Whenever we mention in this space that the Patriots are getting a closer look at a college player entering the draft -- and we'll do that quite a bit between now and the end of April -- it's important to note that every year the Patriots take closer looks at a lot of players.
Whether it's at one of the postseason All-Star bowl games, or at the NFL Scouting Combine, or at pro days or private workouts, the Patriots are constantly doing their due diligence on players they're interested in and players who have questions that need answering.
Many of the players they study up on will be long gone by the time Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio are on the clock to make a selection, but they do it anyway because you never know.
That said, we'll still provide you with what we hear on the whereabouts of Patriots coaches and scouts as they do their homework on prospects because it may potentially provide a window into their thought processes as they approach the draft.
It's not a totally trivial exercise.
For example, two years ago, Belichick ran Georgia center David Andrews through drills in Athens. He wasn't drafted, but that initial interest helped lead Andrews to being signed as an undrafted rookie. After one full season in the program, he won the starting job and became the signal-caller on a Super Bowl-winning offensive line.
On Tuesday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported that the Patriots had a private workout scheduled with Cincinnati linebacker Eric Wilson -- another potential late-round selection with good college production and some interesting athletic traits.
University of Cincinnati linebacker Eric Wilson, who has private workout for Patriots, ran sub 4.5 40 yard dash, 39.5 vertical— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 22, 2017
Wilson was named to the American Athletic Conference's first team last season after leading the AAC in tackles and posting his second-consecutive 100-tackle season for the Bearcats. Wilson, who was not invited to the combine, was listed at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds last year at Cincinnati.
The Patriots showed some interest in another more highly-touted athletic linebacker earlier in the pre-draft process when Belichick watched film with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham and then ran him through drills at his pro day.
Though the Patriots were able to re-sign linebacker and captain Dont'a Hightower last week, they could certainly still be looking for help at that position. Others under contract at that spot for the Patriots include Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Shea McClellin.