The New England Patriots are already looking towards the draft and have been sending their scouts to some of the top college games around the nation. Luckily for the Patriots, their needs in the upcoming draft are pretty small, with no real starters needed for the near future.
In fact, the Patriots have invested so well that the top free agent this offseason is running back LeGarrette Blount, a player so undesirable to other teams that he was kicked off the Steelers after half a season. Luckily for Blount, he's a perfect match in the New England attack and he'll be welcomed back with open arms.
Outside of Blount, the Patriots biggest needs are depth roles at running back, wide receiver, tackle, cornerback, and linebacker. We could even argue that tackle (Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming) isn't much of a need and even linebacker (Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower, Jonathan Freeny, Jon Bostic) has players signed for multiple years.
With that in mind, we'll look at players at positions of possible need.
Per NFL Network's Chase Goodbread, the Patriots had college scouts at the following games this weekend:
(9) Michigan State at (3) Ohio State
Michigan State followed their back-up quarterback to upset the reigning National Champions 17-14 on a last second field goal.
Michigan State Prospects
OT Jack Conklin - A first round prospect and three-year starter at tackle, likely out of the Patriots range.
DE Shilique Calhoun - Calhoun is a great run defender, reminiscent of prime-2011 Rob Ninkovich, who has turned the corner as a top tier pass rusher. Likely a mid-2nd value.
WR Aaron Burbridge - Burbridge collected 4 receptions for 62 yards as the only receiver to post more than 12 yards on the Spartans, and the only receiver on either side with more than 22 yards. He's a clean route runner that reminds me of Antonio Brown or Golden Tate. The 6'1, 210 lbs receiver is currently rated as a 4th-5th round option, but don't be surprised if he rises during the offseason.
Ohio State Prospects
RB Ezekiel Elliott - Likely a top 20 pick, Elliott had a quiet day with just 33 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
OT Taylor Decker - Decker is another first round tackle prospect, likely out of the Patriots range.
WR Michael Thomas - The 6'3, 210 lbs Thomas collected 8 yards on 2 targets. Thomas is regarded as a first round prospect, but he's a projection and hasn't dominated against top talent.
LB Darron Lee - Lee stands at 6'1, 235 lbs and is a former quarterback with a lanky build, but he understands how to maneuver around a defense and how to make plays in the backfield. He's a mid-2nd option.
LB Joshua Perry - Perry is 6'4, 250 lbs and is a better match for what Bill Belichick looks for in his linebackers. CBS Sports notes that his teammates love his leadership and he plays to the whistle every time. Another mid-2nd option.
WR Braxton Miller - The former quarterback had 3 touches for 12 yards on the day. He's a 6'1, 215 athlete that doesn't really have a role in the NFL. Currently regarded as a mid-round option.
TE Nick Vannett - Vannett could be another Michael Hoomanawnaui in the Patriots offense, contributing as a blocker with maybe one or two targets per game. He's not a game changer, but is an able mid-round depth option.
(15) Louisiana State at (22) Ole Miss
Ole Miss wiped out LSU with a 38-17 final score.
Louisiana State Prospects
CB Tre'Davious White - Regarded as a first round prospect, he matched up against Ole Miss' top receiver and did a great job. He also returns punts. White is firmly outside of the Patriots range.
LB Kendell Beckwith - The 6'2, 250 lbs linebacker is a 2nd round prospect that is considered one of the best in the draft. He's a downhill thumper that needs to work on his sideline speed.
WR Travin Dural - Dural is a wide receiver that is used as a jackknife all over the LSU offense. He's a big threat with the quick and deep passes, and he can run sweeps. He also rescued someone from an overturned vehicle. Dural left the game with a hamstring injury.
LB Deion Jones - 6'1, 230 lbs linebacker plays special teams and stepped into the starting line-up as a senior. LSU uses a similar 4-2-5 alignment as the Patriots and Jones is regarded as one of the team leaders.
Ole Miss Prospects
OT Laremy Tunsil - Regarded as the best tackle in college football and a likely top 10 selection. Patriots could possibly see him on one of their division rivals in the future.
WR Laquon Treadwell - Treadwell is the best receiver in the nation at 6'2, 210 lbs and is a likely top 15 pick, out of the Patriots range. Posted 58 yards and a touchdown on 4 receptions. Another option in a division rival's future.
TE Evan Engram - The 6'3, 230 lbs tight end collected 5 receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown on the day. Engram aligns all over the formation, inside, outside, and as the fullback. He is considered a 3rd/4th round prospect.