Alhough the bitter taste of 2013's defeat still lingers, the 2014 New England Patriots season is officially under construction. Preparations for the 2014 NFL draft are in full swing, and it's time to start considering which prospects would fit best in Foxboro.
Fan attention and media coverage will be slanted toward the top of the draft, and names like Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Ra'Shede Hageman are already familiar to many Patriots followers. Nevertheless, New England has been the NFL's model franchise of the 2000s not because of the early rounds but because of its exemplary late-round track record.
Check out the Pats' fifth- through seventh-round picks under Bill Belichick. The Patriots have hit on long-term starters like Dan Koppen and David Givens, as well as current contributors like Alfonzo Dennard and Julian Edelman.
Oh, and a decent sixth-round quarterback as well.
New England's team-building philosophy emphasizes a strong middle class over a top-heavy roster. While early-round picks may hold the greatest upside and attract the most attention, critical depth arrives on Days 2 and 3 of the draft.
With that in mind, here is an early look at six projected late-rounders who could provide excellent values to the Patriots.