The thing about the NFL draft is that, as former major league pitcher Joaquin Andujar once so eloquently said, “Youneverknow.”

Guys who get picked in the sixth round (Tom Brady, anyone?) or even the seventh round (Julian Edelman, anyone?) can transform into some of the very best players at their positions.

Guys who get picked in the first round (running back Ki-Jana Carter, quarterback JaMarcus Russell, quarterback Ryan Leaf) sometimes don’t make it.

This year seemed especially hard to figure out. Even Bill Belichick, the mastermind behind the New England Patriots’ continued dominance, said as much Thursday night when discussing the team’s first-round selection, defensive tackle Malcom Brown of Texas.

“I think this is one of those drafts where you see guys in those mock drafts – one draft has him at 15, another guy has him at 65, the same player – I don’t know,” said Belichick. “It just seems like there’s a lot of spread on a lot of players in this draft.”

That was evident by the Patriots’ picks this year. While Brown was universally regarded as a top-25 pick, the others were all over the place.

Sports Illustrated, for example, had Florida State guard Tre’ Jackson (fourth round, 111th pick) rated as its 53rd-best prospect while Mike Mayock had him at 90 and Gil Brandt had him at 85. And SI had Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers (fourth round, 101st pick) ranked 83rd. Mayock had him at 89 and Brandt didn’t even list him.

New England took Stanford safety Jordan Richards with the last pick of the second round, at 64, and then Oklahoma defensive end Geneo Grissom at 97 in the third round. SI had Richards ranked 168th, Grissom 117th. Neither Mayock nor Brandt listed either among their prospects.

This much is evident. The Patriots selected players that seemed to fit their philosophy: smart, athletic, versatile, hard-working.

And they already seemed well-versed in PatriotSpeak.

Richards was called “Coach Richards” by his Stanford teammates because he knew what everybody should be doing on every play. But it was most important, he said, that he do his job.

“You don’t try and do anything above and beyond what you are asked, but you do your job and you do it your best of your ability,” he said.

Last year’s motto during a Super Bowl title season, of course, was, “Do your job.” Belichick must love this kid.

And then there’s Grissom, who played defensive tackle, linebacker and even tight end at Oklahoma. Asked if the Patriots told him what position he might play, he replied, “Come on guys, you know I can’t answer that.”

Belichick must REALLY love that kid.

It seems that nearly every player the Patriots selected played at least two positions in college, except maybe long snapper Joe Cardona of Navy (fifth round, 166). Tight end A.J. Derby of Arkansas (sixth round, 202nd) was the Razorbacks’ backup quarterback until his senior year.

But you can select players with character and versatility, and it won’t mean a thing if they can’t play. The Patriots seem to have done a pretty good job getting players who can.

In Brown they may have gotten the replacement for Vince Wilfork, who left after 11 years to sign with Houston.

For all Wilfork’s girth – he was generously listed at 325 pounds – whenever anyone talked about Big Vince, they first mentioned how mobile he was for a big guy. Brown is listed at 6-foot-4, 320 pounds. And he is very mobile.

“Yeah, I think he’s athletic for 320, or whatever he is,” said Belichick. “He can run, plays on his feet. He’s got good quickness.”

Then they took Grissom – who apparently loves the Boston Bruins, Zdeno Chara in particular – and Flowers – who loves the Adam Sandler movie “The Waterboy” – 97th and 101st, respectively. That added depth to the defensive line and gave the Patriots more potential pass rushers. Later they added a linebacker in the sixth round, Matthew Wells of Mississippi State at 178, and another in the seventh, Xzavier Dickson of Alabama at 253. Wells excels in pass coverage, Dickson is a disruptive edge rusher.

They used two fourth-round selections on offensive linemen – Jackson (who many had projected to go much higher) and Georgia Tech center Shaq Mason, whose full name is Shaquille Olajuwon Mason (yep, named for the NBA stars). Both are big, versatile and tough, traits that the Patriots love in their offensive linemen.

With starting right guard Dan Connolly still unsigned, they could help the Patriots’ interior line.

Of course they didn’t address one of their biggest defensive needs until the seventh round when they took cornerback Darryl Roberts from Marshall with pick 247. He’s very physical (six penalties last year), is a very good athlete, good pass defender and has decent size (6-foot, 182 pounds).

So did the Patriots find an answer to their secondary concerns in the last round?

We’ll see. After all, youneverknow.