With just five selections in the 2013 NFL draft, the New England Patriots are not as armed and loaded with picks as they've been in previous years. As we've learned to be the case with Bill Belichick, time and time again, that number of five picks is hardly set in stone.
They could end up with 10 picks if they do business as they've done in the past, or they could end up with just two picks if they move up like they did last year.
Will the Patriots engage in any trades? Who are they targeting with their picks?
Trying to guess is a feeble task, but at least here you have access to all the latest news, rumors and reports regarding the Patriots and the NFL draft.
April 12: James Christensen of NEPatriotsDraft.com reports the Patriots will hold a private workout for BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah.
April 11: James Christensen of NEPatriotsDraft.com reports head coach Bill Belichick has been spending a good amount of time poking around the Illinois campus.
April 11: According to Aaron Wilson of Scout.com, Nevada safety Duke Williams is scheduled for a visit with the Patriots.
April 9: Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston reports that the Patriots have hosted Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso.
April 8: Tony Pauline of Draft Insider reports that the Patriots have worked out Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor.
April 3: According to Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald, the Patriots have scheduled pre-draft visits with Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan, Florida State defensive end Tank Carradine, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant, Alabama offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and Oklahoma wide receiver Kenny Stills.
Will be updated with all the breaking news.
Just when we thought that we had Bill Belichick pegged for trading down every year, he blindsided Patriots nation with not one, but two trades that allowed the team to move up in the first round last season.
This may be another good year to move back, but if not, is it more likely that they'll go offense or defense?
Here's a rundown of the Patriots first-round picks over the past decade:
- 2003: DE Ty Warren
- 2004: DT Vince Wilfork
- 2004: TE Ben Watson
- 2005: G Logan Mankins
- 2006: RB Laurence Maroney
- 2007: FS Brandon Meriweather
- 2008: LB Jerod Mayo
- 2010: CB Devin McCourty
- 2011: T Nate Solder
- 2012: DE Chandler Jones
- 2012: LB Dont'a Hightower
For breakdown purposes, that's seven defensive players and four offensive players taken in the first round over the past 10 drafts.
The recent trend has Belichick and the Patriots drafting defense in the first round. They've done so with five of their six most recent first-round picks. Despite the defensive splurge, most of the Patriots needs remain on that side of the ball.
Their biggest need, in my opinion, is at wide receiver. There will be plenty of available receivers with good value at the end of the first round and the beginning of the second round, so the 29th pick (or a later pick if they trade down) would be a good place to target a receiver as well.
The Patriots traded completely out of the first round in 2009, making Patrick Chung their first pick.
The Patriots have earned a reputation around the league for trading back to acquire more picks, giving them as many opportunities as possible to find players.
For all the wheeling and dealing they've done, though, they have traded out of the first round only three times.
- In 2003, the Patriots traded one of their two first-round picks to the Ravens for a second-round pick and a 2004 first-round pick.
- In 2009, the Patriots traded down twice, eventually trading their first-round pick to the Packers in exchange for multiple picks.
- In 2011, the Patriots traded one of their two first-round picks to the Saints for a second-round pick and a 2012 first-round pick.
They also have a history of trading up in the first round, too.
- In 2002, the Patriots traded up for tight end Daniel Graham with the 21st overall pick.
- In 2003, the Patriots traded up one spot for defensive end Ty Warren.
- In 2012, the Patriots traded up twice to land defensive end Chandler Jones and outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower.
Again, it is hard to find trends here. Go figure.
This year, the draft is considered very deep from the end of the first round to the middle of the second round. With just five picks this year, the Patriots might feel it's better to trade down and acquire more picks to give the team more opportunities to fill their needs.
The Patriots always find a way to pick up a player with a lot of talent who falls for whatever reason.
Aaron Hernandez was considered a second- or third-round talent coming out of Florida, but character concerns surrounding positive tests for marijuana caused him to fall to the fourth-round, where Belichick happily obliged and selected the athletic tight end.
In 2011, the Patriots took a free-falling Ryan Mallett in the third-round after he was labeled as having character concerns related to drug use. He was previously considered a first-round talent at quarterback.
In 2012, the player was Alfonzo Dennard. The Patriots picked up the second-round talent in the seventh round after a run-in with the law caused his draft stock to plummet like Enron.
Who will be this year's Hernandez-Mallett-Dennard case?
The Patriots have already hosted private workouts with South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore and LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
Lattimore fought back from a gruesome knee injury he suffered in 2011, only to suffer a dislocated right knee in 2012. He was once projected to be a first-round pick, but the concerns over his recovery from injury have driven his stock way down.
Mathieu has a little more control over his situation. He was one of the most notorious college football players in the LSU Tigers 2011 National Championship bid, but after several positive tests for marijuana, he was kicked off the team.
The Patriots have proven, though, that if they think a player's talent outweighs his character concerns—given the draft slot, of course—they are not afraid to strike. Lattimore and Mathieu are just two of the players that could be in the cross hairs in that regard.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from Pro-Football-Reference.com, and all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases.