Three months before the 2014 draft, Jimmy Garoppolo was in Indianapolis. (NFL.com)
The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine is set to get underway this Tuesday, with specialists, offensive linemen and tight ends reporting to Lucas Oil Stadium. And after pre-registration, medical examination, orientation and interviews, other prospects at other positions will join them.
On-field workouts will follow.
Head coach Bill Belichick and members of the New England Patriots staff will be on hand in Indianapolis to take note of each one. And while the measurements the Patriots collect from there will not the end-all, be-all to evaluations, they will be pieces to the puzzle.
They were just that in forming New England’s 2014 rookie class. And in turn, here is a look back on how future Patriots fared last February, with videos courtesy of National Football Fans.
A 2015 free agent, Akeem Ayers’ future in New England is unclear. (NFL Game Rewind)
The New England Patriots stand one week from the combine, one month from free agency, and less than three months from the NFL draft. That span will come with its twists and turns, but one corridor it could lead New England’s personnel department down is edge rush.
Four Patriots defensive ends registered sacks during the 2014 season. Rob Ninkovich logged eight of them off the left side over 1,040 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, while Chandler Jones logged six of them off the right side over 577 snaps. And when Jones was sidelined for six games with a hip injury, it was Akeem Ayers, a former 4-3 and 3-4 outside linebacker with the Tennessee Titans, who stepped in to log five.
Only now, the 25-year-old Ayers is slated to become an unrestricted free agent, and that may leave the 24-year-old Jones and the 31-year-old Ninkovich without a clear-cut running mate again in 2015.