Patriots brass have arrived at the NFL draft in Chicago without a first round pick. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not all doom and gloom with the Deflategate penalty. Since Bill Belichick has taken over as general manger and head coach, New England has previously tackled draft day without a first round selection three times.

In the prior three drafts without a first round pick, New England still ended up with Sebastian Vollmer, Pat Chung, Tom Brady, Jamie Collins, and Logan Ryan.

But all the fun has been sucked out of the first draft day in New England. However, it will be interesting to see who might fall into their lap as players slip down the board.

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio stated, “There’s been many years where we haven’t had a first round pick and we’ve adjusted accordingly. Whenever we pick, we’re prepared to pick, and we’ll take advantage of the opportunities the best we can and try to add good players to our team.”

Who will New England target? With their earliest overall pick at No. 60 overall, it’s difficult to isolate a particular player they may draft. Luckily, most of the Patriots roster is already solid at this point. The easiest way to predict their draft picks is by isolating needs at each position.

Keep in mind that Belichick may trade some of these picks in order to move around the draft board this weekend.

Positions that the Patriots probably won’t draft

The Patriots will likely not draft a quarterback, tight end, or interior offensive lineman due to strong depth at those positions.

Draft needs: Offensive Tackle

OT’s on roster now: Nate Solder, 28, signed through 2018, 2 yr $20,062,000 – Marcus Cannon, 27, signed through 2017, 2 yr $9,000,000 – Sebastian Vollmer, 31, signed through 2017, 4 yr $16,750,000 – LaAdrian Waddle, 24, signed through 2018, 2 yr $2,400,000 – Cameron Fleming, 23, signed through 2017, 1 yr $600,000

It’s clear that the team needs young blood at offensive tackle. Last season New England struggled to maintain the edge of the pocket down the stretch. The starting tackles missed considerable amounts of the 2016 campaign. Last year’s draft targeted the Patriots’ needs in the interior portions of the line. Now New England will look to brighten the future at the edge of the pocket.

Defensive Tackle

DT’s on roster nowTerrance Knighton, 29, signed through 2017, 1 yr $1,750,000 – Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, 27, signed through 2017, 2 yr $1,420,000 – Marcus Kuhn, 29, signed through 2017, 1 yr $1,200,000 – Malcolm Brown, 22, signed through 2019, 4 yr $7,613,229 – Alan Branch, 31, signed through 2017, 2 yr $4,300,000 – Joe Vellano, 27, signed through 2016, 1 yr $600,000

Another prominent need is at defensive tackle. Malcolm Brown was selected this past year, but many of his counterparts are well into the second half of their careers. The Patriots are lucky that defensive tackle is one of the most deeply talented positions in this year’s draft.

Cornerback

CB’s on roster nowMalcolm Butler, 26, signed through 2017, 3 yr $1,530,000 – Logan Ryan, 25, signed through 2017, 4 yr $2,773,252 – Tarell Brown, 31, signed through 2016, 1 yr $2,000,000 – Darryl Roberts, 25, signed through 2019, 4 yr $2,334,223

There is currently only one cornerback signed past 2016 for the Patriots and it’s Darryl Roberts. Players like Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan return for 2016 but their future with the team isn’t guaranteed in the final season of their contracts. The Patriots will need to add cornerbacks in order to strengthen depth and provide options in case of injury.

Running back

RB’s on roster nowLeGarrette Blount – 29, signed through 2017, 1 yr $1,000,000 – Dion Lewis – 25, signed through 2018, 2 yr $2,600,000 – Brandon Bolden – 26, signed through 2017, 2 yr $2,320,000 – James White – 24, signed through 2018, 4 yr $2,617,088 – Tyler Gaffney – 25, signed through 2017, 1 yr $450,000 – Donald Brown – 29, signed through 2016, 1 yr $965,000

Despite already having several runningbacks on the roster, many analysts agree that New England will add a rookie in the backfield. LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, and Donald Brown are aging. It would do Belichick very well if he brought in younger competition to battle for a roster spot.

Wide Receiver

WR’s on roster nowJulian Edelman, 29, signed through 2018, 4 yr $17,000,000 – Danny Amendola, 30, signed through 2018, 3 yr $12,750,000 – Chris Hogan, 27, signed through 2019, 3 yr $12,000,000 – Matthew Slater, 30, signed through 2017, 2 yr $4,000,000 – Aaron Dobson, 24, signed through 2017, 4 yr $3,428,370 – Keshawn Martin, 26, signed through 2018, 2 yr $3,000,000 – Nate Washington, 32, signed through 2016, 1 yr $1,065,000 – Chris Harper, 22, signed through 2016, 2 yr $960,000 – DeAndre Carter, 23, signed through 2016, 1 yr $450,000

Patriots draft picks at this position have been hit or miss through the years. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are both over thirty. Chris Hogan has been acquired, but the Patriots still need new blood. Look for the Patriots to add a rookie receiver to the mix.

2016 Patriots NFL Draft picks

2nd round, 60th overall, assigned draft pick

2nd round, 61st overall, obtained via Chandler Jones trade

3rd round, 91st overall, assigned selection

3rd round, 96th overall, compensatory pick

6th round, 196th overall, obtained via trade with Texans for WR Keshawn Martin

6th round, 204th overall, assigned selection related to Jon Bostic reassigned during Martellus Bennett trade

6th round, 208th overall, compensatory pick

6th round, 214th overall, compensatory pick

6th round, 221st overall, compensatory pick

7th round, 243rd overall, obtained via Ryan Mallett trade

7th round, 250th overall, assigned selection

2016 NFL Draft Schedule

1st Round

Thursday, April 28, 8 PM EST, ESPN

2nd-3rd Round

Friday, April 29, 7 PM EST, ESPN

4th-7th Round

Saturday, April 30, 12 PM EST, ESPN