There is a widespread belief the Patriots will get itchy to accumulate more picks during this week’s draft. If that’s true, they will be trading down at least once or twice.

The Pats have only five picks because of trades for cornerback Aqib Talib (lost a fourth-round pick, gained a seventh-round pick), defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth (fifth-rounder) and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (sixth-rounder).

Bill Belichick never has used fewer than six selections (2002) in his 13 drafts as Patriots coach, and he has made at least 10 picks on six occasions. Plus, some of the Pats’ biggest needs — wide receiver, cornerback and defensive line — have enough quality players to stretch into the second and even third round, which could further their desire to move down from No. 29 overall.

Naturally, a desirable player could fall to them when they’re on the clock, so director of player personnel Nick Caserio noted it’s important to be flexible regardless of predraft strategy.

“I think that sort of materializes in and of itself,” Caserio said yesterday. “Even going into the draft last year, we really hadn’t had any substantive discussions about moving up or moving down. It just kind of happened and materialized once we’re in the draft room and once we were on the phone. Could that happen when we get to the draft Thursday night? Possibly, but if we don’t, if we have five picks, we have five picks. So we’ll take it as it comes. I don’t think it changes our philosophy.”

Of course, there might also be the hope to drop back, but they still would need to find a trading partner that has the picks to make a deal worthwhile. That’s why the draft is such an unpredictable process.