The navigation through this week’s NFL draft will offer a real glimpse of the way the Patriots have evaluated themselves at this stage of the team-building portion of the offseason.

They only have five picks, but with just a few starting positions open for audition, the Pats shouldn’t be hurting for assets. The three-day spectacle, which begins tonight with the first round, progresses tomorrow with the second and third rounds and concludes Saturday with the final four rounds, helps lay the foundation for teams that hit their selections.

So, after reassessing their needs for three months, the Patriots will unveil their stance. They’ve got one true immediate need at wide receiver, which has been remade with the subtractions of Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd and the additions of Danny Amendola, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins. Because of that, they’ll almost certainly spend one pick on a player who can contend for a frontline spot at outside receiver.

After that, the needs stretch to defensive end, cornerback, interior pass rusher, safety and a coverage linebacker. Unless the Pats benefit from a fortuitous fall, any player at those positions would open as a backup with the opportunity to earn more reps as a rookie and maybe start in 2014.

From there, the Patriots could choose to expand their best-available pool to tight end, offensive line and running back, depending on the player’s value against the draft slot. This happened exceptionally well with tackle Nate Solder in 2011, when the Pats ignored more immediate needs for long-term gain.

Now, they just need to figure out how to attack the board. They’ve got selections in the first (No. 29), second (No. 59), third (No. 91) and seventh (Nos. 226 and 235) rounds. They’re missing their picks from the fourth (No. 126, traded to Buccaneers for Aqib Talib), fifth (No. 162, traded to Redskins for Albert Haynesworth) and sixth (No. 197, traded to Bengals for Chad Ochocinco) rounds.

The common line of thinking is the Patriots will trade down, as they’ve done 15 times under Bill Belichick, to accumulate more picks. After all, they’ve never made fewer than six selections in his tenure.

Truly, that won’t be known until the board shakes out. Additional picks are great, but not when the right player falls. Maybe that’s Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen, once the consensus top player at his position whose rough pre-draft process includes injuries and a reportedly failed drug test.

But he can play, and that’s what the Pats need.

In 2010, the Patriots successfully drafted high-quality players who could make an immediate impact after a disastrous playoff exit in 2009, including cornerback Devin McCourty, tight end Rob Gronkowski, linebacker Brandon Spikes and tight end Aaron Hernandez. But in 2011, after the core was set from a successful rebound, they added less immediate needs with long-term potential such as Solder, running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, quarterback Ryan Mallett and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon.

Last year was a mix, as the Patriots addressed two holes by trading up for defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont’a Hightower, added long-term potential in safety Tavon Wilson and defensive end Jake Bequette, and capped it by stealing freefalling cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.