NFL FREE AGENCY

NFL Notebook: Analyzing the Patriots’ roster heading into the draft – there are opportunities

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The Patriots did so much work during free agency — bringing in some 10 players who could start or play meaningful roles this season — that it's been tough to keep up, or at least figure out how the pieces are going to fit into the larger picture.

The easy math is, the Patriots have 79 players on their roster (Patrick Chung is the 80th at the moment) when 90 is the limit. The team has 10 draft picks. Some think this means the Patriots could package some of their picks — perhaps up to get a quarterback, or out for picks in 2022.

That can't totally be dismissed. The roster certainly has one huge gaping hole at quarterback, so that makes sense. And with the 2020 college football season and scouting process largely upended, maybe kicking the evaluation can down the road so you can make better decisions with more information (there are zero in-person interviews with the pro days) might not be the worst idea.

But when you dig deeper into the roster — and account for the fact the Patriots have 28 unrestricted free agents in 2022, including 12 who have or figure to get major minutes this season — you realize there's some fat when it comes to the final 53-man roster and you could see a path to least an additional seven roster spots. That would give the Patriots plenty of room to sign a robust draft class (doubt they use all 10 this year) and a healthy crop of undrafted free agents.

And the areas left open would seem to match up well where the Patriots are expected to be looking for help — now or down the line — in the draft.

Let's start with my depth chart on both sides of the ball.