It's that time of the year again.
It's a time for futile stabs in the dark as to which franchise will select which budding collegiate star. A time where the masses flock to offer their inane take on their team's destiny. A time where we all briefly overlook the ridiculousness of Mel Kiper's hair.
It's mock draft time.
In New England it's also one of the most stressful times considering head coach Bill Belichick's draft philosophy may very well be as anti-mock draft as possible.
The Patriots are known league wide as the team you contact if you're interested in wheeling and dealing draft selections.
New England rarely picks at its original allotted slot, preferring instead to make moves with interested teams and reap the benefits of their stockpiled selections. They've got six picks in the first three rounds for the upcoming 2011 draft and that's not by mistake, it's a team value.
Belichick has traded with an increased frequency over the last few years and with the recent drafting success they've had there's no reason to believe the Patriots won't again be active with their picks. With only five selections in the 2012 draft the plausibility of a trade gets even greater.
So while there's no way to know where the Patriots will be picking from the team still has obvious holes. These blatant needs can offer a decent idea as to what positions the team could target and where they might target them.
The following is a tiered display of the Patriots' top needs ranked by priority:
Tier One Needs: Outside Linebacker, Defensive End, Offensive Tackle/Guard
Tier Two Needs: Running Back, Wide Receiver, Cornerback
Tier Three Needs: Safety, Defensive Tackle, Middle Line Backer
Tier Four Needs: Kicker, Punter, Tight End, Fullback, Quarterback
So keeping New England's largest needs in mind along with their drafting/trading philosophy, here's a look at my 2011 mock draft.