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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Stephon Tuitt checks in from Foxboro

By Mike Reiss

When the New England Patriots bring a prospect to town for one of their 30 in-house visits, it sparks us to look a bit closer at the player.

As has been dissected over the years, an in-house visit could mean many things -- a medical re-check, a chance to watch film with the player etc. -- but at the least it means that the Patriots retain some level of interest in the player and are seeking more information.

Tuitt
Today, Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt is the prospect of interest. He tweeted that he is in Foxboro after a visit with the Steelers, as NESN's Doug Kyed first pointed out.

Tuitt was the pick for the Patriots in ESPN analyst Todd McShay's mock draft 2.0 and we've noticed wide-ranging opinion on him from draft analysts in recent months.

Our initial impression on Tuitt is that he will check off most of the boxes in terms of physical measureables (6-foot-6, 303 pounds), as he has long arms (34 3/4 inches) and big hands (10 inches). Thus, the primary questions from teams probably center around his motivation, work ethic, scheme fit and injury history.

He enters the draft after his junior season and ESPN's Scouts Inc. points out that his work ethic was more consistent in 2012 than it was in 2013. Scheme-wise, some analysts view Tuitt as more of a pure 5-technique defensive end for 3-4 teams, while others see some scheme flexibility with him as he could play tackle in a 4-3.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, for example, initially didn't have Tuitt among his top five defensive ends. That stood out because Mayock is the color analyst for Notre Dame broadcasts. But Tuitt has since risen up to the No. 5 spot in Mayock's most recent rankings.

Another reason why the Patriots probably are interested in visiting with Tuitt is medical-based. Doctors at the NFL combine discovered a Jones fracture in his left foot (similar to Mark Harrison last year).

With the defensive front seven ranking high among the Patriots' potential areas to target in the draft, it makes sense that Tuitt is on the radar.