Strides made by '09 class evident

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The success of the 2010 New England Patriots season is going to be defined, in part, by how well some of the team's younger players develop.

The Patriots drafted 12 players in 2009, and a 13th made the roster as a free agent (QB Brian Hoyer). All remain on the roster.

The team drafted another 12 players this year.

So that's 25 players right there, and if 20 of those are on the final 53-man roster, that's a whopping 37.7 percent of the team's players.

Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio had a revealing comment along those lines today, answering a question from Erik Scalavino of Patriots.com.

"The rookies have only been here for about four to five weeks, so their improvements are a little bit on a smaller scale. But I think some of the second-year players -- Patrick Chung, Darius Butler, Julian Edelman -- those are guys that had a great offseason. They were some of our offseason award winners. It's sort of carried over into the spring. That's a tribute to what they did."