What we learned from Nick Caserio's pre-draft Patriots news conference

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio was at the dais for the team’s traditional pre-draft news conference Wednesday. This marked the fifth straight year Caserio has been front and center for the news conference, which used to feature head coach Bill Belichick.

Some of our top takeaways:

Roster has more numbers than the norm at this time. Caserio noted there are “not as many [roster] spots as there have been in the past.” The team currently has 75 players under contract, which leaves 15 spots that will mostly be filled by rookies (drafted or undrafted). “In years past, it’s been a little lower,” he said, also stressing that the draft is just one part of a year-long team-building process.

Depth of draft from picks 20-45 nothing out of the norm. Some have opined that this draft is strong through picks 20-45, with the prospect at 45 not much different than 20. Caserio was offered up that viewpoint and said that is “probably similar to most years” and teams will “find quality players within that range.” Then he detailed how in most drafts there are about 8-10 players who pretty much everyone has conviction about. After that, opinions will vary. Caserio said the Patriots specifically try to identify players by focusing on their role and how they would fit on the team, not necessarily by round or grade.

No trade talks at this point. The Patriots have made 53 draft-day trades in Belichick’s tenure, but talks are quiet right now. “From our perspective, there isn’t a lot of dialogue or conversation to this point,” Caserio said. “We really haven’t talked to too many teams. Next week, will we talk to a team or two? Possibly. [But] until you actually get into the draft and the players start to come off the board, it’s kind of hard to say, ‘We’d like to move up.’”

Let’s not forget some humor. Speaking of trades, Caserio was asked about the final pick of the first round (No. 32) and trade possibilities. The 32nd pick is the final selection of Day 1 and Caserio struck an empathetic note with reporters, saying, “If we don’t pick, then you guys will be all pissed off because you won’t have anything to write a story about the next day except that we traded out of it.”

Why he's happy to sign contract extension. Caserio inked a long-term extension with the team, reportedly through 2020, and he explained multiple reasons why it was the right decision for him. "The Kraft family has been extremely generous to me and my family, and there is no other coach in football that I’d rather work alongside than Bill Belichick," Caserio said. "I like winning and I enjoy my role. I have plenty of responsibility, and I enjoy being a part of a winning culture and winning organization. I feel blessed. To be here and to have the opportunity that I have, I’m really grateful, and hopefully we can continue to win some games along the way as well."

Transition has been solid with college scouting director. Pointing out that it’s been a year since former director of college scouting Jon Robinson departed for Tampa and Monto Ossenfort was promoted to the role, Caserio said “the transition has gone really well.” Caserio credited Ossenfort, who enters his 14th NFL season and 11th with the Patriots in 2015, for working well with himself, Belichick and others.