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How Relevant are Pre-Draft Meetings for the Patriots?

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Oregon defensive back Christian Gonzalez, left, poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the New England Patriots with the 17th overall pick during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

This week the first two Top 30 visits for the New England Patriots became known: BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia and UCF wide receiver Javon Baker. There have also been meetings with prospects at the East West Shrine Bowl, Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine, and Pro Days. Just how important is it for prospects to be among those New England touches base with beforehand? Based on recent history, it certainly doesn’t hurt their chances of playing for the Patriots.

Pre-Draft Meetings for the 2023 New England Patriots Draft Class

Christian Gonzalez

Gonzalez met with the Patriots at the NFL Scouting Combine. He was also brought in for a Top 30 visit. This seemed optimistic on behalf of New England. Christian Gonzalez ranked in the Top 10 overall on many draft boards (No. 7 here). The Patriots held the No. 14 pick in the first round. The team traded down three spots and still landed the elite corner at No. 17.

Keion White

White said he had no contact with the New England Patriots before finding out they had selected him at No. 46 overall. Keion White proves that just because a player doesn’t appear to be on a team’s radar it doesn’t mean drafting them is not still an option.

Marte Mapu

New England met with Mapu as part of their Top 30 visits a year ago. They then selected him with the No. 76 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Marte Mapu is a highbred linebacker-safety, who appears ready to get more snaps at safety this season.

Jake Andrews

The Patriots selected Jake Andrews at No. 107. He is a potential successor to starting center David Andrews. Although the position was not necessarily high on New England’s list of needs, they did invite Andrews to Foxboro as one of their Top 30 visits a year ago.

Chad Ryland

New England attended Chad Ryland’s Pro Day at Maryland, brought him in as one of their Top 30 visits, and then selected him with the No. 112 pick in the draft.

Sidy Sow

A fifth draft selection (or six) to confirm having a Top 30 visit with New England before the draft. The Patriots picked Sow No. 117 overall.

Atonio Mafi

Mafi did not have any official visits with the New England Patriots. However, he played in the Shrine Bowl, which featured New England coaches running one of the teams. The Patriots selected two players from the East-West Shrine Bowl.

Kayshon Boutte

Of the Patriots’ 12 draft picks in 2023, Boutte is one of only three with no known contact with the team before the draft. New England selected him with pick No. 187.

Bryce Baringer

The No. 192 pick in the NFL Draft, Baringer was one of two punters the Patriots met with at the Senior Bowl.

DeMario Douglas

Like Atonio Mafi, the New England Patriots’ biggest exposure to Douglas before the draft was coaching him at the East-West Shrine Bowl.

Ameer Speed

The third member of the draft class with no known contact with the team before being selected. Speed went No. 214 overall. He was claimed off waivers by the Indianapolis Colts after being one of New England’s final cuts at the end of training camp.

Isaiah Bolden

New England brought Isaiah Bolden in as one of their Top 30 visits. They selected him at No. 245 overall. It is further proof (as are the players below) that Top 30 visits are not meant merely for the Top 30 players on a team’s draft board.

Unrestricted Free Agents

Quarterback Malik Cunningham had New England attend his Pro Day at Louisville. Gardner-Webb WR T.J. Luther was a Top 30 visit for New England. He signed with the New York Jets as a UDFA but was signed to the Patriots practice squad after being cut.

There is no magic formula to let people know which players will be drafted by the New England Patriots next month. There are many players they will have contact with and not draft. New England cannot select or sign every player they’ve had contact with. The Patriots also have a new regime in place. It will be interesting to monitor if there will be more of a correlation between shown interest and actual selections under Eliot Wolf’s watch. It is worth monitoring, as are the prospects who will join Suamataia and Baker in coming to Foxboro on Top 30 visits.

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