INDIANAPOLIS — Is this the year the Patriots spring for a receiver in the first round of the draft?
Since Bill Belichick took over in 2000, the Pats are the only team in the league that has not selected a receiver in the opening round. To date, Chad Jackson is their highest-drafted receiver in the Belichick era, picked in the second round (No. 36 overall) in 2006.
Super Bowl champions yet again, the Pats are slated to pick No. 32 in the first round of next month’s draft. Receivers that could be available in that spot include Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, Ole Miss’ D.K. Metcalf, and South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel.
Brown, an undersized but electric playmaker, met with the Patriots at the NFL combine. A cousin of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, the former Sooners star may slide in the draft due to a recent Lisfranc surgery. He’ll be in a walking boot for another month.
Brown, who checked in at 5-foot-9, 166 pounds, was not able to compete in drills at the combine, but offered the following self-scouting report:
“My speed, playmaking ability, my dynamic ability and explosiveness (are strengths),” Brown said. “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.”
Metcalf, another possible first-round selection, is basically the inverse of Brown. He’s a hulking 6-3, 228. Last week, Metcalf pumped out 27 reps on the bench press, an unusually high number for a wide receiver.
The 5-11, 214-pound Samuel can do a little bit of everything. He said he met with the Patriots on the first day of the combine.
“Not only am I a receiver, I also started on kick return and every special teams but kickoff,” Samuel said. “And being great after the catch. I’m a physical guy.”
Samuel said he models his game after Golden Tate, who could be a free agent target of the Patriots in the coming weeks.
Boston College tight end Tommy Sweeney is one of seven Eagles at the combine.
He’s also one of the hundreds of college tight ends looking up to Rob Gronkowski.
“You definitely want to watch guys in the NFL who have been successful. They’ve been successful so you want to emulate that success,” Sweeney said. “Obviously, he’s been a guy for a long time, who does a lot of good things well. So I try to watch him. He’s also huge . . . he’s kind of freakish, so you want to take the technique points from him.”
The 6-5, 250-pound Sweeney projects as a mid-round pick.
He was named first-team All-ACC as a senior. His college career ended on a bizarre note, though. Boston College’s bowl game was canceled during the first quarter due to the threat of severe weather.