The same story that relayed the New England Patriots have “a ton of interest” in West Virginia quarterback Will Grier also included two other Patriots-related draft nuggets.
Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst reported Monday that New England hosted Charlotte offensive lineman Nate Davis for an official pre-draft visit and that the Patriots are among the teams most interested in BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki.
Davis stands 6-foot-3, 316 pounds and played both guard and tackle in college. He projects as the former at the NFL level and is likely to hear his name called on Day 2 or early in Day 3.
“Davis carries good power and outstanding foot quickness on a stout frame and has proven to be consistent and effective in a variety of blocking schemes,” Lance Zierlein wrote in Davis’ NFL.com draft profile. “His footwork and body control help him square his targets into his power zone, but a lack of arm length creates some inconsistencies in sustaining blocks. He has some flaws, but there doesn’t appear to be glaring holes to overcome his areas of strength and become a starting guard early in his career.”
The Patriots’ interior O-line is set for the time being, but left guard Joe Thuney is entering the final year of his rookie contract and could be in line for a substantial payday after a strong 2018 season.
Linebacker also is not an immediate need for New England with Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, Ja’Whaun Bentley and John Simon all returning, but coach Bill Belichick loves to bolster this group with Day 3 picks. The Patriots have selected multiple ‘backers in three of the last four drafts.
Takitaki is projected as a late-round pick/priority free agent, with evaluators suggesting his skill set could earn him early playing time on special teams.
“Right now, it seems like the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals are the favorites for his services,” Pauline wrote.
After a rocky start to his BYU career that included multiple suspensions for off-field incidents and a year spent away from the program, Takitaki was highly productive over his final two collegiate seasons, totaling 198 tackles, 22 1/2 tackles for loss and nine sacks in 2017 and 2018.
“From wild and immature to a married man and team captain, Takitaki’s career at BYU has been filled with several downs and one big upswing that started in 2017 after he sat out 2016 to ‘get his head right,’ ” Zierlein wrote in Takitaki’s draft profile. “He covers up for a lack of speed and instincts with a hard-charging style that leads to feast or famine tape at times. He has deficiencies that muddy his fit at all three linebacker spots, but his playing style is tailor-made for special teams which could be his ticket into a backup linebacker spot at the back end of a roster.”
Among linebackers at the NFL Scouting Combine, Takitaki ranked second in the broad jump (125 inches), seventh in the vertical jump (37 inches), 11th in the 40-yard dash (4.63 seconds) and short shuttle (4.28 seconds) and 12th in the three-cone drill (7.21 seconds) at 6-foot-1, 238 pounds.
The Patriots, who currently own 12 picks in this year’s draft, have had two BYU linebackers on their roster in recent years: Van Noy, whom they acquired in a trade in 2016, and Harvey Langi, who made the team as an undrafted rookie in 2017.
Thumbnail photo via Jeff Swinger/USA TODAY Sports Images