Sunday 7: Patriots’ early exit in playoffs turning into more of a positive for NFL Draft

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By WEEI 93.7

1. Losing to the Titans on Wild Card Weekend allowed the Patriots to get the No. 23 overall pick in the NFL Draft, which is much higher than in recent years, and it also gave the organization a head start on getting to know the draft prospects. And with pro days and top-30 visits getting canceled due to COVID-19, that extra time in January should come in handy this month when it comes to actually selecting players in the draft. Normally, the Patriots really wouldn’t have had much of a representation at the Senior Bowl, but this year a number of coaches, including Bill Belichick, attended and were able to meet with some of the players. The Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine were really the only opportunity to truly get to know draft prospects this year and because of the early playoff exit, the Patriots were able to fully take advantage of those opportunities. Yes, teams are having video conferences with players now, but nothing tops an in-person meeting. In years the Patriots have gone deep into the playoffs, even their presence at the combine is impacted with the organization trying to get coaches some time off after a long season. Given the circumstances, the Patriots will be as prepared as they can be.

2. Appearing on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria Friday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter continued to try and push the narrative that Tom Brady had more of a market than what was actually reported. It seems like in the end, Brady only had two teams interested in his services — the Buccaneers and Chargers. "There were a lot of teams that went through the conversation of if and when Tom Brady does hit the market, do we make a move," Schefter said. "There were teams out there that had that conversation that you’d be surprised to hear. It wasn’t just a few teams." He added: “The number was bigger than people realize." While Schefter and others continue to push that narrative, it’s just hard to believe given so many teams seemingly passing up the chance to sign Brady and the 42-year-old ultimately signing with Tampa Bay.

3. One note on Brady living in the mansion Derek Jeter built in Tampa Bay, specifically on Davis Islands, he won’t have the same privacy he did at his Brookline estate. There is no security or anything like that, so the general public can drive or walk past his home. Tampa Bay isn’t anything like Boston, but it still will be something Brady will have to adjust to. For what it’s worth, his commute to the Buccaneers’ facility is roughly 20 minutes.

4. Also in his OMF appearance, Schefter said he does not believe the NFL Draft should go on as scheduled April 23-25. He believes it should be pushed back a month or two. Why? Almost every other company in America is adjusting to the times by doing things remotely, and the NFL is no different in this case, just like it wasn't with free agency. No social distancing rules are being broken and everyone is staying safe, so why should it be pushed back? Every team is working with the same set of circumstances and will make do. Also, it will give the country a much needed diversion, just like what happened during the week of free agency.

5. When it comes to who the Patriots could be targeting at No. 23 overall, it really could go in so many different directions, perhaps more than any recent year. Safety, linebacker, edge, defensive line, offensive line and wide receiver would all make sense. In recent mock drafts, there have been a lot of edge players and linebackers going to New England.

6. It has been acknowledged nationwide, but it is worth pointing out once again the tremendous work that went into the Patriots’ team plane bringing over a million medical masks to the United States from China, which were distributed to Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. Led by Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker, it took two other governors, an ambassador and the Patriots organization coming together to make it happen. It truly shows the impact sports can have in situations such as these. “This probably was the most challenging operation our organization and team ever had to do,” Robert Kraft said on CNN Thursday night.

7. Normally, the NFL regular season schedule would be released in the coming days and weeks, but that will not happen due to COVID-19 pandemic. The league said last week the schedule would be released no later than May 9. It will be the full 16 games, but it could potentially be back loaded with division games in case the season starts late and only 12 or 14 games were to be played. That would make sense since division games mean the most when it comes to the standings.