Belichick on the road looking for the next Patriot

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Every year around this time, NFL front office personnel and coaches are scouring the countryside for that next big draft pick, that guy who's going to do it for their team.  Those with money to burn and a top draft pick will lay out mucho dinero for the player they think can help them the most or, at the very least, develop into that player.  It's no surprise that Bill Belichick is "On Tour".  It may not be with his buddy Bon Jovi, but it's an important roadshow, none the less.  The difference between the Patriots and many other teams is that, for the most part, we have what we need.  Sure, some youth would be good in a few areas, particularly CB, OL, and LB, but we've done a pretty good job of shoring up those areas with vets, both mid-career and experienced, if you will.  So, who's Bill looking at?

First, let's get acquainted with a few of the mechanisms used to evaluate players.  The NFL combine, held in the home of the Colts, gives front office personnel, coaches, and scouts a "speed dating" view of potential NFL players.  By watching a set of organized drills, players can be evaluated based on a set criteria.  Some even try to guage how a player will do by comparing their scores to players in the past - Joe scored highly in the past in this area and turned out to be a good fit, so Sam may offer the same.  There's some science and art to the whole thing but, in the end, noone really knows how a player will perform at an NFL level.  Next, we have College Pro Days.  Colleges invite NFL team personnel to one of these days to give the player a chance at performing on their home turf.  Last, but not least, the team will "work out" the player at their NFL facility.  This is where the prospective team can get into it with the player, where the rubber hits the road, in my opinion. 

Where's Bill been?  Very recently, UConn:

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who has been hanging out quite a bit today with UConn coach Randy Edsall, whispered a little something in Edsall's ear just a few minutes ago.

Edsall said he asked to see Lorenzen as a safety. And right now, he's working with Darius Butler and Dahna Deleston and Belichick is right on top of the drills they're running, has taken off his coat and everything.

Before that, Lorenzen had been throwing square-ins and outs to Donald Brown and hit him nicely on a deep out and up which brought caught on his fingertips about to fall out of bounds.

That's typical Belichick.  Yeah, I know he's a quarterback, but lemme see him at Safety; I heard he did some of that in high school.  The Patriots have also been working out some players at home.  Chris Price of WEEI reports FSU linebacker Derk Nicholson spent some time in Foxboro:

WEEI.com has confirmed a report the Patriots worked out Florida State linebacker Derek Nicholson earlier this month. Nicholson, a 6-foot-2, 233-pounder, was the Seminoles leading tackler last season. The North Carolina native is known for his durability, as he started every FSU game the last two years, and statistically, was one of the most consistent defenders on the team, leading the team in tackles the last two seasons. His bloodlines would certainly qualify him for a spot in the National Football League — his father Darrell was a linebacker with the Giants, while his brother A.J. was taken in the fifth round of the 2006 draft by Cincinnati.

Last, but not least, DE/OLB Connor Barwin from the University of Cincinnati is scheduled to make his second visit to Foxboro:

"Connor has received a lot of interest throughout this whole process, starting with a solid Senior Bowl, a tremendous combine, and another great showing at his Pro Day, so interest continues to build," said Scott Smith of XAM Sports, who represents Barwin. "The Patriots are a team we have kept track of because of Connor's versatility, who he is as a person, and who he is as an athlete. It seems like a good fit. Obviously, we're excited they are bringing him in for a visit. Connor is looking forward to the trip."

Barwin, who led the Big East with 11 sacks last season, could be the pass-rushing presence the Patriots are seeking. He is considered a first- or second-round possibility.

Heck, we're in good shape with Pierre Woods and Adalius Thomas, but it wouldn't hurt to shore up the ranks with a young buck who doesn't mind throwing himself around, particularly as a pass rusher.

[EDIT: corrections pointed out by greg from patriotsblog.net - This is Barwin's FIRST official pre-draft visit to Foxboro; he's previously had a private workout with TE coach Shane Waldron.  Derek Nicholson was most likely worked out at FSU and not Foxboro]

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