The Patriots selected space-eating nose tackle Malcom Brown out of Texas. (Getty Images)

The Patriots selected space-eating nose tackle Malcom Brown out of Texas. (Getty Images)

We’ve always tried to find clues as to the level of interest the Patriots have in a player throughout the pre-draft process. Whether it’s through private workouts at Gillette, time together at the combine or a conversation at a pro day, those events can provide some idea as to how interested New England can be in a prospect. (And sometimes, frankly, it’s all a meaningless smokescreen.) With that in mind, here’s a look at the pre-draft contact the Patriots had with some of their 2015 draft class. (By way of comparison, here’s a look at the pre-draft connections New England made with some of their top picks over the last few years.)

First-round pick Malcom Brown said his pre-draft connection with the Patriots was “the same” as it was with many other teams. “I didn’t really get a lot of contact with many teams,” he said. “That’s the hardest part about this whole process — you never can get a real feel for who likes you or who is thinking about drafting you. That’s the hardest part.”

Second-round selection Jordan Richards on his pre-draft contact with New England: “I mean, it’s a long process, so you’re trying to market yourself to all the teams, and you don’t really know how much of an impact or an impression you make on any of them in particular. But throughout the whole time I just tried to put my best foot forward and be who I am. And obviously, the Patriots saw some interest in that — and I’m juiced for the opportunity and can’t wait to go.”

Oklahoma defensive end Geneo Grissom, who was taken in the third round on Friday, connected with the Patriots on a number of levels. “I had a private workout with them and also went to Foxboro and saw the facilities and met Coach Belichick and the rest of the staff,” he said. “It was awesome. I had a great time. We talked some ball and I got to meet the coaches. I feel like — well, obviously — I made an impression. And I feel like we had a good vibe when I left.”

Florida State offensive lineman Tre Jackson, who was taken in the fourth round, worked with former offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia at his pro day, and took a visit to Gillette Stadium: “It was a great experience, just being able to see (Gillette Stadium)  and things like that. Walking through the facilities and talking with the coaches was a great experience.”

Sixth-round pick A.J. Derby, a tight end out of Arkansas, visited Gillette StadiumBill Belichick joked that during their meeting, the coach reminisced about working with Derby’s father John when he was in camp with the Browns in the early 1990s.

Seventh-round selection Xzavier Dickson said he “had a workout and a visit” with the Patriots prior to the draft — the linebacker, who played for Belichick’s pal Nick Saban at Alabama, acknowledged he connected with New England coaches in Foxboro and at Alabama’s pro day.

Cornerback Darryl Roberts — a seventh-round pick out of Marshall — said Saturday he had a workout with the Patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Even though he retired after the 2013 season, Dante Scarnecchia played a big role in helping the Patriots prepare for the 2015 draft. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Even though he retired after the 2013 season, Dante Scarnecchia played a big role in helping the Patriots prepare for the 2015 draft. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Over the course of the spring, former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia popped up along the way at several pro days, working out prospects at Florida State, South Carolina and Duke.

Shortly after the draft concluded, Patriots coach Bill Belichick talked about Scarnecchia’s unique level of involvement in the run-up to this year’s draft — as the Patriots played all the way into February and the coaching staff had its attention elsewhere (or on other matters through March and April), the trusted Scarnecchia was able to serve as an extra set of eyes through some key dates in the pre-draft process.

“Given the way our season went this year — the length of it and the offseason schedule and so forth — he was able to help us out and go do a few things for us in the draft process that were very helpful,” Belichick said of Scarnecchia, who retired shortly after the 2013 season.

“He did a great job. He obviously has a lot of experience with our system, a lot of experience with players that are on our roster for comparison sake, players that we’ve drafted or evaluated in the past. So we kind of asked him to help us out in a situation where we were kind of, I’d say a little bit from a personnel standpoint, a little bit behind the curve there. He was available and he did a great job.”

You could certainly argue that Scarnecchia input had something to do with the selection of Florida State offensive lineman Tre Jackson in the fourth round — Scarnecchia was present at FSU’s pro day, and he maintains a deep and abiding friendship with Seminoles offensive line coach Rick Trickett.

Shortly after he was selected, Jackson talked about the chance to work with Scarnecchia at his pro day.

“Well, he just came down for practices and things like that — to watch practices,” Jackson said of Scarnecchia. “He’s a great coach; he was a great coach. Just being able to get advice from him was a great opportunity.

“He was telling me to continue to work hard and that the coach that I had in Coach Trickett was a great coach. Coach Trickett was coaching the techniques and stuff that he was coaching. (Just) continue to believe and trust in the techniques, take them to the field and continue to work hard.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

It was a busy weekend, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that former Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (it still sounds strange writing that) was honored by the New England Institute of Technology at their 75th commencement ceremony Sunday. He was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, and spoke to the graduates.

“We all have new chapters in our life that we’re going to have to attack,” said Wilfork. “I’m in Houston now, but you know what? I’m a Patriot and I’m always gonna be a Patriot, no matter how you slice it.”

Check out a picture below from Wilfork’s Twitter page for more from the event.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price wrap up how the Patriots fared in the 2015 NFL draft and what they accomplished.

[0:01:41] ... that injury we talked about this last night sixteenth consecutive draft for Bill Belichick. Where he did not draft and interior offensive lineman. Got to this time around than the three the draft at least one ...
[0:02:58] ... in the week you wrote about this it was perhaps the most Bill Belichick in. Pick up the hill of the appellate check era. A long snapper. Out of the naval academy in Joseph Cardona there's ...
[0:04:19] ... in terms of an interest in at least teaching at the naval high school academy the purport preparatory school. In Newport, Rhode Island. Within eye obviously on trying to stay close by stay at least close ...
[0:04:51] ... know frankly from bodily perspective this is a this is the best Bill Belichick thinkable armies works never. You know from eastern Maryland went to maybe you'll Belichick's got the naval connections this is me be viewed least surprising pick. And the entire 2015 draft knowing. On derby day Kentucky Derby day they take a derby. And I'm really fascinating story and I know you asked bill about this thing got a great ...






Auburn strong safety Brandon King tweeted over the weekend he was “humbled to be a part of the Patriots program,” which likely means he’€™s agreed to a deal with New England as a rookie or undrafted free agent

King is a 6-foot-2, 213-pounder who played in 13 games last year for Auburn, finishing the season with 12 tackles (nine solo). He’€™s moved around a bit, having played safety, defensive end and linebacker, and his measurables are pretty impressive, including a 4.49 40, to go along with a 38-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 10-foot-6.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Geneo Grissom was taken 97th overall by the Patriots. (Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Geneo Grissom was taken 97th overall by the Patriots. (Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was quick to praise new Patriots defensive end Geneo Grissom on Sunday, lauding the big play ability and versatility of the 6-foot-3, 353-pounder who starred for Stoops with the Sooners.

“We’ve seen Geneo make plenty of big plays for us, and he has the ability to do that at the next level,” Stoops said of Grissom, who was taken in the third round (97th overall) of the 2015 NFL draft by the Patriots on Saturday. “He’s got versatility and that huge wingspan allows him to work in space in addition to rushing the passer.”

Over the course of his collegiate career, he played in a variety of spots and have a variety of responsibilities (including a brief stint at tight end) but he managed to find success at almost every position. With the Sooners, he played in 39 games with 11 starts, and finished with 88 tackles (55 solo) with 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks and a pair of picks. His finest season came as a junior in 2013, when he had 40 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and one interception.

“(He’s) a player that has played a couple different spots, converted from tight end to linebacker or defensive end, whatever you want to call it,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick shortly after the pick was made over the weekend. “He played defensive end in ’13, played outside linebacker; he’s also played inside in some passing situations. [He’s a] pretty athletic, versatile guy in Oklahoma’s defense over the last couple of years.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

With the draft now firmly in the rear view mirror and undrafted free agents starting to find a home, the next big date on the NFL calendar is May 12. That’s the date when unrestricted free agent signings no longer count toward the compensatory draft-pick formula. As a result, look for a small flurry of teams to start adding veteran free agents midway through the month. Here’s a look at a handful of veterans who are still on the market as of Sunday night.

Quarterback: Michael Vick, Matt Flynn.
Wide receiver: Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne.
Running back: Ahmad Bradshaw, Pierre Thomas, Steven Jackson.
Tight end: Jermaine Gresham, Zach Miller.
Offensive line: Jake Long, Dan Connolly, Chris Myers, Justin Blalock.

Defensive line: Osi Umenyiora, Red Bryant, Kevin Williams.
Linebacker: Dwight Freeney, John Abraham, Colin McCarthy, Brandon Spikes, Lance Briggs.
Defensive back: Dawan Landry, Bernard Pollard.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

With the 11 draft picks over the weekend and the four reported UDFA signings, here’€™s a look at the Patriots roster at this moment. (Teams are allowed to carry 90 players at this time of the season.) This list does not include veteran offensive lineman Dan Connolly and long snapper Danny Aiken, both of whom still remain on the market as free agents. The personnel situation is always fluid at this time of the year, and so changes will likely happen again sooner rather than later.

OFFENSE — 41
Quarterback (3): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Garrett Gilbert.
Running back (8): Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, Travaris Cadet, Tyler Gaffney, Jonas Gray, James White, James Develin.
Wide receiver (12): Jonathan Krause, Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater, Kevin Dorsey, Brandon Gibson, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Brian Tyms, Devin Gardner, Chris Harper.
Tight end (5): Michael Hoomanwanui, Tim Wright, Scott Chandler, A.J. Derby, Rob Gronkowski.
Offensive line (13): Bryan Stork, Shaq Mason, Josh Kline, Chris Barker, Marcus Cannon, Jordan Devey, Cameron Fleming, Ryan Wendell, Tre Jackson, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Caylin Hauptmann, David Andrews.

DEFENSE — 45
Defensive line (15): Rufus Johnson, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard, Jake Bequette, Zach Moore, Rob Ninkovich, Michael Buchanan, Trey Flowers, Dominique Easley, Antonio Johnson, Chris Jones, Sealver Siliga, Malcom Brown, Joe Vellano. Alan Branch.
Linebacker (13): Jonathan Freeny, James Morris, Deontae Skinner, Matt Wells, Darius Fleming, Cameron Gordon, Chris White, Jerod Mayo, Xzavier Dickson, Eric Martin, Jamie Collins, Geneo Grissom, Dont’€™a Hightower.
Cornerback (9): Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain, Alfonzo Dennard, Darryl Roberts, Chimdi Chekwa, Johnny Jean.
Safety (8): Tavon Wilson, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards, Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty, Dax Swanson, Justin Green, Nate Ebner.

SPECIAL TEAMS — 4
Long snapper: Tyler Ott, Joe Cardona.
Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski.
Punter: Ryan Allen.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Bill Belichick is looking forward to welcoming another class of rookies to Foxboro. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Bill Belichick is looking forward to welcoming another class of rookies to Foxboro. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Bill Belchick wants his 11 drafted to enjoy the moment. He realizes this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to savor being drafted by the defending Super Bowl champion.

But he also wants them to get it out of their system by Thursday.

Come Thursday, when they report to Gillette Stadium, the Patriots coach expects everyone to get with the program, literally.

“The biggest challenge for all these players is to get on our program,” Belichick said after eight Saturday picks concluded New England’s three-day participation in the draft. “For the last six months, they’€™ve been a man without a country. They have no team, they have their own individual, whatever it is, situation, and they’€™re trying to figure out, ‘€˜How do I best get ready for the NFL?’€™ And that is all 32 teams or however many it is showing interest in them and trying to figure out, ‘€˜How do I prepare for that?’€™ Each guy has been an independent contractor; they’€™ve been on their own whatever it is: their own trainer, their own training system, their agent, whatever they’€™ve been doing. And right now, that’€™s all changed and they can forget about all that and they need to become New England Patriots.”

The Patriots rookies are about to get indoctrinated into Belichick boot camp.

“That’€™s what we’€™re going to start getting to work on. They’€™ve got to get out of that mentality of ‘€˜I’€™ll get up when I feel like it. I’€™ll go to work when I feel like it. I’€™ll eat where [I feel like it]. All that. I’€™ll train the way I want to train.’€™ They’€™re done with that. That will be a huge adjustment for them. I don’€™t care where they came from, I don’€™t care what position they play. None of that makes any difference. They haven’€™t been doing it and they’€™re going to start doing it and they’€™re going to start doing a lot of it. They’€™re going to be doing it for day after day after day for a long time going forward ‘€“ if they can, if they’€™re successful.

Belichick realizes it won’t be necessarily easy but is essential if these first-year players are to jump aboard the train that picks up steam quickly in Foxboro.

“That will be a big adjustment for them,” Belichick said. “It will be a big adjustment for every rookie because none of them have been doing that. Welcome to the NFL. That will start Thursday. They’€™ll get a big dose of New England Patriots football over the next whatever we’€™ve got, six weeks ‘€“ however long it is. We’€™ll give them everything we can in heavy doses, try to get them ready for training camp and they’€™ll get even more then. The strong will survive. The other ones will fall off. And we’€™ll keep going.”

So, the train doesn’€™t stop?

“Sure doesn’€™t. Sure doesn’€™t. We’€™ve got 31 other teams competing just as hard as we are to do the same things,” Belichick said. “Yeah, we’€™re going to have to outwork people, out-hustle them and just do a better job. That’€™s what our business is. Beats working though.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
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