FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Members of the media aren't the only ones conducting mock drafts. Count Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots scouting staff in the group as well.
"Sometimes it just sparks a conversation," Belichick said Friday morning at the team's annual pre-draft news conference. "If you did a mock draft where each guy has a team, and now you look at the board and, 'OK, now it's our turn to pick,' and it's, 'Gee, this is a scenario we haven't really thought about,' that can stimulate some [thoughts]."
Belichick added, "We don't know what the other teams are going to do. We don't know what we're going to do. Many of them probably don't know what they're going to do either; it will probably depend on what happens in front of them. It's an exercise to complete the process of preparation. ... I'd say that's kind of the purpose of the mock draft. We don't sit around and do it all day, but we do it as an exercise."
Belichick said the mock drafts are often reflective of what happens during the draft in terms of being ready for the unexpected.
The Patriots are one of the intriguing teams in the 2018 draft because they enter with two picks in the first round (23, 31), two in the second round (43, 63) and one in the third (95). In his 18 years leading the Patriots draft, Belichick has made 62 draft-day trades, which was something he alluded to while noting how the team is in different position this year with multiple first-round picks. The team's initial pick in 2016 was at 60th overall, and their initial selection last year was 83rd.
"Going into those past two drafts, I'd say we were able to eliminate a number of players just based on where we were selecting," he said. "This year, we need to know the draft from top to bottom. There are a handful of players that are probably out of reach, but realistically, just about everybody is in play."
Belichick added that it doesn't change the Patriots' scouting process, but it might increase the level of work the team puts in on certain players compared to past years.
Overall, he said the Patriots have 98 to 99 percent of their information as they await this weekend's medical recheck for some prospects.
Another point Belichick stressed was how the draft is one part of the overall puzzle. The Patriots currently have 72 players on their roster and enter the draft with eight selections. That leaves them 10 other spots to fill with undrafted free agents or other free agents.
"The preseason schedule was released and I noticed on that schedule there were no games in May or June or July. Preseason games in August, so it doesn't look like the regular season is going to start until September this year," he said with a dose of sarcasm. "So that's four months of team-building. There will be other player acquisitions and deletions, I'm sure, after the draft -- as there always are with our team and every other team in the league."
Belichick also highlighted how there are more prospects from New England-based schools than prior years.
"Steve [Addazio] at BC has done a great job of building that program, acquiring talent over there. They have a number of players," Belichick said. "UConn. UMass. Holy Cross. Maine. A lot of New England schools have guys that are going to be factors in the draft at one time or another. It's good to see that. It's made some local scouting; traveling is easier. It's a good group in this area this year."