2020 NFL Combine

Patriots prototypes pop at NFL Scouting Combine

Patriots prototypes pop at NFL Scouting Combine

We haven't yet laid out our annual Prototypical Patriots series leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft, but last week's scouting combine put a number of players on our radar as fits in New England.

As a reminder, our series takes into account height, weight, athletic testing numbers, on-field production, off-field reputation and college program in determining who looks like a "prototype" when compared to what Bill Belichick has drafted over the last two decades.  

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Some names are very clearly going to be "prototypes" without much research. The speed demon from AlabamaThe lineman from Georgia.

But here we'll focus in on the measurements and testing portions of the formula, hitting you with one name per position that landed on our radar after a week of workouts in Indy.

Click here for the gallery.

Xavier McKinney on NFL Combine meeting with Patriots: 'It was a little tough, a little awkward'

Xavier McKinney on NFL Combine meeting with Patriots: 'It was a little tough, a little awkward'

The New England Patriots have been the subject of many NFL Combine meeting stories over the years. And 2020 has been no different.

Notably, the team told one tight end prospect that he had a "loser's mentality" at one point in their interview. They also asked one of the quarterback prospects how he would feel to replace Tom Brady. And an LSU tight end said that he was "kinda scared" in his meeting with the team.

Some haven't minded the meetings. And one Clemson Tiger actually "felt comfortable" talking to the Patriots.

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Still, the same can't be said of former Alabama safety Xavier McKinney. 

McKinney had a formal meeting with the Patriots at the combine and he called his interview with New England "tough" and "awkward".

"That was one of the harder meetings that I had. It was a little tough, a little awkward," McKinney said, per Nora Princiotti of The Boston Globe. "But Vinnie Sunseri was in there so it just made me a little more comfortable just knowing that I’ve been in the room with him plenty of other times. It was a good meeting though."

Sunseri joined the Patriots coaching staff this offseason but the former Alabama safety had previously served as a graduate assistant with Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban before. So, he had a connection with McKinney, which eased his nerves a bit.

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But McKinney said he just felt "uncertain" about the meeting coming out of it.

"Just towards the end, I wasn’t sure if they enjoyed the meeting or if I did well," McKinney said. "You kind of walk out of these meetings kind of uncertain sometimes. But I think that’s just how it goes. You just try to do the best you can."

McKinney has a good point and players often are unsure about what teams think of them. That's by design. Some teams really don't like to tip their hand in the lead-up to the draft, and the Patriots are certainly among those that keep their intentions close to the vest. 

So, it's well within the realm of possibility that the team liked McKinney. They just may not want him to realize that right away.

McKinney had 95 tackles, three sacks, and three interceptions in his final season at Alabama. He's expected to be one of the first safeties off the board and our own Phil Perry mocked him to the Patriots in his first NFL mock draft of the offseason in January.

K.J. Hill's recap of meeting with Patriots included interesting coaching nugget

K.J. Hill's recap of meeting with Patriots included interesting coaching nugget

It's sometimes interesting to hear what players talk about when they meet with teams at the NFL Scouting Combine.

In K.J. Hill's case, what's interesting was who he talked to.

The Ohio State wide receiver prospect recently met with the Patriots and apparently had a productive conversation with the team.

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"It went well," Hill said, via NESN.com's Zack Cox. "Mainly, we were talking about plays. I did a lot of similar things [to] their offense, and they were just trying to pick my brain about what we did. And come to find out, it was mostly the same plays.

" …[We talked about] motioning, seeing if it was man or zone, using option routes — definitely what (Julian) Edelman was doing. I was talking to the receivers coach about that."

According to our Phil Perry, the "receivers coach" Hill referred to was Troy Brown, who's not listed on New England's coaching staff but helped the Patriots' wide receivers in an unofficial capacity last season.

New England has been without a wide receivers coach since Joe Judge took the New York Giants' head coach job, but if Brown is interviewing receiver prospects at the NFL Combine (who think he's the team's receivers coach), does that mean he's in line to succeed Judge?

That's speculation, but Brown seems well-suited for the role. The three-time Super Bowl champion -- who spent his entire 15-year playing career in New England -- was a presence at Patriots training camp last year and worked closely with rookie wideout N'Keal Harry.

Recently-hired assistant Jedd Fisch (whose role is still unclear) also could be a candidate for Patriots wide receivers coach: He worked with the Denver Broncos' wide receivers in 2008 and the Michigan Wolverines' receivers in 2015 and 2016 and most recently served as the Los Angeles Rams' assistant offensive coordinator.

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