Patriots

Bill Belichick among two head coaches, eight GMs at Alabama pro day

Bill Belichick among two head coaches, eight GMs at Alabama pro day

Bill Belichick's "vacation" was short-lived. The New England Patriots head coach is back on the recruiting trail -- and making a stop at a familiar venue.

Belichick is in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Tuesday to watch Alabama's pro day.

He's not alone, either, as one other NFL head coach -- new Cincinnati Bengals hire Zac Taylor -- and eight high-profile general managers also are in attendance, according to NFL Network producer Andrew Groover.

The trip to Tuscaloosa essentially is an annual pilgrimage for Belichick, who has a close relationship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban and has drafted four Crimson Tide players -- most notably linebacker Dont'a Hightower -- during his two-decade tenure in New England.

So, who will Belichick have his eye on Tuesday? As NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry notes, tight end Irv Smith, linebacker Mack Wilson and safety Deionte Thompson all are potential options for the Patriots, who own the No. 32 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft as well as two second-rounders and three third-rounders.

The Crimson Tide have plenty more NFL prospects, as defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and offensive lineman Jonah Williams both could go in the top 10 or 15 picks.

Expect Belichick to keep tabs on all of these players as he makes the rounds on the pro day circuit ahead of April's draft.

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Tom Brady recruits Zdeno Chara as Rob Gronkowski's replacement

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Tom Brady recruits Zdeno Chara as Rob Gronkowski's replacement

Tom Brady has an idea for Rob Gronkowski's replacement at tight end, and it doesn't involve free agency or the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Patriots quarterback had a light bulb go off above his head while watching the Bruins take on the Maple Leafs in Game 7. Why not have 6-foot-9, 256-pound defenseman Zdeno Chara give tight end a shot?

All jokes aside, Brady has been one of Chara's biggest fans during the Bruins' first-round series. He also left a motivational comment on Chara's Instagram post prior to Tuesday night's Game 7 matchup.

As for what the Patriots are really doing to fill Gronk's void at tight end, they signed both Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse in free agency during the offseason. It remains to be seen whether they'll address the tight end position during the NFL Draft, which begins April 25.

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Next-Pats Podcast: Draft week is finally here; Mike Lombardi talks assessing talent

Next-Pats Podcast: Draft week is finally here; Mike Lombardi talks assessing talent

At last, the draft has arrived - almost. Phil Perry talks to former Patriots staffer Mike Lombardi as the annual selection of talent looms.

3:42 - Phil Perry is joined by former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff, football analyst and writer for the Athletic Mike Lombardi. The two begin by discussing the validity of certain reports on players in the upcoming draft.

7:44 - Are the Patriots in a position where they need to pick a quarterback this year? Lombardi explains how difficult it is to judge talent because of the difference in the level of competition in college football.

12:26 - Lombardi talks about how this year's draft could be weak compared to previous years' and how the Patriots should approach their selections because of that.

18:36 - Phil goes through his final mock draft, with the picks being decided by the fans via Twitter polls.


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