The future once seemed bright as Tom Brady's successor, Jimmy Garoppolo, was going to shine in the spotlight once the future Hall of Fame quarterback decided to hang up the cleats. Yet the Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for an underwhelming second-round pick. Follow that with a tough Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and reports of tension in the organization, and panic started to set in for Patriots Nation. Many wondered if this was the beginning of the end for a franchise that has been the front-runner in the NFL for well over a decade.

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How much longer can the Patriots sustain their success?

This has been the question surrounding the New England Patriots for years now. There will come a time when future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick will no longer be on the field for the Patriots.

However, if Tom Brady keeps reigning over the AFC, there may be many more years for the dynamic duo. Looking elsewhere, the Patriots lost key players this offseason in free agency such as Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis, and Danny Amendola. With losses like these come holes to fill. The Patriots were active in free agency themselves by adding names such as Bengals running back Jeremy Hill and Falcons defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn. On top of those signings, New England traded for safety and Devin McCourty's brother, Jason McCourty to aid their secondary.

With other spots to fill on the roster, who will New England target in the upcoming draft?

Draft prospects for New England to target

The most notable holes on the Patriots' roster entering the draft are at linebacker, secondary, and offensive line.

They also have a void to fill at backup quarterback as Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to the 49ers last season. As the Patriots will not have the option of drafting a top quarterback such as Baker Mayfield [VIDEO] or Josh Rosen, expect New England to target someone like Mason Rudolph from Oklahoma State. He will be available in the second or third round and is someone that has the arm strength to hit receivers like Brandin Cooks in stride.

As for linebacker help, they took a hit last season with Dont'a Hightower injured most of the year. Two linebacker prospects that will be available once New England's picks are up are Rashaan Evans from Alabama and Malik Jefferson from Texas. They both provide strength to stop the run but also speed to cover the outside, something the Patriots lacked last season.

The Patriots' secondary showed its weakness in the Super Bowl and those weaknesses need to be addressed through the draft. The only cornerback on the roster to show consistency has been Stephon Gilmore.

That being said, two potential cornerbacks the Patriots could look at in the middle rounds are Mike Hughes from Central Florida and Carlton Davis out of Auburn. These players will be available in the middle rounds and could add depth to New England's secondary. Both of these prospects add speed and power which helps in terms of both covering and open-field tackling.

Is Rob Gronkowski heading elsewhere?

This offseason has been a roller coaster for the star tight end and New England's plan for the upcoming season. Starting as soon as right after the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles, Rob Gronkowski [VIDEO]provided no clarity in committing to next season, with rumors floating about him joining the WWE. Due to this, the Patriots have expressed the possibility of trading the tight end which would obviously leave a big hole to fill. According to ESPN's Jeff Darlington, sources close to Rob Gronkowski say he's almost a lock to return for the upcoming season, but if things take a turn for the worse, who can the Patriots replace him with?

Two tight ends New England could focus on in the draft are Oklahoma's Mark Andrews and South Carolina's Hayden Hurst. Both similar in their abilities, they each have "Rob Gronkowski qualities" and could be suitable replacements. These prospects each led their team's offense as the focal point, while their combination of size, speed, and good hands gave opposing defenses a tough time. With the draft soon approaching, and Rob Gronkowksi yet to provide any clarification on his future with the team, expect New England to at least consider one of these top tight end prospects.