The Patriots have sent a few telling contingents down to college Pro Days so far, and Ohio State’s workout day on Wednesday continues the trend.
According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, New England sent its offensive line and wide receivers coaches down to Columbus for a stacked Ohio State Pro Day that includes potential top-10 picks C.J. Stroud and Paris Johnson Jr. That would suggest the team is heavily considering three particular prospects in the first round especially: offensive tackles Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones (who was selected to the Patriots in WEEI’s latest mock draft) and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Center Luke Wypler might also be a consideration in Round 2, though New England doesn’t need a center with David Andrews still under contract for two more seasons.
The Patriots have previously sent defensive line coach Demarcus Covington to Clemson’s Pro Day to work out players like Bryan Bresee, Myles Murphy and K.J. Henry — the former two are both expected to be first-round picks.
Johnson Jr. and Smith-Njigba might be the two best players at their respective positions in this draft class and could both be gone by pick No. 14. If either is available, it could be hard to pass them up. Johnson Jr. could play either tackle spot for the Patriots, who need young talent at the position. Smith-Njigba, meanwhile, is just about a perfect fit as New England slot receiver — intelligent, a wizard after the catch, adept at contested catches and dominant in college against both man and zone coverage.
Jones, a behemoth at right tackle, owned edge rushers at the Senior Bowl and seems to fit the big-tackle archetype the team has looked for with players like Trent Brown and Orlando Brown Jr., whom the team pursued in free agency.
Additionally, the Patriots are also getting an early look at Marvin Harrison Jr., who is working out with Stroud and Company and is a likely top-10 pick in next year’s draft. Hopefully they’re not in a position where they could draft him, though.
For now, officially put Johnson Jr., Jones and Smith-Njigba on your watchlist for potential Patriots first-round picks next month.