COMMENTARY | Predicting what the New England Patriots will do on draft day is like trying to out swim a shark.
The Patriots rarely do what you think they will. It's not just a matter of forecasting whether the team will select offense or defense either, because you also have to consider the possibility of a trade. New England coach/decision maker Bill Belichick has been extremely active in his 13 previous drafts with the Patriots. He's traded up 17 times, and traded down or for future selections 31 times.
The Patriots currently have five selections in this year's draft - the fewest during Belichick's tenure with the team - so trading out of the first round to collect additional selections seems like a strong possibility.
The Patriots have their own picks in each of the first three rounds, a seventh-round selection obtained from Tampa Bay as part of last year's Aqib Talib trade, and their own seventh-round pick.
The team's biggest needs are at receiver and in the defensive backfield, but the Patriots could also use help/depth on the offensive and defensive lines.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 2013 MOCK DRAFT
First round (29th overall)
As stated above, a trade out of the first round seems likely here. Buffalo, or another team interested in taking a quarterback late in the first round, might be a willing trade partner.
The team's No. 1 need is at receiver, but if the Patriots keep their first-round selection it's unlikely they'll bolster their receiving corps with that pick. New England hasn't selected a receiver in the first round since they chose Terry Glenn out of Ohio State in 1996.
It's more likely the Patriots go with defense first.
The Pick: Sylvester Williams (DT) North Carolina
Second round (59 th overall)
If the Patriots didn't surprise everyone in the first round, they'll likely do it here. Although there will be some tempting receivers and defensive backs still on the board, New England will go in another direction.
The Pick: Ryan Nassib (QB) Syracuse
Third round (91 st overall)
This choice could make or break the team's draft, and, because of off-field issues, a player the team is scheduled to have in for a visit could fall to the Patriots with this pick. If so, New England could get first-round talent in the third round.
The Pick: Tyrann Mathieu (DB) LSU
Seventh round (226 th overall)
It's hard to picture the Patriots not trying to accumulate some selections in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds via a trade. If they don't, they'll likely try to strike gold by picking a receiver with one of their seventh-round selections. The guess here is that they'll take a flier on a receiver with the first of those two seventh-round picks.
The pick: Mark Harrison (WR) Rutgers
Seventh round (235 th overall)
In recent years the Patriots have done an excellent job of turning unheralded players into productive offensive linemen. They'll try to do that again when they punctuate their draft by selecting a high-risk, high-reward player with the hope of strengthening the interior of their offensive line.
The pick: Josh Kline (OG) Kent State
Roger Brown is a New Hampshire Union Leader staff writer, and has been covering high school, college and professional football in New England since 1992.
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