While many NFL teams approach the draft with the intention of remaking themselves, the Patriots approach it with the intention of completing themselves. It's this fundamental difference that gives the Patriots their strange (and occasionally frustrating) method for picking new blood.
For New England, the draft is a practical operation. Less of a shout, more of a whisper. They want new guys who will fit into their established structure. They want versatile players who can fill multiple roles. More importantly, they want intelligent young men who will adhere to the discipline of the Patriot Way, both on and off the field.
With these unorthodox needs comes a very idiosyncratic method of evaluating talent. Sometimes, it's abstract in nature. Other times, it'll try your patience. But, at the end of the day, all the complexities of Bill Belichick's mad method boil down to a simple goal: Winning it all.
Here are stat projections for New England's seven selections from the 2013 NFL draft.
College: Southern Mississippi
Overall Pick: No. 52
The Skinny: Jamie Collins is a glass-eating tackler who pummels the run, punches and strips balls, induces turnovers and swarms off the edge to sack the passer. His multi-dimensional football IQ makes him a versatile, out-of-the-box thinker and player. He exercises great patience and poise in pursuit of the ball. He's a shifty attack dog with a big bite.
Bottom Line: With Collins in the mix, New England's pass-rushing unit is finally beginning to take shape. The overall potential is high, especially when you factor in the second-year leaps that Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower are bound to take. Expect Collins to help the Patriots beat up on quarterbacks this season.
Projected 2013 Stats: 40 tackles, four sacks, one fumble recovery
Overall Pick: No. 59
The Skinny: Aaron Dobson is the deep, speedy target Tom Brady needs to spice things up. He's a nifty and nimble route-runner. This kid's open even when he's blanketed. He's got Stickum built into his skin, which allows him to make jaw-dropping catches. He protects the ball with trustworthy hands.
Bottom Line: Dobson was a team captain back at Marshall, which means he'll bring some much needed leadership to New England's offense (hopefully taking some weight off Brady's shoulders). Look for him to emerge as the glue that holds the Patriots' mismatched receiving unit together.
Projected 2013 Stats: 49 receptions, 674 yards, six touchdowns
Overall Pick: No. 83
The Skinny: Logan Ryan is a cerebral defender with versatile techniques and true toughness. He has a passion for family, education and winning. Big character, big brains. A smart surgeon on defense.
Bottom Line: Check out Ryan's highlight reel to get an idea of his physical and psychological strength on the field. He has the capability to emerge as a defensive playmaker on the professional stage.
Projected 2013 Stats: 34 tackles, three passes defended, three picks, one fumble recovery
Overall Pick: No. 91
The Skinny: Duron Harmon brings the kind of versatility that Bill Belichick loves. He can play free safety or strong safety and contribute on special teams. He's unbelievably humble and has a great head on his shoulders.
Bottom Line: Another big personality guy, Harmon has the potential to become a fan favorite in New England. Check out this interview to get a feel for his great character.
Projected 2013 Stats: 16 tackles, one fumble recovery (returned for a touchdown)
College: Texas Christian
Overall Pick: No. 102
The Skinny: Josh Boyce is a dangerous vertical threat with tremendous stop-and-go skills. It's a pleasure to watch him make defenders miss (check out his highlight reel for examples). He times catches very well. Once he has the ball, he's very tough to bring down. He's a tremendous athletic specimen who, along with Aaron Dobson, should form a one-two punch at receiver for the 2013 season, similar to what Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez created at tight end during the 2011 season.
Bottom Line: Like Dobson, Boyce's intellect should allow him to digest New England's playbook, affording him the ability to recite it and run it, front and back. That's a key virtue to be excited about, given the pitfalls of New England's ballyhooed receivers over the last few years (Chad Ochocinco, Brandon Lloyd, etc.). Feels like they finally got it right. In the hands of Tom Brady, Boyce is potential gold.
Projected 2013 Stats: 38 receptions, 544 yards, seven touchdowns
Overall Pick: No. 226
The Skinny: Michael Buchanan is another versatile selection for the Patriots. This kid breaks up passes, pressures and sacks the quarterback, makes hard-nosed tackles and generally creates havoc at the line of scrimmage. Very skilled a batting passes. At times, he's unblockable.
Bottom Line: Buchanan's another menacing player for Bill Belichick to unleash on quarterbacks. Look for him to become an active contributor on a pass-rushing unit that should be one of the most feared groups in the league.
Projected 2013 Stats: 31 tackles, four quarterback hits, two sacks, two pass breakups
Overall Pick: No. 235
The Skinny: Steve Beauharnais hits the holy trinity of assets Bill Belichick looks for in a player: Intelligence, physicality and versatility. Beauharnais has excellent body strength and phenomenal technique. Awesome presence in the middle. Multidimensional usefulness on special teams. He's a highly efficient run-stopper who can generate momentum for the team with tough, well-timed hits.
Bottom Line: Beauharnais is a very cool player. This guy has swagger. Check out his highlight reel for a taste of what's to come.
Projected 2013 Stats: 22 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery