The New England Patriots have 12 draft picks April 25-27, an enormous opportunity for the Super Bowl champions to stay relevant over the next five to seven years.

Whether the Patriots leave Nashville, Tenn., humming a catchy tune -- or singing a depressing country song -- won't be known for a couple of years.

But make no mistake, this is a monumental draft for the Patriots, who have lost tight end Rob Gronkowski to retirement and seemingly an assistant coach every other day.

One of my favorite activities this time of year is to check out various NFL mock drafts.

With their first-round selection, 32nd overall, it's widely believed the Patriots will pick a tight end or wide receiver. (Of course, Bill Belichick being Bill Belichick, there's a great chance the Patriots will deal away the 32nd pick to move back into the second and third rounds).

During a quick glance, here's a few of the players linked to the Patriots with the 32nd pick:

* Deebo Samuel, wide receiver, South Carolina.

* Trayvon Mullen, cornerback, Clemson.

* Hakeem Butler, wide receiver, Iowa State.

* Jerry Tillery, defensive lineman, Notre Dame.

* Irv Smith, tight end, Alabama.

* Jeffery Simmons, defensive lineman, Mississippi State.

Chances the Patriots will take one of those six players in the first round? Close to zero.

Not sure which direction they will go, but good luck predicting what New England will do in its Foxboro bunker on April 25 -- and over the next two days as well.


The Patriots are well armed to reload with three picks in the top 64 and then three third-round selections.

Look for the Patriots to deal away several of the picks for established players. One guy that would look great in a Patriots uniform is Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green.

Green (6-foot-4) and Josh Gordon (6-foot-3) running deep routes? Julian Edelman running slants? A guy can dream, right?

Here and there

Lowell native Terance Mann helped his NBA draft prospects with a strong NCAA Tournament.

The Florida State senior guard collected 19 points and eight rebounds in a win over Vermont and then 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists against Murray State before a relatively quiet game in a loss to Gonzaga. In a recent mock draft, Mann was predicted to go in the second round (54th overall) to the New York Knicks. ... Don't count out Providence in the Frozen Four. One of the last teams to make the 16-team NCAA field, the Friars have the balance to leave Buffalo, with the national championship ... Academy of Notre Dame athletic director Lisa Zappala is running her 18th straight Boston and 20th overall. Talk about a great role model for high school kids.