After the college game scouting, the Senior Bowl, the Combine, and the Pro Day workouts comes the time when teams put the finishing touches on prospects. Potential picks come to town so that teams can either tie up any loose ends regarding a player or so the team can throw up a smokescreen. Each team is allowed to bring in up to 30 players. The Patriots have begun bringing in college players and you never can tell when they’re serious or throwing up the smokescreen. Here’s a wrap-up of the players they have brought in/will bring in that have been reported so far:
- Florida QB Tim Tebow wrapped up his high-profile visit to town earlier this week. Check out the previous report on this visit by clicking here.
- Among the first brought in were TCU DE Jerry Hughes. Hughes was a fierce pass rusher in college and would project to play OLB in the Pats 3-4, though he is slightly undersized. He does have experience dropping into zone coverage so a shift to LB wouldn’t be as big a leap as for players who played their college careers with their hands on the ground the whole time. Check out a YouTube video of him by clicking here.
- Tennessee tailback Montario Hardesty visited with the Pats yesterday. Hardesty has a 2nd-to-3rd-round grade so he could be a target for one of the Pats’ three second-round picks. He ran a 4.49 40 at the Combine which has helped his draft status. You can view a YouTube video of some Hardesty highlights by clicking here.
- Hardesty’s Tennessee teammate, DT Dan Williams also visited the team yesterday.Williams is likely to be drafted before the Patriots pick but there’s always the possibility that he could slip to them like Vince Wilfork did. The possibilities with Williams are interesting. If the Pats played more 4-3 like they did at times last season, he would make a great interior partner next to Wilfork. However, there’s also the possibility that he could play end in the 3-4 and use his bull-rushing skills to his advantage. The NFL.com scout page says that he is nearly “unblockable” one-on-one, which would free up the linebackers to make plays. Check out his NFL.com draft vignette here and some YouTube highlights here.
- Sticking with the college DT-to-3-4 DE theme, the Pats will be bringing in North Carolina DT Cam Thomas. Thomas does not grade as high as Williams and is a more likely pick-up if the Pats go that route. He is primarily a run stuffer and isn’t known for his pass rushing abilities, but he does have great size (6’4″, 330 pounds) and would command attention from the opposing O-line. Check out Cam Thomas highlights by clicking here.
I’ll pass along any reports of further college player visits to Gillette Stadium. One more note on Dan Williams: He played in front of Pats’ ILB Jerod Mayo before Mayo was drafted. I’m sure Jerod will be giving Belichick some of his insight and knowledge of Williams. If the Pats do move up, moving up for a defensive lineman makes sense as they need to replace Richard Seymour, and we know Belichick can never have enough good defensive linemen. The draft is just a few weeks away. Stay tuned!