he can do is add explosiveness on the interior -- he's a pentrator with the ability to dominate if left to a single blocker, which frees people up.

32. Andre Branch, LB, Clemson A defensive end at the college level, Branch would convert to outside linebacker and add some immediate help to the New England pass rush. He racked up 10.5 sacks this past season and has a 6-foot-5, 260-pound frame, a good physical fit for the transition. Branch also has the athleticism to be more than a pure pass-rusher, as he should be able to develop into a well-rounded OLB under Bill Belichick.

Mocking The Draft lists Branch No. 37 on the 2012 NFL Draft Overall Rankings, cautioning that his awareness still needs to catch up to his physical talent.

For more New England Patriots coverage, visit our team page or our blog Pats Pulpit. For more on the 2012 NFL Draft, check out the SB Nation blog Mocking The Draft.