With the calendar having turned from March to April, pre-draft preparation is entering its crucial phase all over the NFL. For the New England Patriots, this means putting the final pieces of the puzzle in place through the use of top-30 visits.
Five of those are known so far, including the latest two additions to the list. North Dakota State offensive tackle Cody Mauch and Gardner-Webb wide receiver T.J. Luther will both visit with the team, according to respective reports by Ryan Fowler of The Draft Network and KPRC 2 Houston’s Aaron Wilson.
While both would address positions of need for the Patriots, Mauch and Luther are in a different category as far as draft projection is concerned.
Mauch is one of the top offensive linemen in this year’s class, and as such a realistic candidate to come off the board as early as Round 2. At 6-foot-5, 302 pounds he offers solid size and combines it with physicality and impressive short-area movement skills. His lack of length — his arm length and wingspan both rank in the 5-percentile for offensive tackles — is a question mark, though, and might prompt teams to move him inside to guard.
The Patriots are well-set on the interior, with Cole Strange and Michael Onwenu and intriguing duo at the guard position and center David Andrews the offense’s elder statesman. As a consequence, they likely would not invest a Day 2 selection in Mauch unless they project him as a tackle.
If so, he would bring depth and developmental upside to a position in need of both. At the moment, after all, New England’s OT group consists of Trent Brown, Riley Reiff, Calvin Anderson, Conor McDermott, Yodny Cajuste and Andrew Stueber.
Luther, meanwhile, spent his college career at the Division I level. After staring out at Wofford, he transferred to Gardner-Webb ahead of his senior campaign. He spent two total seasons with the Runnin’ Bulldogs and in 2022 had the best season of his career: he caught 57 passes for 1,007 yards and eight touchdowns.
While he has good height at 6-foot-1, his lack of bulk — he measures at 180 pounds — and small-school pedigree make him an uncertain projection. Luther will likely not come off the board until the late rounds, if he gets drafted at all.
The Patriots are in a better shape at wide receiver than they are at offensive tackle, with JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton a solid core quartet. The group still has potential for improvement, though.
Besides Mauch and Luther, the Patriots will also host wide receivers Jordan Addison (USC) and Jonathan Mingo (Ole Miss) as well as cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State) on top-30 visits.