Nick Caserio: Wide Receivers Among Strengths Of 2014 NFL Draft

Marqise LeeThe 2014 NFL draft is considered one of the best in recent memory, and the class of wide receivers is considered especially deep.

New England Patriots’ director of player personnel Nick Caserio went through his defining characteristics of the 2014 draft class on Tuesday at Gillette Stadium.

“I’d say the underclassmen are a huge part of it,” Caserio said. “Obviously, the largest number that we’ve had. There are certain positions — like there are every year — of strength. The receiver position is a deep group. There’s a deep group of running backs. There’s a deep group of defensive linemen that are different types of players.

“I think there’s a lot of good football players that may not get drafted, which is the case every year, because just from a shear numbers standpoint.”

A record number of underclassmen declared for the draft this year — 98 in total. Among those sophomores and juniors, there are 20 wide receivers, 19 running backs and 17 defensive linemen.

Since NFL teams can’t have contact with underclassmen until the college season is over and the players declare, the Patriots have had to put in extra work to get acquainted with those 98 players. They have two extra weeks this year, since the draft was pushed back until May, but Caserio said the team isn’t changing their approach.

“We’re not really doing anything differently,” Caserio said. “Has it given us a few more weeks? Maybe. But I would say just generally speaking, it hasn’t really had much impact. Maybe it gave Bill (Belichick) the chance to run the half marathon over the weekend, which maybe he didn’t mind. Whenever the draft is, whenever they tell us it is, we’ll be ready for it.”

The Patriots selected two underclassmen in the 2013 draft — wide receiver Josh Boyce and cornerback Logan Ryan. Belichick has picked 17 underclassmen in his 14 drafts with the Patriots.

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