FOXBORO -- The Patriots came into this draft with a gaping hole right in the middle.
New England owned just five picks, one each in the first, second and third rounds but none from No. 92 to No. 226.
The Patriots parachuted out of the first round, fleecing the Minnesota Vikings who absolutely, positively had to get into the first round to select Cordarrelle Patterson.
“It was an opportunity we thought made sense for us . . . We feel there’s a lot of good players that are still available,” said Patriots personnel man Nick Caserio. “We thought it made sense for our football team to make the move and that’s why we did what we did. We feel pretty good going into [Friday]. We have four picks [for rounds two and three] and we were going into the day with only two picks.”
Who was going to select Cordarelle Patterson that made Minny so jumpy? That’s not for New England to worry about.
Now, with the currency extracted from Minnesota, the Patriots can come back to the table on Friday for the second and third rounds with two second-round picks and two third-rounders.
“We were ready to pick,” said Caserio. “We had a few players that we had in mind that we were gonna talk about and consider picking and then we decided to make the move we did."
And in this draft -- which has plenty of “good” but precious little “very good” -- New England can move back up in the third to take a corner (Mississippi State’s Johnathan Banks, Boise State’s Jamar Taylor as man and zone options respectively), a wide receiver (Cal’s Keenan Allen, Tennessee’s Justin Hunter, Baylor’s Terrance Williams, USC’s Robert Woods) or a defensive lineman (Alabama’s Jesse Williams, Purdue’s Kawann Short).
“There’s a lot of players who could have gone in this round very easily,” said Caserio. “They haven’t. We felt the second and third round had some value in this draft and we hope we can capitalize on that.”
Of the three names I was told curried the most interest with the Patriots -- Sheldon Richardson, Hunter and Woods -- New England could have a crack at two of the three.
Richardson went off the board to the Jets at No. 13.
Around the AFC East, the Dolphins made the most noise by jumping up to get defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan with the third overall pick. The Jets had what would seem to be a nice first round, getting Alabama corner Dee Milliner and Richardson in the top half of the round, but their punchless offense went unaddressed. As for the Bills, they either got the guy to help lead their offense back from the long slog through mediocrity --quarterback E.J. Manuel -- or they signed up for another half-decade of sucking.
One figured the Patriots might try to add picks in this draft. But being able to add four -- three in rounds two, three and four -- is a result that even the most optimistic wheeler-dealer couldn’t have envisioned.
And, as Caserio noted, if there’s a run on the players the Patriots are enamored with begins, they have ammo.
“If some of those players start to come off and we want to make a move up, we have a little more flexibility to do that,” he pointed out.
To those outside the Patriots draft room, it’s sometimes a buzzkill when the first-round passes with the Patriots doing little.
But the Patriots seem more than happy where they are headed into Friday.