New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Oct 3, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; UCF Knights defensive lineman Stephon Zayas (4) tries to push past Tulsa Golden Hurricane offensive tackle Chris Paul (71) during the fourth quarter of a game at Spectrum Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

  • With all of the changes to the Patriots’ coaching staff, it’s easy to forget there was a major change in the team’s front office too. Former director of player personnel Dave Ziegler left to be the new general manager of the Las Vegas Raiders, with Matt Groh taking his spot in New England.

    Director of player personnel is a key role in the NFL corporates flow chart. The job is basically an assistant GM and covers everything from internal contracts to free agency and the draft.

    Unlike Ziegler, who’s background was mainly working at the pro personnel level, Groh comes from the scouting ranks. He was reportedly heavily involved in the Patriots’ draft process last year, and there’s no reason to think that will change in 2022.

    In fact, Groh was out scouting himself this week as the Pro Day circuit began. According to Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson, Groh was in Oklahoma to watch workouts at Tulsa Thursday and Friday.

    Although Tulsa doesn’t have many players in the draft this year, those that did work out play positions of need for the Patriots. Will any of them catch Groh’s attention and end up in Foxborough this spring?

  • OT Tyler Smith

    Oct 3, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane offensive tackle Tyler Smith (56) guards during the second quarter of a game against the UCF Knights at Spectrum Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

    Smith has all of the size the Patriots look for at tackle at 6-foot-5, 324 pounds and he plays the game with a nasty edge. He’s still raw technically though and is seen as a high-ceiling, low-floor prospect. By showing positional versatility – either as a swing tackle or as a combo tackle/guard – he could increase his draft stock which projects to be a late Day 2 pick. If the Patriots are satisfied with their tackle situation for 2022 but want a long-term project player with upside, he could be a fit.

  • IOL Chris Paul

    Nov 14, 2020; Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane offensive lineman Chris Paul (71) blocks Southern Methodist Mustangs defensive back Cam Jones (2) during the game at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

    Paul is one of the more intriguing offensive line prospects on Day 3 of the draft. A Senior Bowl participant, he played both tackle and guard in college, and has the strong football IQ you’d expect from a player that moves around that much. A four-year starter, his high motor helped overshadow some of his more technical shortcomings, which will need to be fixed at the next level. Those who covered him at Tulsa also rave about him as a positive locker room presence and academic standout. Football isn’t his only passion – he also produced an EP Roads under the stage name The Seventh.

  • WR Josh Johnson

    Sep 11, 2021; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane wide receiver Josh Johnson (4) runs with the ball after a reception during the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. The Cowboys won 28-23. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

    A Iowa State transfer, Johnson had a breakout year for Tulsa in 2021 catching 82 passes for 1,087 yards and six touchdowns. That included an eight-catch, 148-yard performance against Ohio State. He didn’t run the 40 at the Combine, but is expected to be one of the faster receivers in this class and wins mostly with his speed. Johnson is currently projected to be a priority UDFA.

  • CB Travon Fuller

    Sep 18, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane cornerback Travon Fuller (2) intercepts a pass intended for Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Jeremy Ruckert (88) during the second quarter at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

    Fuller transferred to Tulsa from Texas A&M in 2021 and played a starting role for the Golden Hurricane. In 13 games he intercepted three passes – including one against Ohio State – while deflecting nine more and forcing a fumble. A bigger corner at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, he also contributed in the running game and recorded4.5 tackles for a loss. He’s currently projected to go undrafted.

  • Looking ahead

    Remember, this is just one Pro Day over the course of about a month-long stretch. There’s still a ways to go, so we’ll keep an eye out for where Groh or other Patriots’ decision makers are spotted as things move ahead. Notable Pro Days next week include Georgia (Wednesday), Clemson (Thursday), and Michigan (Friday).

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