Notre Dame Defensive Lineman Stephon Tuitt To Visit Patriots On Thursday

The New England Patriots will host one of the NFL’s top defensive linemen prospects Thursday.

Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt came to Foxboro to visit the Patriots, the 6-foot-6, 304-pound lineman tweeted Wednesday night.

Tuitt mostly played defensive end with the Fighting Irish, but he projects at three-technique defensive tackle (in a 4-3 alignment) or five-technique defensive end (3-4). He had 12 sacks in 2012, then underwent hernia surgery, ballooned to 322 pounds and saw his sack totals go down to a still-respectable 7.5 in 2013.

Tuitt skipped NFL Scouting Combine workouts in February because he was red-flagged for a stress fracture in his foot. He held his own pro day before undergoing foot surgery and tweeted that he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds.

Tuitt’s play was inconsistent at Notre Dame, but he also was being asked to play out of position at defensive end in the Fighting Irish’s four-man fronts. His injury history could have some teams concerned, but he’s obviously a fantastic athlete, and his production might be even higher when he’s fully healthy.

Tuitt’s build is similar to Richard Seymour, and he has the same pass-rush upside. The Patriots likely would have to use their first-round pick to draft Tuitt.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is friends with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Kelly was spotted at a Patriots minicamp practice last summer.

Check out NESN.com’s latest 2014 NFL mock draft>>

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