The structure of the NFL offseason has left fans in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment. Though free-agent bargains are still available, the majority of the money in that department has already been spent. And yet, with about a month to go before the draft, it's still a bit early to make any definitive conclusions about a team's draft plans.
Of course, that will not halt the often fruitless draft speculation train. Now is the period when myriad rumors make potential connections, fostering a fun (but also exhausting) exercise about virtually every conceivable draft possibility for each team.
The New England Patriots are as tight-lipped an organization as any, but even the steel curtain shrouding Foxboro occasionally springs a leak. Consequently, Pats fans at least have an idea of who their team might select on draft day, even if New England is as likely as any team to throw a curveball.
Not all rumors are true of course, but it's also true that we should not readily dismiss all those whispers. With the caveat that prospect evaluations are not final at this point, here's one perspective on the validity of some recent Patriots' draft rumors.