History -- and recent personnel losses -- would seem to point to the idea of Bill Belichick drafting a defensive tackle or defensive back this spring in the first round. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

History — and recent personnel losses — would seem to point to the idea of Bill Belichick drafting a defensive tackle or defensive back this spring in the first round. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Predicting how the Patriots will approach the draft can be a fool’s errand. But history tells us that when it comes to their approach with high-value picks — combined with the recent personnel losses of Darrelle Revis or Vince Wilfork — if they end up sticking with just one selection in the top 50, they’ll try and find a defensive back or defensive lineman.

Since Bill Belichick took over just prior to the 2000 draft, the Patriots have had 24 picks in the top 50, and they have spent half of those on defensive linemen or defensive backs — six each. (In addition, they’ve taken four offensive linemen, three tight ends, two wide receivers, two linebackers and one running back with those selections.)

Of that group of 24, you can easily count 10 players as being long-term starters: Wilfork, Devin McCourty, Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Richard Seymour, Dont’a Hightower, Jerod Mayo, Rob Gronkowski, Chandler Jones and Nate Solder. You could also make an argument that three others (Benjamin Watson, Ty Warren and Patrick Chung) were in the league long enough to qualify as contributors.

While it’s unclear how that stacks up against the rest of the league — that’s a more in-depth blog post for another day — the fact that the Patriots have been able to hit on 42 percent of those picks is a good number. That stat is made all the more impressive considering the fact that New England has had just two picks in the top 10 in that span (Seymour at No. 6 in 2001 and Mayo at No. 10 in 2008). That’s second on the list of fewest top 10 picks in that span. By way of comparison, since 2000, the Lions and Jaguars have had the most top 10 picks (10 each), while the Colts, Steelers, Broncos and Giants have had the fewest (one each).

How does all this figure into this year? Ultimately, no one throws more curveballs on draft weekend than the Patriots, and the same should be true this time around. (It’s no surprise that no draft expert can seem to agree on what direction New England will go this time around.) But if you’re looking for the Patriots to utilize their 32nd pick on a defensive lineman, history tells us that’s usually a good thing: Of the six defensive linemen they have taken in the top 50, they’ve hit on four of them: Wilfork, Seymour, Warren and Chandler Jones. One was an undisputed miss (Ron Brace) and the sixth (Dominique Easley) gets an incomplete for playing roughly half of his rookie season before going on injured reserve.

However, as successful as they’ve been at targeting defensive linemen and plugging them immediately into the system following those high value picks, they’ve struggled when it comes to identifying and drafting defensive back, at least when it comes to those same high-value picks. McCourty and Chung are the only two defensive backs taken in the top 50 who have enjoyed successful careers — Eugene Wilson had one very good year before a slide in semi-obscurity, but Brandon Meriweather, Darius Butler and Ras-I Dowling have all made little to no impact at the NFL level, at least when they were in Foxboro.

Of course, when it comes to drafting and developing defensive backs, maybe the organizational philosophy is more about quantity than quality: Since 2000, the Patriots have used most of their picks at defensive back (26), while defensive line (22) and offensive line (22) round out the top three. They’ve drafted 17 linebackers, 13 wide receivers, 10 tight ends, eight running backs, eight quarterbacks, three fullbacks, two kickers (one, Owen Pochman, also worked sparingly as a punter), one punter and one long snapper.

In the end, no one is suggesting that the Patriots will be able to replace Revis or Wilfork with a rookie. There’s always a ton to consider when the pick is submitted — scheme fit, approach, playing style. And simply put, there’s no one in this draft class at either cornerback or defensive line who can have the impact on the 2015 Patriots that Revis or Wilfork would have had if he was still a part of the franchise. (That’s not to say that a player taken at that spot couldn’t eventually grow into that role — it’s important to note that Revis was taken 14th overall by the Jets in 2007, while Wilfork was selected 21st overall by New England in 2004.)

But when you consider their historical approach, combined with their recent personnel losses, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see New England lean on a semi-familiar formula when they’re on the clock this spring.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots have signed free agent running back Travaris Cadet.

Travaris Cadet was reportedly signed by the Patriots on Tuesday. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Travaris Cadet was reportedly signed by the Patriots on Tuesday. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The Patriots have signed free agent running back Travaris Cadet, according to Field Yates of ESPN.

The 26-year-old Cadet, a 6-foot-1, 210-pounder out of Appalachian State, has been in the league for three seasons, all of them with the Saints. A changeup option out of the backfield, he has 45 catches over the course of his professional career ‘€” including 38 last season ‘€” to go along with 11 rushes for 37 yards.

On the surface, Cadet appears to be a candidate to fill the role of third-down back, which was vacated when Shane Vereen left for the Giants earlier this offseason as a free agent.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

On Tuesday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gave a farewell salute to departing defensive lineman Vince Wilfork via Facebook. After 11 seasons as a teammate of Brady in New England, Wilfork signed with the Texans on Monday.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

After leaving New England on Monday, wide receiver Stevie Johnson was reportedly deciding between signing with the Chargers or the Patriots. Tuesday morning, Johnson made his decision.

According to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 in Washington, Johnson will sign with the Chargers. She added it was a tough decision, but came down to his family.

The 28-year-old left the Bills after the 2013 season when he was traded by Buffalo to San Francisco. The 49ers released him last week. In seven seasons in the league, Johnson has 31 touchdown receptions and over 4,200 yards receiving. His best seasons came in a three-year stretch between 2010-12, when he caught at least 75 passes and had over 1,000 yards receiving in each season.

Johnson will likely have more of a prominent role in the offense in San Diego than he would in New England.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Patriots lost their top cornerbacks in the past week in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner via free agency, but haven’t yet replaced them.

Although it’s nearly impossible to replace the pair (one being arguably the best corner in the game), the Patriots are bringing another cornerback to Foxboro for a meeting.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots will meet with former Bengals cornerback Terence Newman on Tuesday. He met with the Vikings on Monday.

Newman, a former first round pick (No. 5 overall) by the Cowboys in 2003, played his first nine seasons in the league with Dallas, before playing his last three with the Bengals. He reportedly contemplated retirement, but the 36-year-old is going to give it at least another season. Newman hasn’t played a full season since 2010.

His best season came in 2010 when he had five interceptions with the Cowboys. Newman also had at least four interceptions in his first six years in the league.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Patriots officially signed veteran tight end Scott Chandler on Monday.

The Patriots officially signed Scott Chandler on Monday. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Patriots officially signed Scott Chandler on Monday. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Patriots officially signed veteran tight end Scott Chandler on Monday.

Chandler has played seven seasons in the league, playing for the Chargers, Giants, Cowboys and for the last five years, the Bills. He’s excited about joining a team as successful as the Patriots.

“Obviously very excited to be part of a championship organization,” Chandler told Jackie Brittain in a 1-on-1 interview with the team website on Monday. “It’s something I have always wanted to do with my career and now I get that chance I am really looking forward to it.”

The 6-foot-7, 260-pounder said the Patriots were very welcoming, which was what he was expecting.

“It was a lot of what I expected — very warm and inviting,” he said. “I feel comfortable here. Mr. [Robert] Kraft runs a top class organization and obviously Coach [Bill] Belichick does a great job of keeping everyone around here — it was very inviting. Everyone was really nice.”

Last season in Buffalo, he played in 16 games with five starts and finished with 47 receptions for 497 yards and three touchdowns. He recorded career highs in 2013 when he caught 53 passes for 655 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers could go up even more with Tom Brady as his quarterback.

“Pretty excited about that,” said Chandler. “Not very often do you get to play with the best quarterback ever. That had a big determining factor in my decision.”

Chandler will serve as a nice complement to fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski. He says he can do everything that is asked of an NFL tight end.

“I can do a little bit of everything as a tight end,” Chandler said. “I am a veteran guy. I am a guy you can count on to know what to do and to do my job.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Bill Belichick issued a statement on Vince Wilfork Monday, shortly after it was announced the defensive lineman signed with the Texans after 11 seasons in New England.

Bill Belichick issued a statement on Vince Wilfork Monday, shortly after it was announced the defensive lineman signed with the Texans after 11 seasons in New England.

“Few players reached or will ever reach the special level of Vince Wilfork. He is a great champion and one of the classiest people I have ever been around — just a kind, genuine and giving person who was all about our team, football, winning and bringing joy to others. There may have never been anyone at his position with as much strength, toughness, intelligence, instinctiveness and athleticism. He is the best defensive linemen I ever coached, an all-time great Patriot whose place on our team will be missed but whose remarkable career as a Patriot will be remembered forever.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price