As of Wednesday morning, seven of the Patriots pre-draft meetings have been made public – all with wide receivers. With the two new names added to the list on Wednesday, three of those seven have been with receivers from Alabama.
On Tuesday, it was reported that the Patriots plan to meet with projected first-round pick Jameson Williams at the Combine this week. A day later, two other top pass catchers from college football’s sixth-ranked offense have said themselves they met with the Patriots – John Metchie and Slade Bolden.
Unlike Williams, who transferred to Alabama from Ohio State last year, both Metchie and Bolden played with current Patriots quarterback Mac Jones in Tuscaloosa. Speaking with the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Metchie described his relationship with Jones as “really close” and said he thinks he and Jones playing together in the NFL “would be special.” Metchie said his meeting with the Patriots went “really well.”
Bolden shared a number of Patriots connections beyond his relationship with Jones – who was his roommate in 2020. He told reporters that he and Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who was the Patriots’ play-caller from 2009-2011, used to talk with him about how Wes Welker was used in New England’s offense. Welker isn’t the only former Patriots slot receiver Bolden has had an eye on, as he said he’s watched and modeled his game after Julian Edelman.
So Metchie and Bolden are both prototypical Patriots on paper – but how would they fit into the Patriots’ offense schematically? Here’s a quick scouting report on each of them…
Metchie has the top-level speed that you expect from an Alabama receiver, and pairs that with exceptional route-running ability. Add to that he can line up just about anywhere across the offensive formation, and he becomes a true matchup nightmare. He's a big play threat lining up inside or outside, at all three levels of the field, running a route or with the ball in his hands.
Playing with Mac Jones as Alabama's second receiver in 2020 (Heisman winner DeVonta Smith was the focal point of that offense), Metchie caught 55 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games. He followed that up by leading the Tide in catches in 2021, with 96 for 1,142 yards and eight scores in 13 games.
Despite all of that, Metchie is currently projected as a Day 2 pick after tearing his ACL in the SEC Championship Game. However, he told reporters on Wednesday he expects to be cleared by June and able to participate in training camp. If true, that would be a major boost to his draft stock.
Bolden projects to be a prototypical Patriots slot receiver - get off the line, find the opening in the defense, and make the catch. He's a willing runner after the catch, who isn't afraid to go over the middle of the field or initiate contact. Like Edelman and Jakobi Meyers, he is a converted quarterback. He also has significant special teams experience.
Although they were roommates, Bolden and Jones didn't do as much on the field together in 2020. In eight games that year, Bolden caught 24 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown. He followed that up with a 42-catch, 408-yard season in 2021 with three touchdowns. He's currently projected to be a late Day 3 pick.
Expect to hear both names plenty in relation to the Patriots as the pre-draft process rolls on. In fact, we had Metchie in our first Patriots mock draft, which you can find below.
Patriots Mock Draft 1.0: Getting the offseason started
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.