By Rohan Bommaraju — Sports Editor
The week of the NFL combine is upon us. It is at this time that the draft stock of prospects can either rise drastically or fall with their physical attributes being shown to the world.
The Patriots have had a formal interview with all the wide receivers this combine. 98.5 Digital Producer and Writer Alex Barth says that there’s little correlation between the meetings and the shoes they draft. “Perhaps this year is different, but while it’s cool to see them meeting with some of these big-name receivers it doesn’t help us project much.”
The Patriots spent big money last year during Free Agency. Barth says that he doesn’t see New England drafting any tight ends. “I always encourage everybody to take in the draft process as a whole, because it helps you become familiar with new players entering the league. That being said, it’s hard to envision the Patriots actively chasing tight ends this year although it is a really fun TE class overall.”
This year the Patriots have a weak draft selection within the top 100 picks. New England owns only 3 picks within the top 100, 1.21 2.54 3.85(round.pick#). The Patriots’ first pick, the 21st pick may be moved to gain more capital. Barth says that It will depend on how the board shakes out within the first. “There is a real drop-off around the 20th player on the big board, where players 20-80 have very little separation. If the top of the draft goes chalk, it could be a great spot to trade down from 21 and pick up more Day 2 assets.”
The patriots being connected to all wide receivers is not surprising. Many say the patriots need to get a true #1 wide receiver and that can be done through the Draft. Barth says it’s been a long time since the Patriots had a pick that was made for them. “Chris Olave is my favorite WR in this class for the Patriots. It’s been a long time since there was a top WR as tailor-made a fit for them in the draft. He’s an excellent route runner who can be a threat at all three levels with full formational versatility.”
The Patriots have also been connected with Linebackers in the draft. Barth says that the value of linebackers is found in the latter days of this draft. “I think the real value there is on Day 2 in players like Christian Harris, Quay Walker, Chad Muma, Leo Chenal, or even Troy Andersen early on Day 3.”
The combine can be a big part of the draft process for prospects. Barth says that the combine has a bigger impact on skill position than a lineman. “That’s not to say linemen can’t have their draft stock impacted like Jordan Davis this year but those positions are more about raw technique and more can be learned at an event like the Senior Bowl. Players may skip workouts for a number of reasons, normally either injury or they’re happy with their current draft projection and don’t want to risk a bad test or getting hurt. Working out at Pro Days, in a familiar setting with familiar players and coaches, maybe a more forgiving environment.”