With the free agency buzz winding down, the Patriots are in the process of lining up pre-draft visits with 2012 NFL Draft prospects. That being said, a new name has been connected to the Patriots. According to Aaron Wilson of Scout.com, West Virginia defensive end / outside linebacker Bruce Irvin is scheduled to visit the Patriots:
West Virginia outside linebacker-defensive end Bruce Irvin has a busy schedule with upcoming visits with the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs, according yo a league source with knowledge of the situation.
Irvin has worked out privately for the Chicago Bears and Jets.
Irvin, at 6'3" and 245 lbs, is a tad undersized for the Patriots "traditional" 3-4 outside linebacker. That being said, he has freakish athleticism (4.43 40 yard dash time) and tremendous pass rush production (he recorded 38.5 combined sacks his final three years with the Mountaineers). While he has the athleticism and fluidity to stand up and play linebacker for the Patriots, I could see him as a potential Mark Anderson replacement with a primary role as a pass rusher in sub-packages. It should be noted that Irvin has some serious character red flags (arrested in college for destruction of property, drug dealer after dropping out of high school), so the Patriots could be bringing him in for a visit in part to address those potential concerns.