The New England Patriots are projected by SB Nation bloggers in their 2012 NFL Mock Draft to select Whitney Mercilus 27th (DE, Illinois) and Kendall Reyes (DT, Connecticut) 31st overall (via SB Nation).
Our Patriots blog Pats Pulpit made the selections and felt that the Patriots need to use their two First Round picks (27th and 31st) to improve the front seven on the defensive side of the ball.
On the Mercilus pick, Pats Pulpit said:
The Patriots will likely want to add pieces at wide receiver, running back, interior offensive line, and 5-technique at some point in this draft. However, at 27, Illinois' Whitney Mercilus possesses too much value to pass up at a position of need. While some are labeling Mercilus a "one year wonder," there's no denying his talent or explosion as a pass rusher. He is relentless getting after the quarterback, and is always playing all-out in effort (unlike another prospect I considered, Penn State DT/DE Devon Still). He still has some work to go on his technique, but the athleticism and potential are definitely there. He has the size/speed the Patriots look for in their outside linebackers (6'4", 261 lbs, 4.68 40 yard dash), and even if he did not work out as an outside linebacker, he'd still be able to play a majority of the team's snaps in four man fronts and sub-packages. At some point, the Patriots need to take a risk on a pass rusher who has high potential. Mercilus would be the perfect candidate for that.
About Reyes, Pats Pulpit said:
After picking up Illinois defensive end / outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus with the 27th pick, I have the Patriots continuing to upgrade their front seven with the selection of Connecticut defensive lineman Kendall Reyes with the 31st pick. While the Patriots could very well trade out of one of their two first round spots, they have a pressing need to add talent at the 5-technique position this draft. While Brandon Deaderick, Jonathan Fanene, and Ron Brace can start as needed, none have a very high ceiling. Kendall Reyes would offer that for the Patriots. He's got good size (6'4", 299 pounds), athleticism, and work ethic. He could probably jump into the defensive line rotation as an one-gap interior rusher as a rookie, and be a starter at defensive end in the base 3-4 by year two.
Mercilus is a pick we've seen projected to the Patriots often but the Reyes pick has been made much less often. He did play in the region and was an All-Big East performer which might give the Patriots staff some familiarity with what he has to offer.