Duke guard Laken Tomlinson was a four-year starter and a Senior Bowl invitee. (NFL.com)
It could be defensive tackle. It could be cornerback. It could be offensive line.
The New England Patriots could call upon several positions at No. 32 overall in the 2015 NFL draft. And along the five-man front, there are several variables to account for, inside and out.
With left guard Dan Connolly still a free agent, and with right guard Ryan Wendell and left tackle Nate Solder entering the final years of their deals, New England’s line stands in a pliable stage heading into April 30.
One of the closest things to a long-term certainty there is at center, where Bryan Stork, a fourth-round pick last May, earned a total of 13 starts as a rookie. But where fellow fourth-rounder Cameron Fleming and swing man Marcus Cannon fit next season is unclear. And the same can be said of where New England’s war room will fit in this year’s prospects.
Head coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and the Patriots may be able to put all the spots in place by drafting one, however.
UConn’s Byron Jones could be on the fringe of the first round. (ESPN.com)
It’s the number of cornerbacks on the New England Patriots’ roster as the 2015 NFL draft draws near. And it’s a number that was subtracted from before it was added to during the first wave of free agency.
With both starters from last season’s team now on other teams, New England went out and signed three veterans into the mix in Chimdi Chekwa, Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain in March. But there may soon be another to account for this month.
Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio and the Patriots’ war room may see April 30 as an opportunity not to replace Darrelle Revis or Brandon Browner, but to reshape the corner position itself. And with the rights to pick No. 32 overall at the end of the first round, several names could be in consideration should the organization opt to stay put.
Maryland’s Stefon Diggs is projected as an early third-day pick. (ESPN.com)
Bill Belichick has shown interest in Randy Edsall-coached players before.
Edsall coached guard Donald Thomas, and cornerbacks Darius Butler and Robert McClain during his tenure at UConn. And since he’s been at Maryland, defensive tackles A.J. Francis and Joe Vellano, as well as receiver Kevin Dorsey have also been rostered by the New England Patriots.
Perhaps there will be more to add to that list. The Patriots head coach, an Annapolis High graduate, was spotted at Byrd Stadium in College Park for the Terps pro day Thursday.
Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio was also in attendance, reportedly serving as quarterback for the workouts.
Jerod Mayo has played in 12 games for the Patriots since 2013. (NFL Game Rewind)
The New England Patriots brought in linebacker Rolando McClain for a free-agent visit this week. And while the 25-year-old has since returned to the Dallas Cowboys on a one-year deal reportedly worth up to $4 million, New England’s off-the-ball interest could be telling at this stage in the game.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the Patriots offered McClain a one-year, $4 million contract. But the 12-game starter in 2014 left without signing, and ultimately agreed with the Cowboys on a comparably structured deal Wednesday.
McClain now is back in a situation he enjoyed a comeback year in, after spending the 2013 season out of football. That familiarity could have very well factored into his decision, as he should remain in the mix as Dallas’ middle linebacker, allowing the injured starter he replaced, Sean Lee, to slide over to the weak side.
In New England, McClain’s spot on the depth chart would have been far less certain in the long-term. Yet, on the other side, the Patriots’ off-line linebacker spots are also uncertain at this time.
Oklahoma’s Jordan Phillips could be in consideration if waiting at No. 32 overall. (NFL.com)
In under a month, Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio will be facing the board, Berj Najarian will be on the phone, and the New England Patriots will be on the clock at pick 32 overall.
The end of the 2015 NFL draft’s first round won’t be unlike recent years for the Patriots’ war room. The same faces will be taking part within it. But there will be new prospects taking part on the outside. And with defensive tackle a position in question now that Vince Wilfork is a Houston Texan, perhaps one available will get a call from One Patriot Place on April 30.
Much can change between now and then, as can perception of how New England will maneuver through its nine total picks. Though for now, here are five interior defensive linemen to consider should the Patriots stand pat with the first one, with film glimpses courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com.
A combine invite, UCF’s Breshad Perriman waited until his pro day to run the 40. (NFL.com)
Bill Belichick didn’t waste much time getting out of the annual league meetings in Arizona.
The New England Patriots head coach was back on the scouting trail and in attendance for the Central Florida pro day on Wednesday, the Knights program confirmed via Twitter.
A total of 30 teams were represented and looking on as 22 NFL draft prospects went through their workouts. And one of those draft prospects, wide receiver Breshad Perriman, stood out in his.
The Patriots’ ineligible-receiver method gained 41 yards in January. (NFL Game Rewind)
The New England Patriots will no longer be able to use ineligible receivers and four offensive linemen against the Baltimore Ravens.
On Wednesday, during the NFL meetings in Arizona, the league owners voted to ban the tactic featured prominently during New England’s playoff run, the Ravens announced.
The new rule requires a player with an eligible receiver’s number to line up inside the tackle box if declared ineligible, and if said player lines up incorrectly, a five-yard penalty will be assessed for illegal substitution.
Bill Belichick answered questions at the AFC coaches’ breakfast on Tuesday. (NFL.com)
Bill Belichick spent 40 minutes fielding questions at the AFC coaches’ breakfast Tuesday morning in Arizona, as part of the NFL’s annual meetings.
There was little ground broken by the New England Patriots head coach over that time, after he had remained quiet through his appearances at the combine and several college pro days since winning Super Bowl XLIX.
But there were some notable matters covered by Belichick, and he appeared in mid-season form for the reporters on hand, two months removed from his last trip to Arizona.
Bill Belichick was in attendance for Louisville’s pro day. (NFL Game Rewind)
The New England Patriots are less than one day into free agency, and the likes of linebacker Colin McCarthy and edge-rusher Jabaal Sheard have made visits thus far.
But so has the Patriots head coach.
On Wednesday morning, Bill Belichick was back on the scouting trail. He was alongside the Cincinnati Bengals’ Marvin Lewis and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin at the University of Louisville pro day, the Cardinals football program announced.
Edge-rusher Vic Beasley headlines the participants in Clemson’s pro day. (NFL.com)
Bill Belichick has been making the rounds across Southeast this week.
After beginning at Auburn, then working out the likes of wideout Chris Conley and center David Andrews at Georgia, the scouting trail led the New England Patriots head coach to the Clemson pro day on Thursday, the Tigers football program shared.