The Patriots have several key free agents this off-season and there is a good chance they may lose a couple of them, most notably Trey Flowers and Trent Brown who could both command big money on the open market.
The combine will give Bill Belichick and his staff an opportunity to see some of the top talent in this upcoming draft workout and possibly fill some of the positions that will vacated by free agent defections.
Here five positions the Patriots will focus on at the combine.
1. Tight end: According to Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston, the Patriots have already met with five tight ends in Indianapolis. Noah Fant, Irv Smith Jr. Jace Sternberger, Kaden Smith and Issac Nauta have either met or will meet with the Patriots this weekend.
It is obvious that the Patriots are heavily scouting what is a deep tight end class.
2. Wide receiver: Julien Edelman is the only Patriots receiver under contract right now. The Patriots have expressed an interest in re-signing Chris Hogan, Cordarelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett but they must also look to add a young wide receiver who can step in, develop and produce. The receiver class in this year’s draft has some intriguing potential. There are several quality middle prospects in this class.
3. Defensive tackle: With Malcolm Brown and Danny Shelton both free agents, the Patriots must address the defensive line. The defensive tackle class in this draft is loaded. Clemson’s Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Albert Huggins and Western Illinois Khalen Sanders are all players Belichick and staff will watch closely this weekend.
4. Cornerback: Belichick always evaluates the cornerback position. He firmly believes in mixing and matching sub packages and personnel and in order to do that, you need to have at least five corners and a hybrid corner, safety on your roster. The Patriots have drafted 14 cornerbacks since 2000 and have signed countless other PFA’s including Malcolm Butler and J.C Jackson. It is always a position of emphasis for the Patriots.
5. Offensive tackle: Trent Brown’s unrestricted free agency makes this a position the Patriots will study closely. The Patriots drafted Isaiah Wynn with their first of two first round picks last year. Wynn could potentially slide outside when healthy but the Patriots will address the position this off-season, especially if Brown leaves via free agency.
6. Defensive end: If the Patriots lose Trey Flowers in free agency, the defensive end position will all of a sudden become a priority for the Patriots. Belichick and his staff will pay attention to the defensive ends on Sunday.