New England Patriots Official Visits: Classic Misdirection


There’s enough going on in the NFL pre-draft shenanigans to make all the subplots in Game of Thrones seem elementary by comparison. You’ve got combine interviews, Pro Day workouts, official visits, private workouts, unofficial contact, and, of course, the ubiquitous “REPORT: _____” from “well-connected sources”. Throw in today’s report that Georgia running back Todd Gurley is visiting the Patriots, and it’s enough to make one feel like they’re taking crazy pills.

We’re here to make this a tad bit easier for you, although given that even Mel Kiper Jr can’t consistently get his draft guesses right, we’ll do what we can.

So. Official visits. Sounds like kind of a big deal, right? A team can bring up to 30 players in for a visit before the draft, and most of the time, these visits consist of sit-down interviews and medical exams. A team needs to be judicious in inviting players for visits, since each of these visits is an important part of the pre-draft process.

Just not in the way you might think.

In an entry to SI’s MMQB, Robert Klemko describes official visits as a Batman-and-Joker chess match, as much about smoke screens and deception as it is legitimate interest. Quarterbacks are a notable exception – Klemko notes that all three 2014 first-round QBs visited the teams they were eventually drafted by, compared with only 16 of the other 29 first-round picks in 2014 visiting the team that picked them. Barely half, really.

Pats fans especially need to take note of that last bit, because New England clearly isn’t in the market for a quarterback. So in other words, the Patriots can use visits to crank the BS-meter to 11, while still finding out the majority of what they need to know through Pro Days and private workouts.

Don’t believe it? Take a gander at a few of the prospects that the Patriots hosted on official visits last year:

Teddy Bridgewater (QB – drafted by Minnesota)

Johnny Manziel (QB – drafted by Cleveland)

CJ Fiedorowicz (TE – drafted by Houston)

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S – drafted by Green Bay)

Deone Bucannon (S – drafted by Arizona)

Jeremiah Attaochu (OLB – drafted by San Diego)

Stephon Tuitt (DE – drafted by Pittsburgh)

Austin Sefarian-Jenkins (TE – drafted by Tampa Bay)

Now, with that in mind, check out who New England has hosted official visits for this year, by way of the hard-working folks at :

(Organized by Position – Name – Alma Mater)

RB – Mike Davis, South Carolina

RB – John Crockett, North Dakota State

WR – DeVante Parker, Louisville

WR – Jamison Crowder, Duke

WR – Malcolme Kennedy, Texas A&M

WR – Chris Conley, Georgia

TE – Cameron Clear, Texas A&M

OG – Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah

OG – Tre Jackson, Florida State

C – David Andrews, Georgia

C – Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech

DE – Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State

DE – Tavaris Barnes, Clemson

DE – Corey Crawford, Clemson

DT – Eddie Goldman, Florida State

DT – David Irving, Iowa State

LB – Paul Dawson, TCU

LB – Stephone Anthony, Clemson

LB – Denzel Perryman, Miami FL

LB – Tony Steward, Clemson

LB – Reshard Cliett, South Florida

CB – Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest

CB – Chris Dunkley, South Florida

CB – Justin Coleman, Tennessee

CB – Bobby McCain, Memphis

S – Cedric Thompson, Minnesota

S – Nick Perry, Alabama

The focus here is clearly on the defensive side of the ball – there have been 11 offensive players (2 running backs, 4 wide receivers, 1 tight end, 2 offensive guards, and 2 centers), compared with 17 defensive players. Those 17 defensemen are pretty heavy on the front-seven, with 3 defensive ends, 2 defensive tackles, a whopping 5 linebackers, 4 cornerbacks, and 2 safeties.

Seems pretty in line with what every Joe Blow analyst says the Patriots need, right? Some cornerbacks to “replace” (HAHAHA) Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner? Maybe a DEEP THREAT, TAKE-THE-TOP-OFF-A-DEFENSE receiver? Linebackers in case Jerod Mayo gets injured again, like he has for the past two seasons? A few offensive linemen to keep Tom Brady on his feet and off the turf?  The next Vince Wilfork with one of those defensive tackles?

Except that, like Klemko’s piece notes, the vast majority of those folks are, more than likely, players that the Patriots either don’t have any interest in, or, let’s be serious, probably won’t have a serious shot at drafting without trading up anyway.

Meanwhile, the list of players the Patriots have worked out privately is a much better window into who they could be looking at – especially at the wide receiver position. (This is via, who keeps track of things like this so I don’t have to.)

Running Back/Fullback

RB – Corey Grant, Auburn

RB – Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn

FB – Jalston Fowler, Alabama

Wide Receiver

WR – Nelson Agholor, USC

WR – Sammie Coates, Auburn

WR – Chris Conley, Georgia

WR – Jamison Crowder, Duke

WR – Geremy Davis, UConn

WR – Tre’ McBride, William & Mary

WR – Tyrell Williams, Western Oregon

Offensive Line

OT – David Andrews, Georgia

OL – Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah

Defensive Line

DT – Travaris Barnes, Clemson

DL – Angelo Blackson, Auburn

DT – Corey Crawford – Clemson

DT – Deon Simon – Northwestern

DL – Gabe Wright – Auburn


LB – Reshard Cliett, South Florida

LB – Paul Dawson, TCU

LB – Denzel Perryman, Miami


Justin Coleman – Tennessee (CB)

Kevin Johnson – Wake Forest (CB)

Bobby McCain – Memphis (CB)

Eric Rowe – Utah (CB)

Cam Thomas – Western Kentucky (CB)


Nick Perry – Alabama (S)

Ronald Martin – LSU (S)

And if you’ve been drooling over a wide receiver, in a draft that’s stocked with them, this is where it gets really juicy: Duke’s Jamison Crowder and Georgia’s Chris Conley were both brought in for official visits and a private workout from the Patriots.

(Of course, the same is also true for cornerbacks Justin Coleman, Kevin Johnson, and Bobby McCain, and all three linebackers listed above, and safety Nick Perry, and OT Jeremiah Poutasi, and DL Travaris Barnes and Corey Crawford.)

Using a first-round pick on a wide receiver is about as un-Belichick as it gets, but most of those wideouts on the private workout list might be realistic targets later on, especially in the second round, where, you know, Belichick drafted that little speedster and eventual Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch.

Just saying.