The Patriots remain busy on the Pro Day circuit with the NFL Draft just over a month away. Last week, the team sent a large contingency to Georgia, which has one of the largest draft classes in the nation. On Thursday, the attention was a little further north at another blue blood college football program.
Thursday was one of the busiest days of the Pro Day schedule this year, with 10 schools holding workouts. The most notable school on that list is Penn State, where the Patriots had representatives in attendance.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, Patriots assistant coach Ross Douglas wasn’t just present for the workouts in State College, but he took a leading role. Giardi shared that Douglas was “helping to run wide receiver drills” during workouts.
Sep 4, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) scores a touchdown after catching a pass during the third quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Douglas, who is in his second year with the Patriots, is listed as a defensive coach, is in his second year with the Patriots. He played collegiately at Michigan as a running back, before transferring to Rutgers and moving to linebacker. Douglas stayed at Rutgers as a defensive GA, then moved on to Richmond where he was the cornerbacks coach. That experience working in the secondary could give him a unique view when scouting wide receivers.
This isn’t the first time Douglas has taken an apparent hands-on role when it comes to looking at receivers in this draft class. At the Georgia workout last week, he was spotted trailing projected top-50 receiver George Pickens during workouts.
So who was Douglas at Penn State to see? The Nittany Lions have one receiver expected to be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft in Jahan Dotson. Dotson is currently a projected top 50 pick with the positional versatility the Patriots tend to look for at the position. On top of that, he has big-play potential as a vertical route runner.
While multiple facets of Dotson’s game make him a great fit for the Patriots, his potential selection would prove to be somewhat of a historical outlier. The Patriots have drafted just one player from Penn State in the entire Bill Belichick era – offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger in the fourth round in 2009.
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 06: Jahan Dotson #5 of the Penn State Nittany Lions scores a touchdown in the third quarter against Jakorian Bennett #2 of the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium on November 06, 2021 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
There’s one other receiver working out at the Penn State Pro Day, Benjamin Wilson. However, Wilson is only a wide receiver by title and has played a primarily special teams role for the Nittany Lions since transferring from Penn State Fayette – where he was a basketball player – in 2019. He’s projected to go undrafted.
Other notable prospects taking part in the Penn State Pro Day included edge rushers Jesse Luketa and Arnold Ebiketie, and safety Jaquan Brisker.
Dotson isn’t the only top wide receiver the Patriots have taken a closer look at in the pre-draft process. They’ve met with a number of players from the top of the board, at receiver and other positions as well.
2022 Patriots pre-draft meeting tracker
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