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2020 NFL draft: The Patriots’ coaching staff hits the scouting trail with the team out of the playoffs

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Related: Quick-hit thoughts on the Senior Bowl weigh-ins

NFL: AUG 02 Patriots Training Camp Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following the New England Patriots’ victory in last year’s Super Bowl, head coach/de facto general manager Bill Belichick pointed out that his team was already behind in its offseason preparation. Needless to say that this is not the case in 2020, as Belichick’s club was already eliminated from playoff contention in the wild card round. As a result, the Patriots and their staff can now head into the roster construction for the upcoming season earlier than usual.

This includes scouting the upcoming NFL draft, of course, and as opposed to the last three years in particular New England’s coaches can actively participate in the process from a comparatively early stage on. Look no further than the Senior Bowl, which os currently taking place in Mobile, Alabama and is being closely observed by representatives from the league’s 32 franchises — a group that includes members of the Patriots’ coaching staff.

Belichick himself is in attendance to watch some of the top draft prospects go through a series of weigh-ins and workouts before Saturday’s game, as are defensive assistants Jerod Mayo (inside linebackers coach) and Steve Belichick (secondary/safeties coach). As a result, the 2020 Senior Bowl becomes the first since 2016 that can name the Patriots’ head coach and members of its staff among its observers.

Back then, Belichick and company watched six players that would either get drafted by the team or signed as rookie free agents, as pointed out by colleague Oliver Thomas earlier this week:

Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama – second round

Jacoby Brissett, QB, North Carolina State – third round

Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia – fourth round

D.J. Foster, RB, Arizona State – undrafted class

Jonathan Jones, CB, Auburn – undrafted class

Bryce Williams, TE, East Carolina – undrafted class

Five other players that participated in the Senior Bowl four years ago eventually found their way to New England as well. Whether or not a similar output can be expected this year as well remains to be seen, but Belichick and company are making sure to get a first-hand look at the available talent — from quarterbacks Jordan Love and Justin Herbert, to tight end Brycen Hopkins and Jared Pinkney, to defensive lineman Darrion Daniels and linebacker Zack Baun.

Make sure to follow our man in Mobile this week: Mark Schofield will regularly bring you updates either on PatsPulpit.com, The Scho Show (click here to subscribe), or via his Twitter feed (@markschofield).