Patriots

NFL Combine tracker: Patriots have met with these notable prospects

NFL Combine tracker: Patriots have met with these notable prospects

The New England Patriots are still waiting on Tom Brady's free-agent decision. But don't worry: They're making good use of their time.

The Patriots and the rest of the NFL descended on Indianapolis this week for the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, where hundreds of top prospects will work out and conduct interviews between now and Sunday.

According to reporters in Indy, New England already has begun talking to several of those prospects as it gears up for the 2020 NFL Draft.

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That's standard procedure, but it's still worth noting who the Patriots meet with to get a sense of what they consider their primary draft needs come April.

With that in mind, below is a running list of the notable prospects who have met with the Patriots (formally or informally) to date:

Quarterback

Jordan Love, Utah State
Jake Fromm, Georgia
Jake Luton, Oregon State
James Morgan, Florida International (at East-West Shrine Game)

Wide Receiver

Tee Higgins, Clemson
KJ Hill, Ohio State
Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan
James Proche, SMU
Michael Pittman, USC
Jalen Reagor, TCU
Denzel Mims, Baylor
KJ Hamler, Penn State
Aaron Parker, Rhode Island (at East-West Shrine Game)
Van Jefferson, Florida (at Senior Bowl)
Malcolm Perry, Navy
Tyrie Cleveland, Florida 
Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty 

Tight End

Adam Trautman, Dayton
Hunter Bryant, Washington
Jacob Breeland, Oregon
Stephen Sullivan, LSU
Jared Pinkey, Vanderbilt

Offensive Line

Austin Jackson, USC
Jonah Jackson, Ohio State
Solomon Kindley, Georgia
Shane Lemieux, Oregon
Damien Lewis, LSU
John Molchon, Boise State
Lucas Niang, TCU
Matt Peart, UConn
Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
Terence Steele, Texas Tech
Logan Stenberg, Kentucky
Alex Taylor, South Carolina St.

Jake Hanson, Oregon

Running back

Eno Benjamin, Arizona State 
Darius Anderson, TCU
Joshua Kelley, UCLA 

Kicker

Tyler Bass, Georgia Southern

Each NFL team is allowed 45 formal interviews with players at the combine, and the Patriots seemingly are allocating a good amount of those interviews to offensive skill players.

That's no surprise: New England will be in the market for a QB if Brady departs in free agency and could use upgrades at both wide receiver and tight end regardless of whether Brady stays or goes.

Patriots have dominated this category since turn of the century

Patriots have dominated this category since turn of the century

The New England Patriots have been an unstoppable force over the course of the past two decades. The team has won six Super Bowls, 17 division titles, and hasn't logged a losing season this century.

One of the reasons for their success? They have been insanely good in one-possession games.

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According to Boston Sports Info (@BostonSportsInf), the Patriots have the best winning percentage in one-score games since the turn of the century. They are one of just two teams that have won greater than 60 percent of those contests. Here's a look at the numbers:

While several teams have more wins than the Patriots in these contests, it's still remarkable that the team has won two-thirds of their one-score games in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era. It takes great decision-making on the parts of players and coaches to maintain such a strong record.

With Brady no longer on the Patriots, It looks like we're going to figure out just how much he has mattered to the Patriots' ability to win close games. Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer are the two quarterback options on the roster after Cody Kessler was released on Thursday, so Belichick will have his work cut out for him with either option.

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Meanwhile, Brady's impact on the Buccaneers may be notable depending on how much they improve in this area. The Bucs have the third-worst winning percentage of the century in one-possession games, coming in at 40.2 percent. They have the second-most losses overall with 98.

Last season, the Bucs were 3-6 in nine one-score games with Jameis Winston at the helm. If Brady can help to improve upon that record by making fewer late-game mistakes than the turnover-prone Winston did, then the Bucs may have a chance to progress well as an overall team.

Either way, we'll soon see how Brady's presence impacts the Bucs and if the Patriots can continue their winning ways in close contests.

Tom Brady ready to 'let loose' on Howard Stern Show next Wednesday

Tom Brady ready to 'let loose' on Howard Stern Show next Wednesday

Tom Brady hasn't exactly been the most electric interview over the years. Perhaps his fresh start as the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will change that.

Throughout his 20-year tenure with the New England Patriots, Brady approached interviews with team-first, politically correct responses. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with that, but having Bill Belichick as his head coach probably played a factor in Brady's lack of personality shown through his media appearances.

With his Patriots career in the rear-view mirror, Brady is set to be interviewed on a show that doesn't really allow for boring answers. That would be SiriusXM's "The Howard Stern Show."

In his tweet promoting next week's interview with the longtime controversial radio host, Brady even went as far as to say he's ready to "let loose."

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Brady and Stern undoubtedly make for an odd combination, so it'll be interesting to see how the usually buttoned-up 42-year-old QB adjusts to Stern's brash style.

We'll find out April 8.