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News Blitz 4/15: Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas a second round draft option for Patriots

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Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com writes that Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas could be a second round draft option for the Patriots next month.

"At 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, he is a pure tight end when compared to others at the position who might be viewed more as bigger receivers," notes Reiss. "He has good size, strength and upside to develop into a solid combination tight end as he's only played the position for two years." READ MORE>>

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Karen Guregian](http://bostonherald.com/sports/patriotsnfl/theblitz/2014/04/patriotsdraftseriesnotredameslouisnixcouldbe_vince) of the Boston Herald believes Notre Dame DT Louis Nix could be the eventual replacement for Vince Wilfork if the Patriots choose to draft him in the first round of May's NFL draft.

"He's a natural fit as an eventual replacement for Vince Wilfork given his size and abilities," writes Guregian. "Like Big Vince, Nix makes his living commanding double teams and collapsing pockets. When he's healthy, he has the strength and athleticism to be a space-consuming, body-crunching run stuffer and disrupter up front. He looks the part to be groomed as Wilfork's successor." READ MORE>>

Nick Underhill of MassLive.com writes that defensive end depth remains the Patriots biggest need.

"Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones simply cannot play 90 percent of the snaps next season," adds Underhill. "Michael Buchanan could still be an option for that role, and I was recently told that the team remains interested in Will Smith. If it isn't one of those guys, then it needs to be someone else." READ MORE>>

Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com believes the Patriots could consider free agent Dustin Keller for tight end depth. Keller tore his ACL, MCL and PCL and dislocated his knee last season, but he avoided nerve damage and is expected to be ready for the 2014 season.

"Keller doesn't turn 30 until August. He signed with Miami after a disappointing 2012 with the Jets when New York's quarterback chaos reigned," writes Curran. "Prior to that, though, he was one of the league's best pass-catching tight ends. Fast (he ran a 4.53 at the Combine coming out of Purdue), smart and a solid teammate, Keller caught 120 balls and averaged 12.5 yards per catch with 10 touchdowns over the 2010 and 2011 seasons." READ MORE>>

[ Eric Galko](A Ryan Mallett trade isn't dead … yet. The most likely scenario as of now is if the Texans miss out on their second-round quarterback target and instead opt to acquire him from the New England Patriots. ) of Sporting News reports it's unlikely that Patriots move backup QB Ryan Mallett this offseason.

"A Ryan Mallett trade isn't dead...yet. The most likely scenario as of now is if the Texans miss out on their second-round quarterback target and instead opt to acquire him from the New England Patriots," writes Galko. [READ MORE>>](A Ryan Mallett trade isn't dead … yet. The most likely scenario as of now is if the Texans miss out on their second-round quarterback target and instead opt to acquire him from the New England Patriots. )

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