Sunday morning marks the start of a four-week series of programs previewing and reviewing the 2017 NFL Draft on 98.5 The Sports Hub. 

By Bob Socci, 98.5 The Sports Hub

BOSTON (CBS) – The NFL’s three-day appropriation of the spring sporting calendar is only three weeks away. Beginning Thursday, April 27 in Philadelphia, the names of 253 college prospects and pro hopefuls will be announced as the next NFL Draft class.

As it stands on this Saturday, the last of the league’s 32 teams to submit a pick will be the Super Bowl champion. Of course, that’s the way it should be. But this year in the case of the Patriots, their first trip to the podium isn’t scheduled until the second night of the event, with a third-round selection at No. 72 overall. New England’s next choice is the 96th, followed by five more picks in the final four rounds.

Dealing with a dearth of early-round opportunities, the Pats potentially have the means of moving up. Can anyone in Cleveland say, “Jimmy Garoppolo?” Or bellow from the Bayou, “Malcolm Butler?”

And yet, here in the home of the five-time champs, bidding this fall for a third title in four seasons, it’s entirely reasonable to wonder how strongly the Patriots desire to move up in draft. Heck, you can even ask, sanely, do they even have a need to aim higher than 72nd?

It’s question we explored with Boston Herald reporter Jeff Howe on Sunday’s 2017 debut of the 98.5 The Sports Hub’s NFL Draft Show (listen below).

Consider, for example, that the Patriots finished their 2016 championship season with their top picks from three of the previous five drafts (2012, 2013 and 2014) employed elsewhere.

Furthermore, only three of their 10 first- and second-round selections in that same span were active for any of the 2017 postseason games.  One of those was Garoppolo; the others being Dont’a Hightower and Malcom Brown.

Meanwhile, fourth-round acquisitions like Malcolm Mitchell (2016), Trey Flowers (2015) and James White (2014) were catalysts for the Patriots‘ historic comeback in Super Bowl LI.

In offering his overview of the current state of the team’s roster and needs in the upcoming draft, Jeff also discussed the latest developments — or lack thereof — regarding Butler and Richard Sherman.

We were also joined by Rainer Sabin, an ex-Cowboys beat reporter for the Dallas Morning News now covering Alabama football. He helped break down the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s draft class and its most intriguing prospects:

Join us every Sunday leading up to the NFL Draft, as we strike up the conversation at 9 a.m.!

Bob Socci is the radio play-by-play voice of the New England Patriots. You can follow him on Twitter @BobSocci.