When the NFL draft kicks off Thursday night, we'll be covering it every step of the way.
We'll have live coverage on Boston.com throughout the three-day event, starting at 7 p.m. Thursday night, bringing analysis and commentary from all of our writers and more.
In some eyes, the draft marks the turning of a page for a franchise. For New England, the Patriots can put 2012's disappointing finish in the rear-view mirror and look forward to the final assembly of the team's roster. Whom the team will pick is up in the air. But after the past 2 1/2 months of roster moves, we have a pretty good idea of what positions they'll be looking to pick up.
After overtures to Emmanuel Sanders ended, and considering the team dumped Brandon Lloyd, a wide receiver is definitely on the docket. Whether that happens in the first round is another matter entirely.
In coach Bill Belichick's reign, the Patriots have yet to value the receiver position enough to select one in the first round, instead selecting four defensive linemen, two offensive linemen, two linebackers, two tight ends, one running back and one defensive back. It just so happens that Belichick has gone on a shopping spree in free agency for defensive linemen this offseason, picking up Canadian Football League players Jason Vega and Armond Armstead as well as former Raider Tommy Kelly, fueling the notion the Patriots will finally look to this long-ignored skill position in the first round.
But history and precedence speak loudly against it. The Patriots are far more likely to trade down, something they've done 15 times under Belichick's tutelage. (The Patriots have made a whopping 50 draft-day trades since Belichick has been on board.)
There are other key positions for the Patriots to address: Cornerback (for the future), defensive end (depth), linebacker (sub package coverage situations), safety (depth), and guard (depth). Of course, the team doesn't need to make a selection at each of these positions, but addressing them can boost the team's long-term viability as a contender. And we're sure that's what is Belichick's interest foremost.
Here are some quick details on the Patriots' first night of the draft:
- The draft starts at 8 p.m. and can be watched on ESPN. If you don't have ESPN, don't worry. Follow along in our live blog. If you have ESPN, don't worry, there will be Patriots-focused coverage in our live blog. (It's also friendly on mobile devices for those scurrying around in the evening hours.)
- The Patriots hold the No. 29 pick in the first round.
- The estimated time for the Patriots to make a selection is around 11 p.m.
- For the first round, each team gets 10 minutes to make a selection.
OK, before you join Greg Bedard in his draft-day chat, why don't you let us know in the comments what position you want the Patriots to focus on.