Everyone knows, besides quarterback in the event of the unspeakable, the Patriots are in desperate need of help at two positions in the draft: tight end and, perhaps, receiver. Actually, you might be able to count tight end twice considering the lack of talent at the position last season for New England.
Obviously a lot goes into the evaluation of prospects, including the game film and other things that can't be quantified like character and football character.
But there are some things that can be quantified and the scouting combine was the first part in that process. We were able to get a glimpse under the hood of some of the prospects with their workout numbers. All the numbers matter in some form, but when it comes to the Patriots and these two positions, there are three numbers that will arguably mean the most when it comes to identifying athletes:
Drop rate (hands, from ProFootballFocus.com)
3-cone drill (agility)
40-yard dash (explosion)
Chris Price has previously made the 3-cone drill a cottage industry in his time here. You can add recent drafts to reinforce the importance of those numbers: N'Keal Harry, Derek Rivers, Chase Winovich, Christian Sam, Ryan Izzo, Braxton Berrios, and Duke Dawson were among the recent picks who had great 3-cone times for their positions.
So to start to whittle down the prospects for the Patriots at those positions, we've started to crunch the numbers and use a simple formula to see who could be the best overall prospects. Full disclosure: the receivers have a lot of incomplete data in all three areas, and some key tight ends are missing them as well. But as the players go through their pro days, we'll be able to update the charts and the formula.
We put together the numbers, ranked the players in each category and then weighted the results by our perceived importance (3 points for drop rate from PFF; 2 points for 3-cone and 1 point for 40).
Who are the leaders in the combine clubhouse? Yes, some of the results surprised us too.