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Patriots Personnel Director Nick Caserio Shares his Draft Thoughts and Possible Trades with Former Coworkers

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While head coach Bill Belichick won't be speaking to the media this week, Patriots.com managed to snag director of player personnel Nick Caserio for a one-on-one interview that was quite insightful.

Caserio is the right hand of Belichick and is one of the key decision makers behind the scenes. While Belichick ultimately gets the final say, Caserio will be the one interacting and initiating trades and discussions with teams and players.

98.5's Bob Socci, who handled the interview, asked a great question about the connection between free agency and the draft, and what level of communication occurs between the college and pro scouts.

"They kind of intersect," Caserio explained. "The past handful of weeks, we've had our college scouts going through the combine prep and at the same time our pro scouts, Dave Ziegler and his group, they were working on the free agent portion of it and establishing the free agent board.

"It's done independently but then from my end of it with Bill [Belichick] we kind of work together and look at the draft and free agency and have a sense of the positions that are deeper and figure out which opportunity is best to fill a particular need at the time."

The two methods of adding new players really impact the team building process. For example, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks is arguably the team's priority free agent, but the draft is extremely deep at defensive tackle. The high quality of player in the draft could really alter how the Patriots approach contract negotiations with Hicks and could drive down his contract value in the eyes of the team.

Beyond the topic of free agency, Caserio explained the general process of adding players to the team.

"The things that we've looked for in years past are the same things we'll continue to look for this year and moving forward," Caserio said. "Ultimately, we're just trying to find players that fit the Patriots, fit a certain profile, have the qualities that are required at that particular position, try to identify those [players], and then try to incorporate them into our program as best as we can."

New England places a large focus on bringing in players and maximizing their strengths, while still balancing the need for the player to meet certain profile requirements. We've been hearing from former Patriots front office persons about the New England approach, and we'll be discussing it tomorrow.

Socci closed the interview with a question about those former front office persons that are now in charge of other teams, and how that could impact the number of opposing teams that could be willing to trade during the draft or during the season.

"Our lines of communication will be open with those teams," a laughing Caserio replied.

Hopefully we'll see the Patriots active during both free agency and the draft.