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Sunday 7: Tom Brady used as model for NFL combine participants, but not how you might think

Ryan Hannable
March 04, 2018 - 6:00 am

1. Almost everyone at the NFL combine this week knows who Tom Brady is and his story. A tall, lanky kid who didn’t get much attention at the combine turned into a sixth-round pick that no one expected much out of, but of course now is a five-time Super Bowl champion and the greatest quarterback of all-time. Everyone at the combine would like to one day be half as good as Brady, but the NFLPA wants everyone to be like Brady in something. “We just got out of a NFLPA meeting and found out some more things about him as to why you call him the greatest,” Marshall quarterback Chase Litton said on Friday. As for what exactly the NFLPA told the prospects about Brady, Litton couldn’t say, but we’re told it had a lot to do with off-field stuff, particuarly how good of a teammate Brady is to everyone and all the behind the scenes charity work he does. NFL players have a platform to make a difference and part of being in the NFL is a lot more than just being a football player on Sundays. Players came out of the meeting with a new appreciation for Brady, as not only is he a superstar on the field, he’s a superstar off the field and the NFLPA is using Brady as a model.

2. Even though the Patriots are expected to select a quarterback in this year’s draft, you may have noticed there weren’t many, if any, reports of the Patriots having formal meetings with some of the quarterback prospects in Indy this week. This makes sense though considering Josh McDaniels and much of the offensive staff didn’t attend the combine. The Patriots will have plenty of opportunities to meet with QB prospects at pro days over the next few weeks and don’t be surprised if a lot of the 30 official visits the Patriots are allowed are used on quarterbacks.

3. Bill Belichick likely has a good idea of what he’s getting with Ohio State prospects because of his relationship with defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, but also because of one of his scouting assistants. Camren Williams joined the Patriots as a scouting assistant in 2016 after playing linebacker for Ohio State and graduating in 2015. He’s from Massachusetts and went to Catholic Memorial High School. Some of the Ohio State players said they have spoken with Williams quite frequently over the course of the week. Some Ohio State defensive players to take note of are defensive ends Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard and Tyquain Lewis, inside linebacker Chris Worley and safety Damon Webb.

4. For the first time in a long time, the Patriots could select a player at seemingly any position in the first round and it wouldn’t come as a surprise. They have needs at a lot of spots and their pick could depend on which strong player falls to them, regardless of position. Both the running back class and quarterback class are said to be strong and impact players can be found in the middle rounds at both positions. Edge rushers and offensive tackles are said to be weak. If the Patriots want an impact player at either of those positions they may need to strike early.

5. Even though the NFL coaches spoke in the middle of last week, the buzz around the combine through the weekend was how impressive Matt Patricia has been. Many around the league are expecting big things from the Lions this coming season. One of the things that stood out when he spoke was how important creating and maintaining relationships is to him, and that came up when he was asked about Malcolm Butler. He said he loves him like a son and he considers all his players like sons. Patricia also wants to be his own guy. At his introductory press conference, he made sure to try and stop all the comparisons to Belichick. Patricia clearly wants to start his own legacy in the league and not always be known as the guy who worked under Belichick.

6. According to NESN.com’s Doug Kyed, former Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema was at the combine as a representative of the Patriots. The Patriots have selected a few players from Arkansas in recent years (Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise) and Belichick has seemed to have a good relationship with the coach, who was fired after this past season. We heard the two were spotted together earlier in the week, so this makes sense. It also makes sense since the two coaches have the same agent. It’s unclear at this time what kind of role he will have.

7. With a few new Patriots connections across the league, it’s worth keeping an eye on these teams for potential joint practices this coming summer before preseason games. The Patriots and Lions were supposed to do something before their game last August, but it didn’t work out. It may be too soon for Patricia to go against the Patriots, especially since they will play during the year. Another team to consider is the Titans. Even though they meet during the season as well, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Belichick want to hold joint sessions with his former linebacker Mike Vrabel and his squad.