FOXBOROUGH — The NFL draft begins Thursday night, and the Patriots hold just five picks: one each in the first, second, and third rounds, and two in the seventh.
And because they made it to the AFC title game, they will pick late in each round, beginning with 29th in the first.
But regardless of what happens — whether they pick at 29, whether they trade down, whether they acquire more picks, or just keep the five — director of player personnel Nick Caserio said Monday the team is ready.
“I’d say most of the work is done,” said Caserio. “I think we’re just at the stage where we’re compiling all of the information that we do have, trying to get organized.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of efforts by a lot of people on a lot of different fronts, starting with the scouting staff, on the college scouting staff, specifically with Jon Robinson and his staff.
“He does a really great job. I’m certainly appreciative for his efforts, but there are a lot of people that have put a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of effort into this endeavor.
“Hopefully, we’re prepared. We’ll see how it unfolds Thursday night, and get ready for the next part of the offseason.”
Caserio noted that while formal visits of prospects to team facilities have ended, teams still could go to work out players until Thursday morning. That happened in 2011 when Dante Scarnecchia traveled to Colorado to put Nate Solder through the paces just a couple of days before New England made him its first-round pick.
Over the last decade, the Patriots have had no fewer than seven picks in a year. They had six selections in 2002.
They could stay at five this year, or they might not.
“I think that sort of materializes in and of itself,” Caserio said of making draft-weekend trades. “Like, even going into the draft last year, we really hadn’t had any substantive discussions about moving up or moving down. It just kind of happened and materialized once we’re in the draft room and once we were on the phone.
“Could that happen when we get to the draft Thursday night? Possibly, but if we don’t, if we have five picks, we have five picks.
“I don’t think it changes our philosophy. We’re going to know the board top to bottom like we do every year. If there’s an opportunity that presents itself and makes sense, we’ll consider it. If not, you always have to be prepared to pick regardless of how many picks that you have.”
Would Caserio like more picks?
“We’ll take whatever we can get,” he said. “However we get them, we’ll take them. If we end up with five, we end up with five. If we get more, we get more.
“When you go into the draft, you know you have X amount of selections that you’re going to make and you have to be prepared every time your name comes up. That doesn’t change from one year to the next.
“However many picks you have, you make the pick, and if there’s an opportunity that’s out there that makes sense for you to move either way, then you consider if that’s the best thing for us at the time.”
After less-than-successful drafts from 2006-09, the Patriots seem to have righted the ship in recent years.
“I think, really, as a team we look at everything that we do — on the field, off the field, strength and conditioning, draft, etc., so we’re always trying to find ways to improve our systems and make them better, whatever it might be,” Caserio said. “I would say it’s an organizational philosophy of always trying to improve, always trying to get better, in the name of trying to win games.
“Because the most important thing, it’s about winning games.”
There was one non-draft-related question for Caserio, concerning the trade of cornerback Darrelle Revis from the rival Jets to Tampa Bay.
“Darrelle is a great player,” he said. “I think the Jets will do what they can. They’ll put a good team out there, whoever we end up playing, whoever is on the field, they’ll be good players, and we’ll have to make sure that we’re prepared for that.
“We’re going to have to face him, it looks like, sometime this season when we play Tampa Bay. He won’t be too far from us.” The Patriots play the Buccaneers Sept. 22 at Gillette Stadium.