INDIANAPOLIS — The New England Patriots are showing interest in some of the top-rated wide receiver prospects ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Patriots met with several of highly regarded wideouts at the NFL Scouting Combine, including Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, who sat down for a formal interview with the team this week.
Some experts, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper, consider Brown the best receiver available in this year’s class, though surgery he recently underwent to repair a Lisfranc injury in his foot could cause him to slide on draft night.
Brown, a cousin of Pittsburgh Steelers star Antonio Brown, is coming off a wildly productive senior season, catching 75 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns for a Sooners team that lost to Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
I At just 5-foot-9, 166 pounds, Brown is one of the smallest players at the combine, but he boasts terrific speed and can play both outside and in the slot. Evaluators have compared him to Tampa Bay Buccaneers burner DeSean Jackson.
“I can play outside, take a comeback, and take it to the house,” Brown, who’s projected as a late first-round pick, said Friday. “I can go inside, take an out, take it to the house. I feel that I can play both pretty well.”
He added: “(My strengths are) my speed, playmaking ability, my dynamic ability and explosiveness. I need to get stronger, and I’ll continue to get stronger. I’ve been taking the weight room seriously since I got to college, and that’s something I’ll continue to work on.”
Brown, nicknamed “Hollywood,” wore a walking boot as he addressed reporters. He will not participate in combine drills but is expected to be ready in time for training camp, according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
With Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson all set to hit free agency next month and Julian Edelman turning 33 in May, wide receiver is one of the Patriots’ greatest needs this offseason. The list of wideouts they’ve met with either at the combine or previously at the Senior Bowl also includes Georgia’s Riley Ridley, South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel, Ohio State’s Terry McLaurin, Nebraska’s Stanley Morgan, Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow and UMass’ Andy Isabella, among others.
New England currently owns 12 picks in this year’s draft, including the 32nd overall selection and six picks in the first three rounds. The earliest the Patriots have drafted a receiver during the Bill Belichick era is 36th overall (Chad Jackson, 2006), and they haven’t selected one in the top 100 picks since nabbing Aaron Dobson at No. 59 in 2012.
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