The New England Patriots selected a wide receiver in the first round of the NFL draft last season for the first time in Bill Belichick’s tenure.
But taking N’Keal Harry in the 2019 NFL Draft doesn’t necessarily preclude the Patriots from spending a pick on another wideout this spring. Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline overheard New England scouts “gushing over” SMU wide receiver James Proche at the 2020 Senior Bowl.
Proche, who’s 5-foot-10, 196 pounds, is a projected fourth-round pick. The Patriots have one third-round pick and one fourth-round pick. They’re projected to receive two more third-round compensatory picks.
Proche caught 111 passes for 1,225 yards with 15 touchdowns in 2019. That was following up a 93-catch, 1,199-yard, 12-touchdown campaign in 2018. In total, he caught 301 passes for 3,949 yards with 39 touchdowns in four seasons with the Mustangs. Proche also carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards, returned 50 punts for 382 yards and 31 kicks for 615 yards. He completed 1-of-5 passes for 2 yards and registered three tackles.
The Dallas native had just three drops in 2019, per Pro Football Focus, and nine in his entire college career. He caught 11 deep passes for 367 yards. Proche spent 423 of 901 snaps in the slot last season and played more heavily in the slot early in his college career.
The Patriots are returning Harry, Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Quincy Adeboyejo and Devin Ross at the wide receiver position this season. Phillip Dorsett and Matthew Slater are free agents.
Thumbnail photo via Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports Images