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Picked-up pieces from combine

2/29/2012

Some picked-up pieces from the NFL combine as they relate to the Patriots:

1. Setting the safety class. In what projects as a high need area for the Patriots this offseason, the draft class is not strong. Alabama's Mark Barron is the only projected first-round pick, with Notre Dame's Harrison Smith projected by analysts as a second-rounder. "After that it gets kind of interesting becuase I don't think it has really played itself out yet," said NFL Network's Mike Mayock, who projected that some teams will lean more toward bigger corners to fill some of those roles. This is something to keep in mind as the Patriots approach free agency -- knowing the draft class is light, it could lead them to be more aggressive in veteran free agency.

2. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd unlikely to slip to 27. The possibility of Floyd (6-2, 220) slipping to the Patriots at No. 27, and providing that important outside threat, might be less likely after his workout. Floyd ran a 4.47 time in the 40, which is solid speed for a player at his size. "I thought Floyd had as good a day as just about anybody out there," Mayock said. "I don't think [he] falls out of the top 21. I think his bigger challenge is to just make sure people take his red flags off the field and make sure he adjusts it accordingly. If teams take him off the board, that's one thing. But if you're just talking to me about a football player, he's a top-21 talent." In addition to Floyd, Mayock said Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill's 4.36 time in the 40, "kind of pushed himself right up in the forefront of this wide receiver thing."

3. Big d-linemen make an impression. LSU's Michael Brockers (6-6, 321) and Memphis' Dontari Poe (6-4, 346) were players who walked into the media center and looked like they were in the wrong place. Simply based on body type, they look like NFL veterans. Their presence highlighted an overall strong class on the interior d-line, with Mayock saying Poe's movement skills draw some comparison to Baltimore's Haloti Ngata. Poe had 44 reps on the bench. For most in the Bill Parcells/Bill Belichick coaching tree, size is important and when I saw both of those players, the first thought was "Those are the type of guys who would fit with the Patriots." Brockers is unlikely to make it out of the top 15, but Poe is someone I have circled in my notebook to follow closer through this process.