New England Patriots Draft News: Front office targeting WR’s at combine

Jameson Williams #WO38 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Jameson Williams #WO38 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots are currently checking off the first box on their offseason to-do list by finishing some key evaluations at the NFL Combine. While the Patriots and their head coach, Bill Belichick, typically keep a low profile at the Combine, that doesn’t mean they are sitting out the event watching on the sidelines.

Belichick and the front office will be using this time to put the finishing touches on their scouting reports of the players in attendance. While some have questioned what the Combine actually accomplishes, it’s a good way for teams to get a better understanding of some of the top prospects available. It also is the first glance we get at what each team’s draft strategy may be when the time rolls around.

The Pats have some clear needs this offseason, one of which is wide receiver. With that in mind, it was pretty interesting to listen to a large portion of the wide receivers in attendance at the Combine mention that they had met up with the Patriots beforehand. New England obviously needs help at wide receiver, so it’s encouraging to see them covering all their bases at one of their biggest positions of need.

The New England Patriots might use their top draft pick on a wide receiver

The first three position groupings that spoke with reporters at the Combine were quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers. New England is pretty much set at quarterback and tight end, so it wasn’t exactly surprising to see them focus heavily on the wide receivers early on. There are some key needs defensively as well, but offensively, wide receiver is going to be the top area of need this offseason.

This draft has a deep wide receiver class, so it doesn’t necessarily mean the Patriots will use one of their top draft picks on a wideout. That they were meeting with guys like Slade Bolden from the Alabama Crimson Tide, who figures to be a day three pick, proves that is the case. But it’s much more exciting to envision some of the top prospects catching passes from Mac Jones for the foreseeable future.

Top receiver prospects Chris Olave and Jameson Williams were two of the big names the Patriots met with the other day. Both are projected to be first round players that could be on the board when the Pats are up to pick with the 21st overall pick. You can bet the scouting staff has folders filled with information on these guys already, but getting a chance to talk to these guys in person is an extremely valuable opportunity.

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Both have constantly been linked to the Patriots since the season’s end, and both would be great fits in the system. Williams is another wide receiver from Alabama who probably would have been a top ten pick had he not torn his ACL in the National Championship Game. Olave is probably the best route runner in the draft, and his ability to create separation on any given play is exactly what the New England Patriots are looking for.

If the Patriots don’t want to invest their first rounder on a wideout, they could use on of their later picks and still come away with some solid value. Another name frequently linked to New England (another Alabama player, sense a trend here?) is John Metchie III.

Similar to Williams, Metchie is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in the SEC Championship Game, which may cause his draft stock to drop a bit. There’s a chance that Metchie could fall to New England in the second round at the 53rd overall pick. He already has a rapport with Jones from their days at Alabama, which would make him a perfect fit in the offense.

Whichever way the Patriots end up going, you should expect them to take at least one wide receiver at some point throughout the draft. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them use one of their picks during the first two days of the draft to address the position, even if they end up signing or trading for an established player. Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne are solid options, but more help is needed at the position for now and the future.

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The New England Patriots aggressive strategy with the wide receivers at the Combine is a good sign that they recognize one of the key weaknesses on their roster, and they are working on solving it. It may not come in the form of a top guy like Olave or Williams, but the Patriots extensive work with the wideouts at the Combine shows their intent to fix their biggest weakness on offense.