FOXBORO, Mass. — With an inordinate amount of variables this offseason, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio maintains the team's approach to the draft has not changed.

If the lockout continues, teams won't be able to contact their draft picks for any reason, and they won't have the ability to give them any semblance of a playbook. So, if there is an abbreviated training camp, the rookies will be at a severe disadvantage without the chance to run through rookie camp, passing camp and minicamp.

Also, unless there's a miracle, the draft will happen before the start of free agency, which creates a huge question mark for front office personnel.

With that and many other uncertainties, Caserio insisted the Patriots have to stay on course and draft the best players on the board. Overthinking could increase the potential for mistakes.

"I'd say our approach this year is no different than in years past," Caserio said Thursday. "We're looking for the player that can improve our football team the most, and that's what we're focused on doing. We'll evaluate a player on his skill set based on the information that we gather. Our approach hasn't really changed."