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A few new New England Patriots

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The New England Patriots' 2016 draftees, starting from upper left: Cyrus Jones, Devin Lucien, Elandon Robert, Jacoby Brissett, Joe Thuney, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Malcolm Mitchell, Ted Carras, and Vincent Valentine. Right, the site of the NFL Draft. (AP file photo) The New England Patriots' 2016 draftees, starting from upper left: Cyrus Jones, Devin Lucien, Elandon Robert, Jacoby Brissett, Joe Thuney, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Malcolm Mitchell, Ted Carras, and Vincent Valentine. Right, the site of the NFL Draft. (AP file photo)

Looking at New England's 2016 NFL draft class

The 2016 NFL Draft took place this past weekend, with all 32 NFL teams coming together in Chicago to restock their rosters with the best in rising collegiate talent.

The New England Patriots were without their first-round pick this year thanks to the still-unfolding fallout from DeflateGate, but still managed to have their more-or-less typical draft experience, picking nine players and making a number of trades. It's not a particularly sexy group, but it does appear that the team potentially addressed some areas of need.

So let's meet the new guys.

(Please note: this is not an effort to grade the New England draft class. Literally nothing has changed about any of these players other than they have been granted an opportunity to make an NFL team. No one has any idea whether any or all of them will be successful in cashing in on that opportunity. Giving a team a grade for a draft that just happened is essentially a worthless exercise. We're just having a look.)

Second Round (60th overall): Cyrus Jones, cornerback, Alabama

In the pass-heavy NFL of today, one can never have too many quality defensive backs. So it's no surprise that New England went after Jones, who combines a lot of the qualities that the Patriots find attractive. Belichick respects Alabama coach Nick Saban and likes his players, so this pick makes a lot of sense. A solid, albeit unspectacular pick.

Third Round (78th): Joe Thuney, offensive lineman, North Carolina State

Offensive line was another position of need; the team has definitely had its struggles on the line last season. Thuney is one of those versatile lineman that Belichick loves, though few see him as capable of manning a tackle position full-time. Still, this pick likely shores up the line depth in a necessary way.

Third Round (91st): Jacoby Brissett, quarterback, North Carolina State

From the moment Brady's suspension was upheld, it seemed a given that Belichick would take a QB in the draft. Brissett wound up being the choice, a big, athletic kid with some good tools. He's the latest in the line of early-rounders drafted as potential successors to Brady. He won't play for a while, but time to develop is rarely a bad thing.

Third Round (96th): Vincent Valentine, defensive tackle, Nebraska

There has been some turnover on the D-line of the Patriots, so it makes sense that they would try to reload through the draft. Valentine is a big guy 6-3, 329 pounds who could develop into a solid interior guy. He'll start nice and low on the depth chart, with time to grow into the gig.

Fourth Round (112th): Malcolm Mitchell, wide receiver, Georgia

Mitchell seems made for the Patriots, a hard-nosed guy with elite short-burst speed. Still, he's awfully similar in size and skill set to a number of guys already on the roster -a taller, more athletic burner might have been the smarter pick. With New England's wideout development history, Mitchell's got an uphill climb.

Sixth Round (208th): Kamu Grugier-Hill, linebacker, Eastern Illinois

Grugier-Hill is a player whose NFL position is unclear linebacker or safety but by all accounts, he has some real potential as a special teams player. A quintessentially Patriots pickup.

Sixth Round (214th): Elandon Roberts, linebacker, Houston

This guy made a lot of tackles in college, but he's another one who will have to make his mark on special teams. The Pats are stacked at linebacker, so we'll have to wait and see with Roberts.

Sixth Round (221st): Ted Karras, offensive lineman, Illinois

A four-year starter, Karras is a football bloodline guy his great-uncle Alex was a Pro Bowl defensive lineman before punching a horse as Mongo in 'Blazing Saddles.' The interior line is crowded; Karras could be the odd man out.

Seventh Round (225th): Devin Lucien, wide receiver, Arizona State

The Pats are stacked at wideout, but they've had some luck on late-round flyers in the past we'll see if Lucien joins the list.

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From now until September, it's all speculation. We have no idea how many (if any) of these players will play their way onto the New England roster. It's all going to come down to talent, determination and more than a little luck. Hopefully, these are names that we'll be hearing from for years to come.

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