Patriots

NFL rumors: Patriots scouts 'gushed' over this wide receiver at Senior Bowl

NFL rumors: Patriots scouts 'gushed' over this wide receiver at Senior Bowl

It's no secret the New England Patriots need to upgrade their talent and depth at wide receiver before the 2020 NFL season.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn't have enough playmakers at the position to help lead the defending champs back to the Super Bowl this past season. Injuries played a part in that, but overall, Patriots wide receivers didn't produce enough.

The good news for the Patriots is they likely will have 12 picks (including compensatory selections) in the 2020 NFL Draft, and this year's class is absolutely loaded at wide receiver.

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The Patriots reportedly found at least one wide receiver they liked at the Senior Bowl this week in Alabama. Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network witnessed Patriots scouts "gushing" over SMU star James Proche.

Keep this in the back of your mind: New England Patriots scouts were gushing over James Proche during today’s practice – I heard it firsthand. This doesn’t mean they are automatically drafting Proche, but he fits the bill for the type of receiver they love and have great success with.

Proche played four seasons at SMU. He caught 93 passes for 1,199 yards with 12 touchdowns as a junior in 2018, and then tallied 111 receptions for 1,225 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior this past season. He's listed at 6-foot and 193 pounds.

Here's some footage of Proche at this week's Senior Bowl practices, per Connor Brown of SB Nation:

The Patriots selected Arizona State wideout N'Keal Harry in the first round (32nd overall) of last year's draft. Harry was the first wide receiver drafted by Bill Belichick in the first round since he took over as Patriots head coach in 2000. Harry showed flashes of first-round talent, but injury derailed much of his rookie season. It's still way too early to give up on Harry, but 2020 is no doubt an important year for him.

The Pats would be wise to bring in a veteran wide receiver via free agency or the trade market, but it absolutely makes sense to also draft one or two players at the position given the quality of this year's class.

Curran: Can Patriots re-tool like they did a decade ago?

Next Pats Podcast: Will Patriots go mobile at QB if Tom Brady leaves?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Next Pats Podcast: Will Patriots go mobile at QB if Tom Brady leaves?

There's one big question that New England Patriots are facing this offseason. Who is going to be their starting quarterback in 2020?

For the past 20 seasons, the team hasn't really had questions at the position. It has always been Tom Brady's job. But with the 42-year-old set to hit free agency, the Patriots can't necessarily count on him returning unless they want to pay him what he's worth.

So, now the question for the Patriots becomes, what will life look like if Brady departs?

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On the latest episode of The Next Pats Podcast, which returns for its first episode of the 2020 offseason, Phil Perry is here to explore that question. And really what it all boils down to is what the Patriots are looking for in a potential successor.

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As Perry notes, it's likely to be one of two types of quarterback: The traditional pocket passer or a more mobile athlete in the mold of some of the recent success stories at the position.

Do the Patriots look for the next Brady? Uber-accurate, somebody who's going to sit in the pocket and absolutely dissect every little aspect of the defense that he is looking at. Or, do they go a different route? Do they go with an athlete? Do they get more mobile? Because talking to people this offseason, I'm getting a whiff -- I'm getting a scent that people believe the pocket passer might be dead.

Perry is joined by guests including Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo, Greg Cosell of ESPN and NFL Films, and NFL Network's Kurt Warner to answer questions about Brady's future and what his game has looked like in recent seasons.

For more thoughts about the Patriots offseason, check out the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast, available as part of the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network.

David Ortiz says leaving Patriots wouldn't impact Tom Brady's legacy

David Ortiz says leaving Patriots wouldn't impact Tom Brady's legacy

Over the past 20 years, Tom Brady has established himself as one of the greatest and most beloved athletes in Boston sports history.

But if Brady leaves New England for a new team in free agency this offseason, would that leave a stain on his Patriots legacy? Fellow Boston sports legend David Ortiz doesn't believe so.

The former Red Sox slugger recently spoke with Rob Bradford of WEEI.com about Brady's impending free agency. According to Ortiz, leaving Foxboro behind ahead of his age-43 season won't take away from anything Brady has accomplished with the Pats in the past two decades.

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"His legacy has already been built. It’s always there," Ortiz told Bradford. "That’s not the problem. His problem is not going to be legacy. He could go and play somewhere else for the next 10 years when he returns to New England his legacy is going to be there.

"It’s a good thing to do but you also have to look at your options. I hope he stays with the Patriots, but it’s not up to what I say. It’s his decision. Sometimes an offer at home might be a couple of million less than what you could get on the road. It’s up to you whether you think it’s worth it."

Brady will officially become an unrestricted free agent if he and Patriots don't agree to a contract extension by March 18. Several teams are expected to be in the mix to sign the six-time Super Bowl champion, with the Tennessee Titans and Las Vegas Raiders as two of the most likely destinations.

Listen and subscribe to Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast here: