FOXBORO -- There will be about 300 players drafted at the end of the month, but the Patriots only consider 50-75 players as draft-pick worthy for their program.
That's what director of player personnel Nick Caserio said on Tuesday when he met with reporters for his annual pre-draft press conference. He acknowledged that the pool of players the Patriots are picking from is smaller than the norm.
"I would say it varies year to year, but I would say our draft board is smaller than most," he explained. "We are trying to find players that we feel comfortable with on all levels that we would actually draft. Not that are going to get drafted. Three-hundred players or whatever it is are going to get drafted. It's players that we would draft, that we would actually feel comfortable with in our program in some capacity."
That seemingly miniscule group doesn't include the number of players that the Patriots are anticipating don't get drafted but in whom they'll have interest.
"The Jonathan Joneses, the Brandon Boldens, the David Andrewses, who, could they have been drafted? Sure. Absolutely," Caserio said. "They didn't get drafted for whatever reason, but that's going to be another pool of players that come into our program, and some have had some more success than others.
"You have a couple of different groups. Here's the draft group. Here's the undrafted group. We spend a lot of time on the players that we maybe think are not going to get drafted. They could get drafted, but if they don't get drafted, we definitely want to work with that player because of X, Y and Z. We try to identify those. Andrews definitely fell into that category. Brandon Bolden was another player who fell into that cat. Jonathan Jones fell into that category. Drafted players, those are important. Undrafted players, they're equally important."
The Patriots currently have 15 undrafted players on their roster, including Ryan Allen, Danny Amendola, James Develin, Chris Hogan and Brandon King. That pool of players could factor significantly into the composition of this year's training camp roster as the team has 63 players under contract and seven draft picks. Though they may add or subtract picks when the draft arrives -- and though they could have a high-profile addition in Malcolm Butler -- that could still mean close to 20 undrafted players making up the 90-man roster.
So while their draft board may be smaller than that of other teams, that doesn't mean they won't have their eyes on a couple dozen players they're projecting will not hear their names called on draft day.