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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NFL Mock Draft: New England Patriots go with Tavon Austin

Each week, I like to take a look at the 2013 NFL Mock Draft posted by the great crew over at the main page. This week, they had the New England Patriots selecting West Virginia Mountaineers standout wide receiver Tavon Austin, and it is definitely a wise choice at No. 29.

I still firmly believe that Austin or Florida Gators star safety Matt Elam is the way to go for the Patriots at that spot, and that’s of the players that are expected to still be available in the late first round. The Patriots have needs at strong safety and wide receiver, especially with key slot guys Wes Welker and Julian Edelman set to hit free agency. It’s tough envisioning the Pats keeping both guys with Sebastian Vollmer and Aqib Talib also ready to hit the open market.

The Pats draft strategy depends on their free agency strategy and how things shake out during the FA period. If the Pats are able to keep Welker but not able to keep Talib, then the Pats will go with Matt Elam. If Talib is retained and Welker set free, then Austin is going to be the choice (provided both players are available). If the Pats are able to keep both guys, then they’ll lean towards Elam since there is still a hole at strong safety.

Austin is an excellent choice by, and he actually had Elam going a couple of slots lower to the San Francisco 49ers (great choice for them). I love Elam due to his high character and menacing hits that will allow him to excel in-the-box, and I also think the former Gator is more than adequate in coverage. He’s clearly a better safety than Eric Reid, and Elam and Austin are the two top options for the Patriots in the 2013 NFL Mock Draft based on what we know/think/pretend to know right now.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Tags: 2013 NFL Draft Football Matt Elam New England Patriots Tavon Austin West Virginia Mountaineers

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