Patriots Likely Watching Future New England Players At Alabama Pro Day

Multiple players make sense for New England

by

March 30, 2022

Alabama is holding its annual pre-draft pro day Wednesday in Tuscaloosa. Odds are high that at least one participant will wind up playing for the New England Patriots.

The Crimson Tide, coached by Bill Belichick’s longtime friend and former colleague Nick Saban, have been a de facto feeder program for the Patriots throughout Saban’s tenure.

Since 2010, Alabama has produced eight New England draft picks, the most of any school. (Michigan, Florida and Arkansas are tied for second with six apiece.) It’s produced at least one in each of the last three drafts and five of the last seven.

Last year, the Patriots’ top two selections (first-round quarterback Mac Jones and second-round defensive tackle Christian Barmore) both were national championship-winning Bama products. They currently have five Alabama players on their roster, including new linebacker Mack Wilson, who came over in a trade earlier this month. The others: Jones, Barmore, running back Damien Harris and linebacker Anfernee Jennings.

Who might join that group in next month’s 2022 NFL Draft? Here are the players expected to participate in at least a portion of Wednesday’s pro day, according to the Alabama athletic department:

DB Jalyn Armour-Davis
WR Slade Bolden
LB Christian Harris
DL Phil Mathis
OT Evan Neal
OL Chris Owens
DL LaBryan Ray
RB Brian Robinson
DB Daniel Wright

Neal, one of the best tackles in this class, is a projected top-five pick, meaning he’ll be long gone by the time the Patriots come on the clock. But the rest of those prospects will be in New England’s range, and several have been pegged as potential targets for Belichick’s club.

Harris could be in play on Day 2 as the Patriots continue to retool their linebacking corps. Mathis was a dominant and versatile run defender who also racked up nine sacks as a senior. Injuries prevented Ray from becoming a major contributor for the Tide, but he’s a former five-star recruit who could be worth a late-round flier. Bolden is an obvious Patriots fit, and after a lackluster showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, the slot receiver could be available as an undrafted free agent.

The Patriots also could have their eyes on two Alabama players who won’t work out Wednesday. Wide receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie, both recovering from late-season torn ACLs, have been popular mock draft selections for New England in the first and second round, respectively.

Metchie displayed a strong connection with Jones in 2020, and Williams was wildly productive in his lone season in Tuscaloosa, catching 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns after transferring in from Ohio State. Both met with the Patriots at the combine and would fill New England’s need for high-end talent at the receiver position.

The NFL draft kicks off Thursday, April 28.

Thumbnail photo via Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser via USA TODAY Sports Images
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