La Canfora’s Latest: Patriots, Parker, Gregory

Their four Super Bowl wins in the past 14 seasons notwithstanding, the Patriots‘ track record for drafting wideouts high hasn’t been positive. This is an area they will likely attempt to take another shot at, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.

Bill Belichick reportedly attended many pro days involving receivers this spring and grilled college coaches about various pass-catching prospects, which drew notice from other league staffs, reports La Canfora.

The Patriots have drafted six wideouts in the top three rounds since Belichick’s arrival in 2000 — although none in Round 1 — and mostly received little in return for their investments, with Aaron Dobson (second round, 2013), Taylor Price (third round, 2010) and Chad Jackson (second round, 2006) being notable examples in the past decade.

Although La Canfora mentions defensive line and cornerback as other options with the defections there this offseason, he notes the Patriots’ lack of consistency outside will lead to another early selection at the position. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have the Patriots springing for defensive line and cornerback help, respectively, in the first round. Former prized recruit Dorial Green-Beckham could be a target, however, muses La Canfora.

Also from La Canfora …

  • DeVante Parker carries a similar buzz around the scouting community that Odell Beckham did last season, and La Canfora doesn’t expect the Louisville product to fall past No. 11 (Vikings). Minnesota scouted several of Parker’s games last season and happens to employ his former quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater. La Canfora said some teams have Parker rated higher than West Virginia’s Kevin White, who has commonly been tabbed the second-best wideout prospect behind Amari Cooper.
  • A name we haven’t heard as much on heading into the draft could surprise should an early run on wideouts take place. USC’s Nelson Agholor may creep into the late first round, La Canfora said.
  • Randy Gregory‘s failed drug test is raising teams’ eyebrows, but they’re not backing off the stance that the Nebraska talent’s a top-two or top-three pass-pursuer in this class and a potential top-five pick. Washington and Chicago are organizations La Canfora believes will be in the mix for Gregory. Conversely, various concerns envelop Dante Fowler Jr., Vic Beasley and Shane Ray, the CBS pundit hears from sources.
  • Tight ends Maxx Williams and Devin Funchess are reportedly receiving bad reviews on their route-running, causing them to fall down draft boards in an already-diminished class at the position.
  • Several executives also informed La Canfora they wouldn’t take top safety Landon Collins in the first round, viewing the Alabama prospect as an “in-the-box” performer.
  • League execs apparently rate this draft poorly compared to a good year when “22 to 24” players warrant first-round grades. Per La Canfora, less than 20 are grading that way this year.
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