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Patriots pick up four picks

New England was awarded four compensatory picks during the annual NFL coaches and owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla.

The Patriots received one fourth-round pick, two sixths and a seventh rounder from the league as a result of free agent losses the team incurred following the 1998 season. That year New England lost six players to free agency, including center Dave Wohlabaugh, linebacker Todd Collins and punter Tom Tupa.

The extra picks will help New England as the team continues its youth movement. Though the Patriots have no first-round pick, they now have 11 picks overall. They now have one pick in rounds two through four, two fifth-round picks and three picks in both the sixth and seventh rounds.

In addition to the compensatory picks, New England also has two picks as a result of previous trades. The Patriots got a fifth-round pick (161st overall) from St. Louis in a 1998 trade for Mike Jones, and they have a seventh-round selection (212th overall) from Philadelphia in a trade for Dietrich Jells.
Since 1997, only one New England draft pick, safety Marcus Washington in 1999, has been released by the team before the start of the season. New England has been awarded three compensatory picks since the league started doing so in 1993. Last season the Patriots got wide receiver Sean Morey in the seventh round, and in 1996 they got defensive tackle Devin Wyman and guard J.R. Conrad.

Compensatory picks are awarded to teams based on free agents lost the prior offseason. The quality of the pick is determined by a formula that includes number of players lost, the salaries of those players, the playing time those players had with the new teams and the free agent additions that teams make.

A total of 31 picks were awarded to 14 teams. New England, Green Bay, Tennessee and Washington were the only teams to receive fourth-round picks. Washington, which currently holds the second and third overall picks, was awarded selections in the fourth, sixth and seventh rounds. The Packers got the most picks with four, including a fourth-rounder and three seventh-round selections.

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