The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine concluded Monday, bringing teams and players one step closer to the upcoming draft in April.
More than 300 prospects participated in the week-long event that is often remembered by its measurable athletic workouts. But in addition to the 40-yard dash and bench press, teams are given the opportunity to evaluate potential players through a 15-minute private conversation. Each organization is allotted 60 official interviews, though a number of informal chats also take place throughout the combine.
Here’s a look at some of players the Patriots reportedly met with:
Given that Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis are both scheduled to become free agents, the Patriots are scoping out running backs. At the combine, the team interviewed Fordham’s Chase Edmonds, NC State’s Nyheim Hines, Georgia’s Sony Michel, Iowa’s Akrum Wadley, Miami’s Mark Walton, and LSU’s Darrel Williams.
Edmonds posted the fastet three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle times of all the participating running backs, demonstrating his explosiveness and overall speed. After on-field workouts with his position group, the 5-foot-9 senior joined the wide receivers for some additional drills. He caught 86 passes for 905 yards and seven touchdowns over the course of his four years at Fordham.
Edmonds has drawn comparisons to Lewis and James White for their similar statures and versatility. Speaking to reporters at the combine, he praised the Patriots for using Lewis “perfectly.” Despite the favorable comparisons and his proven productivity (three seasons with 1,500-plus rushing yards), the Harrisburg native’s draft stock could fall due to a leg and ankle injury his senior year.
Hines is another speedy running back with pass-catching abilities. The NC State junior ran the fastest 40-yard dash time of all the participating running backs, beating out Penn State’s Saquon Barkley by .02 seconds. He is also a capable kick returner, averaging 24.7 yards on 88 returns during his three seasons at NC State.
At the combine, Hines told reporters his multi-faceted role has often been compared to how Patriots utilize their backs. The North Carolina native actually grew up a Pats fan because his father is from Connecticut.
“They are winners,” he said. “Who doesn’t like a winner?”
Michel is the most notable among the other players the Patriots met with because the well-built, effective runner is projected to be a first-round pick. New England has one first-round selection (31 overall) and two second-rounders (43 and 63).
With Nate Solder scheduled to become a free agent — and expected to receive offers of at least $12 million annually, according to the Boston Herald — the Patriots are also in the market for an offensive tackle. New England spoke with two potential replacements at the combine: Florida State’s Rick Leonard and UCLA’s Kolton Miller.
Miller has drawn comparisons to Solder for his frame and athletic ability. At the combine, the UCLA redshirt junior broke the broad jump record for his position group and also posted the third-fastest 40-yard dash time among participating offensive tackles in 2018.
Leonard has garnered less attention, but played four seasons under FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett. Trickett is close to Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, according to Mass Live’s Kevin Duffy.
ESPN’s Field Yates told Patriots.com’s Megan O’Brien he believes New England’s primary roster need is “some front-seven reinforcements” because teams can “never have enough playmakers up front [and] guys who can generate pressure against opposing quarterbacks.”
The Patriots met with seven potential additions: Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter, UCLA’s Matt Dickerson, Wake Forest’s Duke Ejiofor, Utah’s Kylie Fitts, Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand, and Ohio State’s Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard.
Ohio State football reporter Dan Hope reports Hubbard — who had the fastest three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle times among defensive lineman — has been talking to his former teammate, Patriots scouting assistant Camren Williams, every day at the combine. The Ohio State junior originally planned on attending Notre Dame on a lacrosse scholarship, but switched gears after Urban Meyer arrived at his high school for a recruiting trip. He is projected to be a first-round pick.
The Patriots met with one kicker, Nebraska’s Drew Brown, who did not have any results for the physical drills. Over the course of his four years at Nebraska, he made 77.6 percent of his attempted field goals.
The Patriots met with two talented safeties, Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison and Stanford’s Justin Reid, who are both projected to be first- or second-round picks. Harrison — who played under Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s longtime friend and former colleague Nick Saban — has been buzzing as a possible choice for one of the team’s early selections.
Rob Gronkowski’s future in the NFL is still uncertain, but the Patriots didn’t flock to tight ends at the combine. The team had an informal meeting with Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews, who would add some depth to the position — taking into consideration Gronkowski’s injury history, Dwayne Allen’s disappointing season, and Martellus Bennett’s physical health.
Andrews was Baker Mayfield’s top target last season, recording a team-high 62 receptions for 958 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Patriots’ rather talented receiving core, featuring Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, and Chris Hogan, could potentially lose a key member in Amendola when the 32-year-old enters free agency. The team formally interviewed SMU’s Trey Quinn, but also met with Texas Tech’s KeKe Coutee and Middle Tennessee State’s Richie James at the combine.
Dallas Cowboys reporter David Helman said Quinn’s meeting with the Patriots was the “least surprising news” he heard while in Indianapolis. The SMU junior played two seasons at LSU, before transferring to SMU for a breakout season. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds.