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Mel Kiper Connects Patriots to Jake Locker

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I'm just going to throw this out there: This is silly talk. Reports of Washington QB Jake Locker spending two days with the Patriots have hit the news stands, so naturally the draft folks are jumping at the opportunity to say, "maybe!" just in case it happens. I mean, the Patriots wouldn't spend two days with a player that they weren't even a little interested in drafting, right?

Well, we don't have to go far in the past to find a scenario similar to this very occasion. Remember Tim Tebow from last year? Well, the Patriots brought him in for a two day session as well. If I can recall correctly, the Patriots drafted him at the end of the first round manipulated the draft board and caused the Broncos to trade up (and down, and up, and down) into the first round to snag Tebow. Of course, the Patriots had plenty of opportunities to take Tebow in the first round, but they decided against taking him. This year will be the same story with Locker.

Locker is a prospect who is on the first round bubble, which means that a team may be willing to trade up to the end of the first round to #28 to take him- or they may want to trade up to #33 to take him at the start of the second round. Or maybe a team loves Locker enough to trade up to #17 to take him. No matter the scenario, the Patriots are in prime position to deal with a team interested in moving into the first round to take Locker.

Of course, the fact that the Patriots have brought in Locker has sparked the draftniks to say, "[Tom Brady's] window is going to close at some point."

Yeah. Same old story.

Let's see what's really happening after the jump!

The Patriots are doing something called "due diligence," which basically means bringing in not only players that interest the Patriots, but also players that other teams may be interested in drafting around the Patriots' draft picks. When a team trades up and down in the draft as frequently as the Patriots, they need to know the value of the players associated with those draft picks. Since Locker is regarded as a late first/early second round draft pick, it makes perfect sense that the Patriots, owners of the #28 and #33 draft picks, would bring in Locker to take a closer look.

It's not that the Patriots want to see if Locker will be a fit with the Patriots, but it's to see what other teams are seeing when they bring in Locker. If Locker is viewed as a legitimate late first draft pick (and you can be certain that the Patriots will find out what teams are interested in taking Locker), then the value of the 28th and 33rd overall picks increase because they're two spots where a team could trade to take Locker. If Locker does poorly during the Patriots' draft visit, then he probably did poorly during his visits to other teams, and that means he'll drop in value.

The Patriots have expressed interest in moving the #28 pick and everyone knows that #33 will be sold to the highest bidder. The visit with Locker does not mean that Tom Brady's window is closing any more quickly than anticipated- I'm pretty sure he's coming off one of the best seasons of his career- but it means that the Patriots are just doing their homework.

Of course, it's just easier to say that the Patriots are interested in Locker and that they'll take him to be the quarterback of the future.

Or not.