With less than one month until the NFL draft, teams are starting to hunker down and get their boards set for the three-day spectacle. The postseason all-star games and draft combine are all in the books, and now it's time for teams to get their last looks at prospects with in-house visits and personal workouts.
Each team is granted 30 in-house visits by the league, and according to The Boston Globe, the Patriots already have a couple lined up.
TCU pass rusher Jerry Hughes will visit Gillette Stadium on Monday, while Wednesday will bring Tennessee halfback Montario Hardesty to Foxboro. Hughes is rated as a fringe first-round selection, while Hardesty will likely have to wait until the second or third round to hear his name called.
While inviting the prospects to tour the facilities, get a physical, interview and maybe go over some X's and O's shows some degree of interest on the team's behalf, it does not always suggest an intent to draft them them.
Sometimes the visits are just to check on a guy's medical record — hence the importance of the physicals — or to tie up some loose end that needed answering before he could be slotted on the draft board. Other times, they are not great indicators, as a team could be using it as a smokescreen to throw off any other potential suitors.
To get a much better sense of which players a team is looking at, you can generally go by who they visit for individual workouts. On that front, the Patriots are reportedly interested in a pair of USC pass catchers: wide receiver Damien Williams and tight end Anthony McCoy. According to the Boston Herald, the Patriots met with Williams last week and will pay extra close attention to McCoy at USC's pro day on Wednesday. Defensive end Everson Griffen, safety Taylor Mays and offensive tackle Charles Brown could also generate some interest from New England's decision makers.
All of the prospects in whom the Pats are showing interest are likely to be drafted no later than Round 2 or 3, but New England has several picks with which to play. In addition to their own picks in the first two rounds, the Patriots hold both Jacksonville's and Tennessee's second-rounders — part of the 12 total selections the franchise has this year.