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One position where the Patriots don’t need help is tight end. Hernandez was their third leading receiver last year with 45 catches, six for touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski, a second-round pick, caught 42 passes with 10 touchdowns.

They helped the Patriots to the NFL’s best record (14-2), and were major contributors to the team’s league-high 32.4 points per game. But the Patriots lost in the AFC divisional round, 28-21, to the New York Jets. It was the second straight season New England lost a home playoff game prior to championship weekend.

Despite all the scouting and analysis done for the draft, director of player personnel Nick Caserio said sometimes teams must decide whether to gamble on a player.

“In the end, you sort of have to, I don’t want to say go with a gut instinct, (but) maybe there’s an example of a player in previous years who was in a similar situation,” he said.

So, he might compare the potential draftee to how a current pro was viewed when he was entering the draft. But this year is different with the current NFL lockout of players, although that hasn’t changed the way the Patriots get ready for the draft.

“Our approach this year is no different than it’s been in years past,” Caserio said. “We’re evaluating the player for his skill set based on the information that we’ve gathered. And then, we’ll move forward from there.”

(This version CORRECTS total of draft choices in first three rounds in third paragraph.)