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Analytics predicts which players will be available for the Patriots in the first round of the NFL Draft

New England is picking 14th overall.

Minnesota v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

One thing the New England Patriots likely will not lack in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft is options. Sitting at No. 14 overall — their highest pick in 15 years — and with 11 total selections in hand, they are in a position to manipulate the board to their liking by either trading up or down.

But even if they stay put, they should be able to find a good prospect to possibly address some of the biggest needs on their roster: cornerback, offensive tackle and wide receiver, and, a bit further down the list, defensive edge, linebacker and safety.

The question is who will be available once New England actually is on the clock, presuming the team does not move from its current draft slot.

We will find out on Thursday night. Until then need to project either through mock drafts or other means available.

ESPN Sports Analytics is taking the latter route, with the results presented through its Draft Day Predictor. The tool puts a numerical value at the likelihood a prospect will be available at a certain point in the draft using “prospect grades from Scouts Inc, expert mock drafts, and team needs along with a few other factors” as its basis.

So, what does it say for the Patriots? The following:

ESPN Sports Analytics

Several players on this list are potential targets for the Patriots in Round 1. Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon and Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., for example, are the consensus top three at the cornerback position.

All three would make sense for the team at No. 14, but only Porter Jr. has a likelihood of more than 50 percent to actually be available. In order to get Gonzalez or Witherspoon, New England — at least according to the projection — would have to trade up.

The same is true for the top wide receiver, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba. At offensive tackle, meanwhile, the situation looks a bit more favorable: only Peter Skoronski (Northwestern) is considered to come off the board before the Patriots’ pick; Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State), Broderick Jones (Georgia) and Darnell Wright (Tennessee) are all more likely to be on the board than not.

At the end of the day, though, projections are just that: possible outcomes based on the information available — information that is just a fraction of what teams have at their disposal. So, while it seems the Patriots might be in an unlucky position when it comes to picking the best cornerback or wide receiver prospects in the class, the draft has proven itself anything but predictable through the years.