FOXBORO -- When Robert and Jonathan Kraft emerged from the Gillette Stadium tunnel on Thursday afternoon, they did so in the shadow of what was simultaneously both one of the smallest and largest draft classes in team history.
The Patriots selected only four players in this year's draft, the smallest class the franchise has ever had. But Youngstown State's Derek Rivers, Troy's Antonio Garcia, Arkansas' Deatrich Wise and UCLA's Conor McDermott all measure between 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-8, something the team's president and CEO pointed out almost immediately when the annual rookie photo op began.
"Jonathan and I were commenting, this is our 24th year of doing this, there's definitely something in the milk they're drinking," Robert Kraft said. "The height . . . We think we're competitve with the Celts."
The Patriots typically reserve events like Thursday's for their first- or second-round draft picks. But because the team had neither in this year's draft, they opted to introduce all four at once.
"This is the smallest draft class, officially," said Kraft. "It's the first time that we didn't have a first-round pick or a second-round pick. But we think that Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy and Mike Gillislee and Dwayne Allen are also part of this draft class. We gave up picks for every one of them."
The Patriots will hold their rookie minicamp this weekend.