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2012 NFL Mock Draft: New England Patriots Linked To Mark Barron and Whitney Mercilus

With the 27th and 31st overall picks, the New England Patriots definitely have some firepower in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft.

In the latest mock draft by SB Nation's very own Ryan Van Bibber, the Patriots are slated to select safety Mark Barron from Alabama and Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus.

Barron would be a steal if he falls all the way to 27th. The national champion is far and away the best safety in the draft (with my apologies to Harrison Smith of Notre Dame). Barron can play like a center fielder in coverage but also come up into the box and stuff a ball-carrier.

Mercilus would replace Mark Anderson and give New England some much needed pass rush. The big concern with Mercilus is that he's only had one big season and done little else at the college level. Whether or not he's a one-year wonder might scare some teams off.

Either way, this would be a great haul for a team in desperate need of defensive help.

For more on the Patriots, be sure to check out Pats Pulpit and SB Nation Boston for all the latest news and updates.