FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In transitioning from coverage of football games to the team-building process of the offseason for the New England Patriots, the past two days have been spent highlighting a 1-to-10 ranking of the team's impending free agents, and also how there's an aspect of strategic planning for a group of four ascending defenders who must be accounted for at this time.
Then there's the draft.
In setting the table for the crux of media coverage in the coming months, these are the major areas. Specific to the draft, here is what the Patriots currently have in terms of selections:
Sixth round (from Houston in Keshawn Martin trade)
Seventh round (from Houston in Ryan Mallett trade)
The first-rounder was stripped by the NFL as part of the Deflategate punishment. Meanwhile, the fifth-rounder went to Houston in the Martin trade, while the team's own sixth-rounder was shipped to Chicago for linebacker Jon Bostic.
Meanwhile, one draft analyst expects the Patriots to cash in with four additional compensatory draft picks -- third round (for Darrelle Revis), fifth round (for Vince Wilfork), sixth round (for Shane Vereen) and seventh round (for Akeem Ayers). Compensatory picks can't be traded.
If that's the way it unfolds, the Patriots will still have 10 overall selections.
In his season wrap-up interview on sports radio WEEI on Wednesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked if the team's approach might be affected by not having a first-round pick.
"We never really worry about where we are or aren't located initially, unless you're picking in the top 10, which we rarely are but we've had a couple situations where that was the case; I think you evaluate the players a little differently [in that situation]," Belichick said.
"We have draft choices and we've moved up, we've moved down. So I think you still have to evaluate all the players. Obviously we're not going to be moving into the top five or top 10. ... But there's the opportunity to move in the draft. So we go through the process and evaluate them all, and however it turns out, it turns out. We want to be prepared for all rounds.
"This year, we have more picks in the latter part of the draft, and certainly as we get closer to the end part of the process, we want to make sure we've thoroughly done our homework in that area. But at this point, we're looking to cover everything. We're not trying to exclude any particular aspects of it. That's where we normally are at this point in time."