At its best, the NFL draft is really just a roll of the dice.

You pick a player who excelled in college and hope that he finds similar success in your system. Some do, some don’t. For every Tom Brady (sixth round, 199th player selected), there’s a Chad Jackson (second round, 36th player selected).

Nick Caserio, the New England Patriots’ director of player personnel, has said this year’s draft has “depth across all positions.” He hopes to mine some of it because the Patriots have several needs.

The Patriots have been making moves for the last six weeks to rebuild a roster that will continue to evolve through the draft and beyond. Now they’ll look to fill the gaps with younger talent.

While the Patriots don’t have a first-round pick this year, a casualty of the Deflategate saga, they have plenty of other picks: two in the second, two in the third, five in the sixth and two in the seventh.

That’s a lot of picks. You can bet they’ll be looking to move some of them around. Coach Bill Belichick has never been one to stand still. In his 16 drafts with the Patriots, he’s made 54 draft-day trades, including 17 to move up.

“Nothing is really set in stone, if you will,” said Caserio. “You have to be flexible. It’s pretty fluid and you just have to be prepared for when every opportunity comes.”

Given that, who are the Patriots looking at?

Good question, said the guy who just asked it.

When it comes to the Patriots, you can expect the unexpected. No one thought they’d draft a defensive tackle (Malcom Brown) in the first round last year after taking one (Dominque Easley) the year before. No one dreamed they’d take a quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) in the second round two years ago. The Patriots drafted offensive tackle Nate Solder first in 2011 when they had two starters returning.

One thing most draft experts agree on is that the Patriots will address their line needs quickly. Or take a running back. Or a linebacker. Or a defensive back. The mock drafts are all over the place for New England.

My guess: Unless an offensive star such as Alabama running back Derrick Henry falls all the way down to 60, they address the defense first, offensive line second.

For all the moves the Patriots have made on defense – and I love the signings of free agents Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton and Chris Long – the Patriots have to add depth on that side of the ball because they have no idea who will be back in 2017.

Defensive ends Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard and Long, and tackles Alan Branch, Knighton, Frank Kearse and Markus Kuhn are all free agents at the end of the 2016 season. So are linebackers Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Jonathan Freeny. So are cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan and safety Duron Harmon.

While the Patriots certainly won’t let all of them leave – Hightower, Collins, Butler, Sheard and Ninkovich are the biggest names – they’re going to lose some of them. It’s unlikely any rookie will step in immediately this year, but the Patriots have to have someone ready to step in and compete.

The Patriots selected defensive linemen Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom last year, but they need more. So look for them to go defensive in the second round. There are a lot of good players who could drop to them, or they have enough draft picks to trade up.

Notre Dame tackle Sheldon Day, Texas tackle Hassan Ridgeway, Nebraska’s Maliek Collins and Mississippi State’s Chris Jones are mentioned prominently as Patriots’ targets. Possible picks at linebacker include Ohio State’s Joshua Perry, Missouri’s Kentrell Brothers or – just because I love the name – Arizona’s Scooby Wright III.

Defensive backs of interest include Maryland’s Sean Davis (a cornerback/safety), USC’s Su’a Cravens (a safety/linebacker hybrid in the mold of Patrick Chung) or Mississippi State’s Will Redmond, a cornerback coming off a knee injury.

Given the need at offensive line, it’s certainly possible the Patriots will move to add depth there. They’ve invested heavily in the offensive line the last two drafts with center Bryan Stork, guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson and tackle Cam Fleming. But all you need to do is pop in a tape of the AFC championship game, when the line melted under Denver’s pressure and allowed Brady to be hit a stunning 21 times, to see that they need to be deeper and stronger. LSU tackle Jerald Hawkins, Stanford tackle Jon Abbott, Auburn tackle Shon Coleman and Indiana’s Jason Spriggs are possibilities.

Other needs are on the offensive side. If Henry, the Heisman Trophy winner, slides down to 60 the Patriots should scoop him up. If he’s gone, Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon, Arkansas’ Alex Collins and Utah’s Devontae Booker could be good choices.

The team could always use wide receivers and Pittsburgh’s Tyler Boyd, Southern Mississippi’s Michael Thomas, Rutgers’ Leonte Carroo or Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard could be targeted.

And then of course there’s the quarterback quandary. With Brady’s four-game suspension back on, it’s likely the Patriots will use one of their late picks on a quarterback.

There’s a lot for the Patriots to consider. But if they’re going to continue to contend for championships, they need to address future defensive needs.