The New England Patriots traded their first-round pick in the NFL draft to the Minnesota Vikings for four picks Thursday night.
Coach Bill Belichick shipped the 29th choice for selections in the second, third, fourth and seventh rounds this year. Those are the 52nd, 83rd, 102nd and 229th overall. With the Patriots’ pick, the Vikings chose wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee.
The Patriots went into the draft with five picks, the fewest in their history. They had one in each the first, second and third rounds and two in the seventh and final round.
Now they have a total of eight picks – two in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth and three in the seventh.
But with their earliest pick not coming until the 52nd overall, they could package some choices to move up. Their top needs entering the draft were at defensive back, wide receiver and defensive end.
The Patriots also traded in the first round last year, but those deals were to move up. They chose defensive end Chandler Jones from Syracuse with the 21st pick and linebacker Donta’ Hightower from Alabama with the 25th. Both started most of the games.
The first six of their seven picks last year were used on defensive players. The Patriots still need help on defense, but they also lack depth at wide receiver after losing Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, their top two pass catchers last season. Welker signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos and Lloyd was released.
The Patriots added veteran receivers Danny Amendola, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins in the offseason as new targets for Tom Brady. But of the eight players they drafted at that position over the last 10 years, only Julian Edelman has made an impact, only as a backup.
After the first round ended on Thursday, there were several players left at positions of need that were available. They included wide receivers Keenan Allen of California, Markus Wheaton of Oregon State, Robert Woods of USC and Quinton Patton of Louisiana Tech.
In the secondary, Jamar Taylor of Boise State, Jonathan Cyprien of Florida International and Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State were not picked Thursday.