The New England Patriots value scheme flexibility and positional versatility in all of their players. The Patriots also want to put the players in the best position to take advantage of their abilities, and to mask their inabilities.
It naturally follows that a player with more versatility will have a greater chance to be on the field in the myriad of schemes on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
"You're trying to create a profile of the player within our building," New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said after the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft. "And then how he's going to handle everything that comes along with being a New England Patriot- being in the program, [and] the demands that we place on those players.
"The bottom-line is that's the most important thing is getting players that we feel fit our program and what we're looking for on a multitude of levels."
The Patriots have spent the early rounds of the 2016 draft adding versatile prospects that can align in multiple roles.
"In games I was always pretty much trailing the top receiver for the opposite team," 60th overall pick cornerback Cyrus Jones said. "So they would line up on the outside the majority of the time... [but] I can definitely play nickel. It's no problem if I have to slide inside."
Jones also moonlights as a punt returner and Caserio noted that Jones added four return touchdowns as a senior.
"Whatever the coach needed of me," 78th overall pick offensive lineman Joe Thuney said about his role in college. "They would text me the week before a game asking to play this position and whatever gave us the best chance to win is what I was willing to do. That's all that really matters, is winning."
Caserio gushed about Thuney's ability to play both tackle and guard at a high level in college, and added that the Patriots worked Thuney out at center just to get a feel for the entire range of his potential.
"I feel like I'm versatile like you guys said," 96th overall pick defensive lineman Vincent Valentine said. "And so I could play at any position that the coaches put me in so I'm just ready to get to work. Whatever the coaches want me to do I'm willing to do it. I'm just ready for the ride."
The Patriots really like the fact that Valentine played every spot on the interior line, from 0-technique across from the center, to 5-technique outside the shoulder of the offensive tackle.
"I told the Patriots I'm willing to do anything I need to to help the team any way that I can," 112th overall wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell said."Regardless of if that's playing on offense, any special teams. I'll fill up the water if they want me to."
Mitchell was predominantly an outside wide receiver for Georgia, but aligned inside on a couple of snaps. He absolutely has a willingness to move around the formation- and even to the other side of the ball.
"I had a full year's experience at defensive back [in college] and I enjoyed it," Mitchell added. "To be honest, any time I got a chance to play football I enjoyed it."
And those are the types of players that the Patriots want in the system. They want players that love the game, are addicted to watching film, and will play whatever role the coaches ask of them.
Based on the first four rounds of the draft, the Patriots found players that are a perfect fit for the program.