BOSTON (CBS) — NFL Draft season is in full swing. Though the draft itself won’t take place for another month, personnel men around the country are putting in the hard work that’s required to build their draft boards.
Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick has been a fixture at a number of pro days in recent weeks. The Patriots’ head coach seems to cherish the opportunity to get on the field and see some of these prospects up close and personal, and he’s never hesitant to run a drill or two to get a feel for how certain players might pick up on certain tasks.
Bill’s been zooming all over the country, and it’s been difficult to keep track. So here’s a list of everyone Bill’s taken a close look at over the past few weeks.
Georgia Linebacker Roquan Smith
Roquan Smith is a projected first-round pick. He’s an undersized linebacker but has great speed. Belichick also got a close look at Georgia’s other linebackers: Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy and Reggie Carter.
NC State Defensive Linemen Bradley Chubb, B.J. Hill, Justin Jones, Kentavius Street
Bradley Chubb is probably going to be drafted at the top of the first round, and Belichick made it pretty clear that he doesn’t expect to get the chance to draft the 6-foot-4 game-changer. After Chubb told the coach that it was an honor to meet him, Belichick flatly said, “Yeah, we’re picking 31st. No chance we’ll see you.”
Belichick also took a close look at all of the defensive linemen participating in drills.
Ohio State’s Defensive Backs And Defensive Linemen
Bill was standing up close and personal as Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, Tyquan Lewis, Tracy Sprinkle and Michael Hill ran a drill at Ohio State, and he was giving hands-on instructions for a defensive backs drill along with Nick Caserio and Matt Patricia. Damon Webb, Erick Smith, Denzel Ward, Trevon Forte and Elijaah Goins were the participants in that drill.
South Carolina Tight End Hayden Hurst, Linebacker Skai Moore, Defensive Tackle Taylor Stallworth
Even if Rob Gronkowski plays in 2018 (which seems like it has a high likelihood), the Patriots could still use some tight ends on the roster. So Belichick’s interest in Hayden Hurst is noteworthy. As a junior, the 6-foot-5 Hurst caught 44 passes for 559 yards and two touchdowns. That was a worthy follow-up to his sophomore season, when he caught 48 passes for 616 yards and one touchdown.
Alabama Linebacker Rashaan Evans
Belichick obviously didn’t miss the opportunity to hang out with Nick Saban. Linebacker Rashaan Evans was one player Belichick reportedly watched. He’s a 6-foot-3, 234-pound linebacker who’s projected to be picked in the first round.
The Patriots have sent other scouts and coaches to several other pro days as well, because for all of Belichick’s powers, he can’t be in multiple places at once. But the head coach’s personal itinerary over the past few weeks might be an indication of which players the Patriots might be really targeting when it comes to pick in April’s draft.
Here’s a list of the picks owned by the Patriots in this year’s draft:
First Round, 31st overall
Second Round, 43rd overall (from San Francisco/Jimmy Garoppolo trade)
Second Round, 63rd overall
Third Round, 95th overall
Fourth Round, 136th overall (compensatory pick)
Sixth Round, 210th overall (compensatory pick from Oakland/Cordarrelle Patterson trade)
Seventh Round, 219th overall (from Cleveland/Jason McCourty trade)