With the first round of the 2018 NFL draft not even three weeks away, the New England Patriots' pre-draft activity is starting picking up considerable steam. As part of the process that includes trips to pro days, interviews and private workouts, the team is also allowed to bring in a maximum of 30 players on visits – draft prospects that will go to Gillette Stadium and get their own private workouts with the Patriots' staff.
After cornerback Duke Dawson (Florida), linebacker Rashaan Evans (Alabama) and wideouts Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) and D.J. Moore (Maryland) were already reported as top-30 visitors, three more names recently emerged. Let's take a closer look at them:
RB Derrius Guice, LSU
One of the top running backs to enter this year’s draft, LSU's Derrius Guice is coming off a productive three-year career at LSU that really took off over the last two seasons. Serving as the Tigers' featured ball carrier, the 20-year old averaged 1,319 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Due to his excellent vision, outstanding burst and ability to create yards after contact, Guice is projected to come off the board early on day two – a spot where the Patriots are positioned due to the Jimmy Garoppolo trade.
DE Josh Sweat, Florida State
An outstanding athlete, Florida State's Josh Sweat has every chance to turn into an impact player at the next level due to the versatility and athletic upside. Playing mostly on the end of the defensive line over his three collegiate seasons, the 21-year old showed flashes as both a pass rusher and a run defender. And while he comes with questions about his frame and durability, Sweat's ability to play multiple roles both on and off the line of scrimmage makes him an intriguing prospect that could hear his name called as early as the second round.
DE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest
Similar to Sweat, Wake Forest's Duke Ejiofor needs to add bulk to establish himself as a three-down player at the next level. And while he lacks top-end athletic traits, the soon-to-be 23-year old has been a productive player in college: Due to his sound technique and gap discipline, he was able to register 23.5 sacks for the Demon Deacons. Ejiofor, who is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and is expected to be cleared by late July or August, is projected to get drafted on day two by a team that needs help in the pass rushing department. New England certainly falls in that category.
All three players to visit the Patriots are potential targets on the second day of the draft. And while Sweat and Ejiofor would fill more pressing needs for the team than Derrius Guice, New England investing in the running back would also not be that big of a surprise considering that both bigger backs on the team – Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill – are entering the final year of their respective contracts.