FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots enter the NFL draft each year, the ideal scenario is that their roster is stocked in a way that if a game were to be played this week, there wouldn't be any major holes. That way, the club can go in a variety of directions during the draft, with long-range planning in mind.
After the signing of restricted free-agent running back Mike Gillislee on Monday, the New England offense looks loaded.
This is arguably the strongest top-to-bottom depth chart in the NFL. Brady turns 40 on Aug. 3 but has shown few, if any, signs of slowing down. Garoppolo is entering the final year of his contract, while Brissett is signed through 2019 (like Brady).
Over a span of the last five weeks, the Patriots have paid up at the position, signing Gillislee, White and Burkhead to deals that average more than $3 million per season in maximum value. This position looks well stocked, with the potential for a diverse committee in which each of the top options brings something a little different to the table. Any other running back added to the roster would seemingly have a tough time making the final cut.
Re-signed to a two-year deal as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Develin brings an element of toughness to the team -- on offense and special teams. Gronkowski provides insurance in the event of injury.
The No. 3 spot could be up for grabs in one of the better competitions, with the potential for a draft pick joining the mix in a year when the position is considered deep in the draft. If Gronkowski and Allen remain healthy -- which is a notable "if" -- they have a chance to be one of the NFL's best 1-2 combinations.
Including Slater, who is a special teams captain, the Patriots are primed to carry six receivers if everyone is healthy and plays up to his potential. Amendola, who agreed to a reduced contract for the third offseason in a row, figures to be managed carefully early in the season so he's at his best for the long haul.
With Solder, Fleming and Waddle scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the 2017 season, looking ahead to 2018 with a draft pick could make sense. The main issue, however, is that this year's draft class at tackle isn't considered strong.
One of the more promising positions on the roster, given its youth and upside.
Center: David Andrews, Karras
Andrews is a restricted free agent after the season, which could have the Patriots looking to add another option with the future in mind.