We interrupt the free-agent frenzy with a quick draft tidbit...
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels spent time with some of LSU's draft prospects on Thursday. This is standard operating procedure for the Patriots at this time of year -- they send their coaches and scouts across the country for personal workouts as they gather information that helps set the team's draft board.
The information is passed along with a few thoughts in mind:
Why Belichick likes coaches to start in scouting department. When McDaniels first arrived in New England, one of his first jobs was as a personnel assistant. Bill Belichick likes his young coaches to start there because a big part of coaching, he believes, is understanding personnel. While McDaniels is set to serve as offensive coordinator in 2012, he was working out defensive players Thursday.
Coaches on the scouting trail. One of the values of sending coaches like McDaniels on the scouting trail is to cross check reports produced by scouts over the course of the year, providing a slightly different perspective in the grading of prospects as they fit into the Patriots' specific system. A coach will have the best idea of what the Patriots would ask the prospect to do on the field.
Eyes on Brandon Taylor. One of the players McDaniels spent time with Thusday was safety Brandon Taylor. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper recently pointed to Taylor as possibly the third-rated safety in the draft, behind Mark Barron (Alabama) and Harrison Smith (Notre Dame), and noted that he projects as a second- or third-round pick. The Patriots will work out hundreds of players leading into the draft, so too much shouldn't be read into a workout like this, but at the least it puts Taylor on the radar of players to monitor leading up to the draft.
Safety need for Patriots. McDaniels' work with Taylor came on the same day that the Patriots were agreeing to terms on a three-year contract with free-agent safety Steve Gregory. It was likely a coincidence, but from this view, also serves as a reminder that the Patriots will still look closely at the safety position -- both in free agency (reported LaRon Landry visit) and the draft. Gregory, formerly of the Chargers, is a start to helping the team rectify its issues at safety from 2011. He's not the only answer.