FOXBORO -- The Patriots don't really care if they're set at a specific position. If you're their kind of football player and you play the same position, they're not opposed to taking you.
It's an approach that the team has taken for years under Bill Belichick, and a recent visit by Utah guard Isaac Asiata highlights the thinking behind said approach.
Asiata is a 6-foot-3, 323-pound guard. Most 225-pound bench-press reps at the combine (35). Visited the Patriots, looks like. https://t.co/FkL5TefWar— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) April 18, 2017
The Patriots have depth at guard on their roster as currently constituted. Young depth. Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason -- in their first and second years, respectively, last season -- started nearly every game for the Patriots as they made their run to a fifth Lombardi trophy. (Mason was a reserve in Week 1 as he worked his way back from injury.)
Behind them are 2015 fourth-round pick Tre' Jackson (who started nine games two seasons ago but missed last season due to injury) and 2016 sixth-rounder Ted Karras.
Still, Asiata showed up to Foxboro and could be headed for the relatively elite company that resides on New England's draft board. Though guard may not be widely considered a position of need for the Patriots in this draft, but that doesn't matter.
If they like a player, they're going to take him, regardless of what the depth is like on the roster.
During his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday, Nick Caserio highlighted Nate Solder as an example of how the team thinks in situations where they're faced with picking up a player who has no clear path to key role immediately.
"I think our philosophy has always been, we want to put good football players on our football team," Caserio said. "Regardless of position. We've talked in years past about the Solder example. We had Matt Light, Sebastian Vollmer, and we drafted Nate Solder in the first round.
"Did we need a tackle? I mean, I don't know, but he played jumbo tight end and right tackle, which he had never played before his rookie year. Our job and our focus is to try to get good football players, put them on the team, and then as we get them, figure out what to do once we have them here."
Asiata checks in at 6-foot-3 and 323 pounds. He posted 35 reps on the 225-pound bench at this year's combine, which tied him for the top mark with Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson. Asiata was named a second-team All-Pac 12 honoree for his play last season.