It’s March 1st. NFL free agency is just over two weeks away, and the 2021 NFL Draft is now less than two months away. Player movement is at hand, and the Patriots have been connecting with prospects aplenty who could fill some of their many needs on both sides of the ball. Unlike in years past where teams could hold in-person meetings all over the place (pro days, combine, private), this season a majority of the pre-draft interviews are taking place virtually. And it’s likely Foxboro football fans will love who the Pats just chatted up.
According to Justin Melo of The Draft Network, the Pats were one of eight teams to speak with Auburn speedster Anthony Schwartz. Stress BURN in the former track star Tiger, as Schwartz is considered the fastest player in college football. Another thing Schwartz doesn’t lack is confidence, as he believed he would’ve broken John Ross’s 40 yard dash record of 4.22 seconds set at the 2017 combine. Speed is something the Patriots are desperate for on the outside, obviously, and Schwartz could be the answer.
He’s also interviewed with several other teams, including the Steelers, who seem to have a cheat code on selecting prolific pro receivers. And before you say “Pump the brakes! This guy could just end up being Bethel Johnson 2.0.," allow yourself to imagine what someone with speed and moves like this could do for a sluggish Patriots offense.
Tempting, to say the least. Schwartz, expected to go in the Day 2-3 range, also was the 2020 collegiate leader in yards after catch. Need we say more?
The Patriots have also met virtually with a number of other players at a variety of positions recently, including Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson, which could indicate they’re making a contingency draft plan should they lose third down back James White in free agency. Other recent virtual meetings of note include a Senior Bowl standout corner from Oregon and another tantalizing tight end prospect from Florida.
While teams meet with dozens of players who ultimately land on other teams, one thing’s for sure; the Patriots seem to be doing their digital due diligence across both sides of the formation in this, arguably the most important offseason of Bill Belichick’s coaching career.
The NFL Draft begins April 29th, and to most Pats fans can’t come soon enough.