1. Tom Brady is going back to the Kentucky Derby. According to this report, the quarterback is expected to make the trek to Churchill Downs this year, along with current teammate Vince Wilfork, ex-Patriot Wes Welker and a boatload of celebs. This year’s Derby takes place on May 2 and 3, so expect more of these pictures sooner rather than later.

2. According to our pal Dan Duggan, Devin McCourty was back in New Jersey over the weekend to watch the Rutgers spring game, and it’s clear that he continues to have a major impact on the Scarlet Knights. Some current Rutgers defensive backs talked about the impact that McCourty, as well as several other former Rutgers guys who play for the Patriots

“When I really started getting deep into my recruiting process and really starting to narrow down where I want to go, I started paying attention to what position I wanted to play and I started realizing Rutgers put a lot of defensive guys in the league, especially in the secondary,” current Rutgers DB Nadir Barnwell. “I definitely want to go to the next level, so this is definitely a good place to be. They’ll definitely take my game to the next level.”

“I still don’t get why they don’t get some of the best defensive backs every year, just if you watch what they’ve been able to do and what guys have done throughout the league,” McCourty said. “We definitely take pride in it. We have a lot of guys that play in the secondary in the NFL and hopefully it continues.”

3. More pre-draft receiver buzz around the Patriots: South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington has drawn interest from multiple teams around the league — according to Mike Garafalo of Fox Sports, that includes New England. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, he’s already had a workout with the Patriots. The 5-foot-9, 196-pounder had 49 catches for 775 yards and eight touchdowns last season with the Gamecocks. Ellington, who also started as a point guard with the USC basketball team, projects as a slot receiver with great speed at the next level. (He’s also the cousin of Cardinals running back Andre Ellington.) Here’s some video on him:

In addition, the Patriots have already had a follow-up visit with University of Washington wide receiver Kevin Smith. The 5-foot-11, 214-pound Smith, who suffered a torn ACL in December 2011, became a huge part of the UW offense last season,, finishing with 50 catches for 765 yards and four touchdowns. Known for his sure hands and positive locker room influence, Smith is a former high school basketball standout who also has special teams value as a kick returner.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Kyle Van Noy (AP)

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who had 70 tackles in 2013, never missed a game in his four seasons at BYU. (AP)

KYLE VAN NOY

Position: Outside linebacker

School: BYU

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 245 pounds

Achievements: 2013, 2012 third-team All-American, 2012, 2012, 2011 first-team All-Independent, 2012 Poinsettia Bowl Defensive MVP

What he brings: Scouts consider Van Noy one of the most pro-ready prospects in the NFL draft. A well-built frame, excellent instincts, consistency and a knack to make plays make Van Noy an exciting prospect and one of the top outside linebacker prospects. There are concerns about Van Noy’€™s average athleticism, and some scouts consider his coverage skills average to below average.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Van Noy, who never missed a game at BYU, had a career-high 70 tackles in 2013 but saw his sack numbers dip, recording four sacks in 2013 compared to 13 in 2012. … In his four seasons Van Noy played in four bowl games: the 2010 New Mexico Bowl, the 2011 Armed Forces Bowl, the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl and the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl. BYU went 3-1 in those games, losing the Fight Hunger Bowl. … In 2009 Van Noy was charged with a DUI. He sat out that year for violating BYU’€™s honor code.

Related articles:

Desert News: Dick Harmon: Kyle Van Noy becomes the latest superstar to join BYU’s club of legends

CBSSports: Living up to honor code as important as football to BYU’s Van Noy

Video: Here are Van Noy’€™s 2013 highlights against Utah State.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Jason Verrett (AP)

Jason Verrett performed well at the NFL combine before having surgery on his shoulder. (AP)

JASON VERRETT

Position: Cornerback

School: TCU

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 189 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-American (Walter Camp, Fox Sports), second-team All-American (Associated Press, SI.com, FWAA, USA Today), co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year (coaches), ranked by ESPN.com as the top player in the Big 12, Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist, Lott IMPACT Trophy quarterfinalist

What he brings: Analysts agree that Verrett has strong instincts and quick reaction skills that help with his ball skills. They do point out, though, that his frame is smaller than the typical player at his position.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-3

Notes: Due to academic struggles, Verrett started out his college career at Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College. He earned a starting position as soon as he arrived at TCU, eventually earning first-team All-American honors from SI.com during his junior season. … Verrett had surgery in late March after he suffered a torn labrum at the beginning of the 2013 season.

Related articles:

CBSSports.com: 2014 NFL combine: Five takeaways from Sunday

Dallas News: Breakdown: TCU CB Jason Verrett’s combine performance

NFL.com: Justin Gilbert, Jason Verrett stand out on combine’s final day

Video: Here’s a video highlighting Verrett’s career at TCU.

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri
Veteran Will Smith could still join the Patriots. (AP)

Veteran Will Smith could still join the Patriots. (AP)

1. Roughly one month into free agency, the Patriots are still reportedly in the mix for veteran defensive end Will Smith. Cut loose in the great New Orleans salary purge of 2014, the 32-year-old veteran isn’€™t the overwhelming defensive presence he used to be — he’€™s coming off a torn ACL that sidelined him for the bulk of the 2013 season. But with 67.5 career sacks, he still has an impressive resume, and if he’€™s healthy, he could be the latest in a long line of veteran defensive linemen who have found their way to Foxboro at the end of their careers in hopes of finding some gold at the end of the rainbow. Over the last decade-plus, the Patriots have made an offseason habit of identifying a veteran defensive linemen and hoping to squeeze another year or two out them at the end of their careers. In the past, that’€™s a group that’€™s included Keith Traylor, Ted Washington and Anthony Pleasant. Over the last five years, Tommy Kelly (2013), Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Mark Anderson and Shaun Ellis (2011), Gerard Warren (2010) and Derrick Burgess (2009) have all been veteran additions to the defensive line. As for Smith, he presents himself as an intriguing prospect for New England on a number of levels, including the fact that he passes the Rosevelt Colvin test — Bill Belichick has been effusive of his praise of Smith in the past with relatively no provocation. “€œI think Will Smith could fit any defense,”€ Belichick said of Smith in 2009 when asked about what he thought about Smith coming out of college. “€œI can’€™t imagine there being a defense that he wouldn’€™t be able to help. He’€™s certainly a guy that we had a lot of interest in. (He’€™s) a big guy that can run, rush the passer, pursue well, strong play at the point of attack, athletic, plays on his feet. He’€™s got a good group of skills. (He) plays hard. He’€™s been productive. I think he’€™s been about the player, where he was drafted, and what people thought he would be, including us.”

2. By this time last offseason, tight end Rob Gronkowski had undergone three surgeries on his left forearm in the span of five months — two in the immediate aftermath of breaks in November and January and another to clear up an infection that had developed in the wake of the surgery. (Eventually, he would undergo another surgery in May on the arm, as well as a procedure on his back in the spring.) However, this offseason had been much better for the big fella — there’€™s only been rehab from one injury, a season-ending knee injury he suffered in a Week 14 win against the Browns. That surgery took place Jan. 9, and while we’€™ve heard from Gronk (and seen him) occasionally over the course of the offseason, our pal Albert Breer of NFL Media reported Friday that Gronkowski is ‘€œright where he should be’€ when it comes to his rehab, which means he’€™ll start running soon. It remains to be seen where that would put him when it comes to a timetable for a return to action, but would almost certainly rule him out when it comes to the offseason conditioning program this spring.

3. With the release of the 2014 NFL preseason schedule this past week, several folks asked about the state of the 2014 regular season schedule. While some notable info has already been unveiled — the defending champion Seahawks will open at home on Sept. 4, while the dates and teams for the three International games have also been revealed — there is no firm date yet for the announcement of the regular-season slate. By way of comparison, here’€™s a look at the dates of the schedule announcements for the last four years.

2013: Thursday, April 18
2012: Tuesday, April 17
2011: Tuesday, April 19
2010: Tuesday, April 20

One thing that could ultimately push the schedule release back is the fact that the league has always been mindful of doling out offseason news on a steady basis, and with the fact that the draft has been pushed back from mid April to early May this year, the league could be interested in drawing out the news cycle just so to keep the steady stream flowing from the league offices. From this viewpoint, our guess is that we’€™ll see it released some time in the next two weeks — either April 22 or April 24, or April 29 or May 1.

4. There are several teams in this year’€™s draft that have a colossal decision to make when it comes to whether or not they should take a chance on one of the several quarterbacks who will be available, and it’€™s not a stretch to say that the success of the franchise for the next decade can depend on which signal caller a team settles on. The correlation between successful, steady and consistent quarterback play and the success of a franchise is an easy one to make, but it was really hammered home this week when a graphic popped up on Reddit that showed the total number of starting quarterbacks each team had since 1999 through last year. The Patriots topped the list with three different starters (Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady, Matt Cassel), while the Colts, Giants and Packers were all second with five different starters. In addition, the Chargers (seven) and Steelers and Saints (eight each) rounded out the list of the top seven teams. That group accounts for seven of the 15 Super Bowl titles in that stretch. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, the bottom five teams were the Vikings (16), Raiders and Bears (17), Dolphins (18) and Browns (20). Among that group, there are exactly 13 playoff wins between them since 1999, with Minnesota and Oakland accounting for four each.

5. While the Patriots could end up picking up a Florida product or two in this year’€™s draft (defensive lineman Dominique Easley is a name that has come up time and again when it comes to potential Patriots), at least for now, they have moved on from the Gainesville-to-Foxboro pipeline. However, it’€™s clear the relationship between Belichick and former Florida coach Urban Meyer still resonates. Meyer, who is set to enter his third year in charge at Ohio State, was profiled this week by SI.com, and passed on a few things in relation to Belichick and his coaching style we found interesting. First, Meyer references “€œThe Process,”€ a behavioral culture passed down from Belichick to friends Meyer and Nick Saban. In addition, Meyer references a quote from Belichick when it comes to the practical nature of defense. “€œMeyer worries his coaches committed too many resources to stopping the run and not enough to stopping the pass,”€ writes Andy Staples of SI.com. “€œMeyer recalled a conversation with New England Patriots coach Belichick in which Belichick said he was willing to give up a little in the run game if it meant being more sound in the pass game.”€ Later, Meyer provides some of Belichick’€™s insight when it comes to hiring coaches, specifically as it relates to Meyer’€™s decision to hire Chris Ash away from Arkansas to coordinate the Buckeyes’€™ pass defense. “To hire Ash — who worked for Bret Bielema at Wisconsin and Arkansas — Meyer had to extend a branch into another coaching tree. In his early years as a head coach, Meyer tried to hire mostly coaches who, like him, had come from the Lou Holtz, Bob Davie or Earle Bruce trees. This is another trait Meyer picked up from Belichick. ‘€˜When coaches leave, you don’€™t want to adapt to their culture,’€™ Meyer said. ‘€˜They have to adapt to yours. That’€™s why (Belichick) is very particular about who he invites into the family.’€™ ”

6. Roughly one month into free agency, of their own 12 free agents, the Patriots have retained four and lost five, while three remain on the market. Wide receiver Austin Collie, tackle Will Svitek and defensive end Andre Carter are the three free agents who ended 2013 with the Patriots, but have yet to find a landing spot for the upcoming season. Collie reportedly had a tryout with the Redskins this past week, but now, with the draft now three weeks away, the trio (as well as the rest of the mid-level veteran free agents on the market) could be in limbo between now and the start of OTA’€™s as teams will likely want to see who could be available in the draft (as well as possible undrafted free agents). Then, with the draft done, they’€™d be able to address their remaining needs with some of the available veteran free agents. For what it’€™s worth, all three certainly have value in New England. Collie didn’€™t play a lot of snaps, but was on the field in key moments during the season (including the majority of the game-winning drive against the Saints) and won Brady’€™s trust. Meanwhile, Svitek played significant snaps as a backup swing tackle, while Carter was a durable and steady backup at defensive end after returning roughly midway through the 2013 season. (Some of Carter’€™s future in Foxboro could be tied to what happens with Smith, but that’€™s a story for another day.)

7. While the Patriots aren’€™t officially set to start their 2014 offseason workout program until April 21, after speaking with defensive end Rob Ninkovich this week, it’€™s clear that a sizable portion of players are already in the area working out, either on their own or at the stadium. According to sources, Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty and Chandler Jones have been fairly regular visitors to the stadium in recent weeks, while others have been working out in the area. “It’€™s great to say hello to your buddies and hang out a little bit and enjoy your time together,”€ Ninkovich said. “Once the season is over, guys spread out, go their separate ways. It’€™s nice to see everybody back.”€ All of the players who went on season-ending IR in 2013 will bear close scrutiny as the offseason work truly begins, but it was interesting to hear Ninkovich almost offhandedly talk about the progress made by Mayo (who went down with a season-ending pectoral injury just six games into the 2013 season), saying Mayo is ‘€œa pretty explosive guy, so I try to keep up with (him). He’€™s looking good right now. I’€™ve been training with him for a long time, and it’€™s always good to have somebody to push you and make you better than what you are.’€ While the defensive additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner will certainly have an impact on the roster in 2014, a healthy Mayo would certainly go a long way toward improvements across the board in the upcoming season.

8. One guy who is working out on his own back in his home state of Pennsylvania is James Develin. The veteran fullback made his bones this past season as an important part of the New England offense — according to Pro Football Focus, he played 373 offensive snaps in 2013, and in many ways, became one of the symbols of the Patriots’€™ physical ground attack. (His touchdown run against the Texans was something that would have brought tears to the eyes of the likes of Larry Csonka.) But despite his successes, Develin is cognizant of the fact that 2014 will bring a new set of challenges, and for that, he says he’€™s ready. He’€™s been working out at the Lightning Fast Sports Performance Center in Spring City, Pa., with Johnny Carlisle putting him through routines that last upwards of two hours. “I can’€™t really rest on any laurels that I accrued from last year,”€ Develin said. “I just have to pretty much start over, and make a name for myself again. I have to try and grow, every single day.”€ For more on Develin’€™s offseason, check out this story from Sam Stewart. And check out the impressive video package of Develin in the weight room:

9. It was revealed this week that Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has begun working out with quarterbacking guru Tom House. House has worked with several noted signal-callers over the years, including Brady after the passing of the New England quarterbacks’€™ own guru Tom Martinez a few years ago. Brady swears by him — last spring, praised the ‘€œvery scientific approach’€ House has when breaking down quarterbacking play, and was seen working with Brady and the rest of the New England signal callers during camp in the summer of in 2012. Dalton ventured west to work out with house in March, and it sounds like both sides came away happy with the results. “He’€™s bright, he gets it, he’€™s motivated,”€ House said of Dalton. “I see the same thing with elite athletes. We were work with golfers and they have the same characteristics. The way they handle failure, the way they handle adversity, they have a tendency to look at adversity in a positive way.”€ Entering a contract year — and coming off three consecutive playoff losses as a starter — it’€™s a key stretch for Dalton, who needs to get a postseason win under his belt if he wants to be able to move to the next level. “We tweaked a few things just to make sure all of your momentum, all your force, everything you have is going toward the target of where you’€™re trying to throw,”€ Dalton said. “€œWe tweaked it a little bit. It happens so quickly, I don’€™t think the average person will notice it.” (For what it’€™s worth, this week marked a huge milestone in House’€™s career. The former Braves reliever was the guy who caught Hank Aaron‘€™s 715th home run, a shot that landed in the Atlanta bullpen.) We’€™ll see if the results are visible come September.

10. Our last update on former Patriots wide receiver Chad Johnson noted that the Canadian Football League had been mildly interested in his services, but it appeared to be something of a long shot at the time. Now, it looks like it’€™s becoming closer to reality. The Montreal Alouettes, who put Johnson on their “negotiation list”€ earlier this winter, are scheduled to work out Johnson at a minicamp Tuesday in Vero Beach, Fla. “We do expect to meet with Chad Johnson and work him out in Vero Beach, FL this week,”€ Alouettes GM Jim Popp said in a statement. “€œTalks did take place and have escalated over the last week.” Remarkably, the now 36-year-old Johnson hasn’€™t played in a professional football game since he suited up for New England against the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. He had a brief stint in camp the Dolphins in 2012, but was cut following a domestic assault case that involved his former wife. Over the course of his career, The Artist Formerly Known As Ochocinco has caught 766 passes for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Charles Sims (AP)

Charles Sims rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his lone season at West Virginia after transferring from Houston. (AP)

CHARLES SIMS

Position: Running back

School: West Virginia

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 214 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-Big 12, 2013 Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year, 2012 second-team All-C-USA, 2011 first-team All-C-USA, 2009 C-USA Freshman of the Year

What he brings: The 23-year-old is a strong, quick back with good burst, great vision and excellent catching abilities. Sims is a weapon who can make defenders miss with a mix of power and agility. Analysts note that Sims struggles with ball security and fails to get lower to the ground at times, running too tall, making him easier to tackle.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: Sims started his collegiate career at Houston, playing there from 2009-12 before transferring to West Virginia. … During his senior season at West Virginia, he ran for 1,095 yards on 208 carries for a 5.3 average, scoring 11 touchdowns. He added 45 catches for 401 yards and three receiving touchdowns. … At the NFL combine, Sims ran a 4.48 40-yard dash.

Related articles:

Alabama.com: West Virginia’s Charles Sims gets top rating of running backs at Senior Bowl

NFL.com: Charles Sims of West Virginia might surprise people in NFL

Video: Here are Sims’ 2013 highlights with West Virginia.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Taylor Lewan (AP)

Michigan All-American Taylor Lewan did not start playing on the offensive line until his senior year of high school. (AP)

TAYLOR LEWAN

Position: Offensive tackle

School: Michigan

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 315 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-American (Sporting News), 2013 second-team All-American (Walter Camp, Associated Press, CBS Sports, SI.com), 2013, 2012 Big Ten Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year, 2013, 2012 All-Big Ten first team (coaches, media), 2013 semifinalist for Rotary Lombardi Award, 2012 first-team All-American (Walter camp, AP, ESPN.com, SI.com)

What he brings: Lewan has the size and quick feet to find success in the NFL, but he only became an offensive lineman during his senior year of high school so he is a late switch to the position. Analysts note that he sometimes struggles with technique and reacting to plays.

Where the Patriots could get him: Lewan is projected as a top-15 pick, so the Patriots likely would need to trade up to get him.

Notes: Lewan redshirted his freshman year and was named a CollegeFootballNews.com second-team freshman All-America during his first season playing for Michigan in 2010. … On Sept. 15, 2012, he became the first Michigan offensive lineman to score a touchdown since 1948. … According to Deadspin, … as a freshman Lewan threatened a woman who allegedly was sexually assaulted by Lewan’€™s freshman roommate, Brendan Gibbons.

Related articles:

NFL.com: Taylor Lewan, Seantrel Henderson seek more momentum at combine

Detroit Free Press: Mel Kiper: Wolverines’ Taylor Lewan could be No. 2 overall pick in NFL draft

Video: Here is a video of Lewan playing left tackle during Michigan’s game against Michigan State.

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Davante Adams (AP)

Davante Adams (right) set a Fresno State record with 233 career receptions in just two seasons. (AP)

DAVANTE ADAMS

Position: Wide receiver

School: Fresno State

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 212 pounds

Achievements: 2013, 2012 All-American, 2013 Paul Warfield Award, 2012 Mountain West Freshman of the Year, two-time first-team All-Mountain West

What he brings: Adams has good hand-eye coordination as well as leaping ability, allowing him to make grabs in challenging situations. His production may have been inflated by Fresno State’€™s offense and the team’€™s quarterback, Derek Carr.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Adams caught a touchdown pass in 22 of the 26 games he played during his Fresno State career. He led the FBS with 131 catches as a sophomore during the 2013 season and finished the season with 1,719 yards, second in the nation. Adams, who redshirted his freshman year, set a Fresno State record with 233 career receptions. … The 21-year-old had the third-best vertical jump of wide receivers at the combine, reaching a height of 39.5 inches, but struggled in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.56 seconds. He improved his 40-yard dash, shaving .09 seconds off his time, during his pro day.

Related articles:

49ers.com: Fresno State WR Davante Adams ‘ready to play’

Fresno Bee: Warszawski: Fresno State’s Davante Adams works with track legend for NFL combine speed

USA Today: Fresno State WR Davante Adams to enter NFL draft

Video: Here is a video highlighting Adams’ career at Fresno State.

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Loucheiz Purifoy (AP)

Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy (with ball) shows promise but lacks consistency and did not impress at the NFL combine. (AP)

LOUCHEIZ PURIFOY

Position: Cornerback

School: Florida

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 190 pounds

Achievements: 2013 All-SEC second team

What he brings: Purifoy is a frustrating player for scouts to study as he flashes elite ability where he can make plays and cover the field but also flashes poor ability where he appear slow and lost and fails to tackle well. Bottom line is Purifoy is an inconsistent player who needs to get better at tackling. He’€™s a bigger cornerback, which will help him at the NFL level, but he needs to find some consistency as he was lackluster at the NFL combine, running a 4.61 40-yard dash and benching 225 pounds six times.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: In 2013 Purifoy had two interceptions, 24 tackles and two sacks. In 2012 he blocked two field goals and forced three fumbles on special teams. Purifoy recorded 22 tackles on special teams in 2011, a team high. … Purifoy was suspended for the first game by the Gators after he was arrested in February 2013 for a misdemeanor possession of marijuana. … During the 2013 Florida spring practices, Purifoy was tried out at wide receiver. In 2012, he recorded one catch for five yards and a rush for eight yards.

Related articles:

ESPN: Loucheiz Purifoy arrested for pot

ESPN: Catching on

Gator Zone: Purifoy’s Drive and toughness are homegrown

Video: Here are highlights of Purifoy against Kentucky in 2013.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron met with the Patriots Wednesday. (AP)

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron met with the Patriots Wednesday. (AP)

Another day, another series of prospect workouts for the Patriots:

1. Several outlets reported that Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron met with the Patriots on Wednesday. On the heels of the news that New England has reached out to Zach Mettenberger, McCarron is likely another quarterback who could be had somewhere after the first round — perhaps on Day 2. (For what it’s worth, at this point the Patriots’ second day picks are at No. 62 and No. 93.)

The Crimson Tide product didn’t post overwhelming stats as a collegian — 9,019 passing yards, 77 touchdowns and 15 picks — but has a pair of national championships on his resume, as well as the fact that he quarterbacked a team coached by one of Bill Belichick‘s most trusted former colleagues in Nick Saban.

Speaking at the combine in February, McCarron was open in his level of respect for the Patriots, Belichick and Tom Brady. He called New England “the Alabama of pro football,” and was asked if he patterned his game after anyone in the league.

“When it comes to similarities, from body build, to how we were talked about coming out of college, I think Tom Brady,”€ McCarron said, who has spoken with Brady in the past. “I think we play the game the same way. He still moves in the pocket pretty well to get away from blitzes. Everyone doubted his arm strength coming out. It’€™s turned out pretty good so far.

“€œI love the Patriots organization,”€ McCarron said. “If I had the chance to go there and sit behind Brady for however long and learn from one of the best to ever play the game, that would be an awesome experience.”

2. The Patriots held a private workout with Illinois State defensive end Colton Underwood on Thursday, per a league source. The 6-foot-3 255-pounder played in 45 games as a collegian and finished with 215 tackles. He finished third in ISU history in career tackles-for-loss with 44 and No. 4 on the career sacks list with 21.5 after senior season. While he was a defensive end in college, his size and skill set suggest that he might be a good fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense at the next level, provided he can show an ability to drop into coverage. To that end, he’s dropped 15 pounds since the end of the season in an attempt to make the switch. (One intriguing part to his game that could also help him at the next level is the fact that he showed some ability as a fullback in some of his pre-draft workouts, and that sort of versatility is always welcome in Foxboro.) For more on Underwood, check out this piece on him here.

3. The Patriots also worked out center Weston Richburg out of Colorado State on Thursday, per Tony Pauline. Richburg, who was reportedly put through his paces by New England offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, is a 6-foot-3, 298-pounder who has manned the middle of the Rams offensive line for the better part of the last four years. (He started in 50 consecutive games over the course of four years ‘€” a school record.) He was a Mountain West first teamer last season, and considered one of the best centers in the draft. For more on his performance, check out our profile of him here.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots announced Thursday that Dr. Thomas Gill will “end his tenure as medical director with the team” because he’s stepping down as the chief of sports medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Sports Medicine to focus on his private practice.

According to the team, Dr. Matt Provencher will take over Gill’s role.

Here’s the complete statement from the team on the move.