First, there’s EDGE prospect Ifeadi Odenigbo, who stands at 6’3, 258 pounds, runs a 4.72s 40 yard dash and has a ridiculous 10’7 broad jump. Odenigbo is currently considered a late day three prospect, despite ranking second in Northwestern history with 23.5 career sacks and earning Second Team All Big Ten distinction.
The Patriots are interested in day three pass rushers because, well, they don’t have many picks in day one or day two, and Odenigbo could be an interesting project.
But the player that I think caught the Patriots eye is WR Austin Carr, who was a Biletnikoff finalist for best receiver in college football, a consensus First Team All Big Ten selection, became the only the second player since 1998 (2001 All Pro WR David Boston) to win the Big Ten Receiver Triple Crown (2012 Allen Robinson) leading the conference in catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, finished as Pro Football Focus’ top college receiver, and somehow was snubbed from the NFL Combine.
Carr is 6’0, 201 pounds and collected 90 receptions for 1,247 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns as primarily a slot receiver. He accounted for 39.2% of the Wildcats passing yards and 54.5% of the passing touchdowns. Carr snagged 45 catches, 598 yards, and 5 touchdowns in 6 games against ranked opponents, which averaged to 7.5 catches for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown.
Watch Carr snag 8 receptions for 158 yards against a great Ohio State defense:
Carr thrives at catching passes in traffic, running quick in and out routes, and produces at all levels of the field- not just underneath- but is somehow projected to be undrafted by NFLDraftScout. Prior to his 2016 season, Carr was a secondary option in the offense and played on special teams. He told Edholm that “he likes watching the New England Patriots and how they use their smaller, quicker, savvier receivers to create mismatches underneath.”
“That’s me,” Carr added. “That’s my game.”
Carr ran an unofficial 4.54s 40 yard dash, while Edholm reports that Carr posted an incredible 4.04s shuttle time and a filthy 6.72s three cone, highlighting his quick change of direction ability. That shuttle would have ranked 5th for wide receivers at the NFL Combine and the three cone would have ranked 4th- and no receiver ranked ahead of Carr in both drills.
The Patriots are no strangers to Northwestern receivers and selected WR Jeremy Ebert in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft, a player I hilariously declared “could put Julian Edelman on notice this off-season.” Ebert spent three seasons in the league on various practice squads.
New England has been looking at potential late round slot receivers to potentially replace WR Danny Amendola, or at least serve as a camp body and practice squad player.
The Patriots met with Arkansas WR Drew Morgan (UDFA) at the Senior Bowl, with Clemson WR Artavis Scott (round 5), Connecticut WR Noel Thomas (UDFA), Alabama WR ArDarius Stewart (round 2-3) at the NFL Combine, and with Wyoming WR Tanner Gentry (UDFA) at his Pro Day. The Patriots also attended the Tulsa Pro Day, where slot WR Keevan Lucas (UDFA) was the highest-regarded prospect.
Carr fits in this mold as a late round slot receiver with major production and great hands, and would be worth a late round pick in the upcoming draft.