The New England Patriots are putting in work for the 2021 NFL Draft and reportedly held a recent virtual meeting with a Notre Dame edge defender.
Hayes, who measured in at 6-foot-4, 261 pounds at the Senior Bowl, registered three sacks, an interception and six tackles for loss in nine games last season. He had 97 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks and an interception in 43 career college games in five seasons. Hayes received a medical redshirt after playing just three games before tearing his labrum in 2019, allowing him to play a fifth season in 2020.
On top of Hayes’ three sacks, the redshirt senior had seven QB hits and 23 hurries in 2020, per PFF’s charting. PFF also noted in their draft guide that Hayes dropped into coverage “with regularity” at Notre Dame. His biggest strength, per PFF, is his coordination, while his biggest weakness is “high-end physical tools.” PFF compared Hayes to Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo.
The Patriots currently have edge defenders Chase Winovich, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Rashod Berry and Tashawn Bower on their 90-man roster. Edge defenders Shilique Calhoun, Brandon Copeland, John Simon and Deatrich Wise are set to be unrestricted free agents in March. Hayes mostly played outside linebacker at Notre Dame.
The Patriots currently hold the following picks in the 2021 NFL Draft:
First round, 15th overall pick
Second round, 46th overall pick
New England also is projected to receive a third-round compensatory pick and two fourth-round compensatory picks after losing quarterback Tom Brady and linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins in free agency last winter.