Here are some interesting names that are ranked around the Pats' drafting position:
West Virginia, senior
Austin did himself no favors by pulling out of the Senior Bowl at the last moment. At just 5-9, Austin is undersized, but his speed and triple-threat skills (rusher, receiver, return man) could push him into the first round. He's a mismatch nightmare for defenses.
Tight ends dominated the NFL's conference championship weekend, and Ertz could be a major weapon starting as soon as 2013. He can get open, whether used as a downfield threat or sideline-to-sideline, plus delivers as a solid blocker.
Florida State, junior
Rhodes might wind up as a top-15 or -20 pick. He definitely will be intriguing for teams that want to play a Seattle-like defensive style, which is highlighted by physical corners outside. Rhodes thrives in press coverage and could wind up being a shut-down guy.
Minter said he received a third-round grade from the NFL Draft advisory board, but it is hard to imagine him lasting that long. His smarts and ability to get to the football could turn him into an immediate-impact player.
Smaller than Vaccaro, but Elam similarly flashed the potential to be effective creeping close to the line or playing deep coverage. He turned in a very strong performance against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, preceding his decision to turn pro.
Our third Alabama lineman in the top 30, Jones played all over the offensive line, a plus that will help his draft stock. He also somehow battled through a Lisfranc fracture to suit up for the title game. Jones does not leap off the screen when watching tape, but he is as reliable as they come.
The WR group figures to be pretty fluid between now and April, but there are only a few guys who could leapfrog Hopkins. Hopkins displayed elite hands and a top-notch ability to find space en route to 1,400 yards receiving and 18 TDs this season.
Defensive tackle is another spot where any number of guys could flip-flop draft positions. Consider me on the Short bandwagon, however, after watching him occupy double- and triple-teams throughout Purdue's season. He needs to bulk up a bit, though.
I'd love to know which of these guys you all would prefer, if the Pats had them available and wanted to take one of them.