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Bill Belichick: Former OL coach Dante Scarnecchia did ‘great job’ assisting in pre-draft evaluation process 05.04.15 at 11:41 am ET
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Even though he retired after the 2013 season, Dante Scarnecchia played a big role in helping the Patriots prepare for the 2015 draft. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Even though he retired after the 2013 season, Dante Scarnecchia played a big role in helping the Patriots prepare for the 2015 draft. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Over the course of the spring, former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia popped up along the way at several pro days, working out prospects at Florida State, South Carolina and Duke.

Shortly after the draft concluded, Patriots coach Bill Belichick talked about Scarnecchia’s unique level of involvement in the run-up to this year’s draft — as the Patriots played all the way into February and the coaching staff had its attention elsewhere (or on other matters through March and April), the trusted Scarnecchia was able to serve as an extra set of eyes through some key dates in the pre-draft process.

“Given the way our season went this year — the length of it and the offseason schedule and so forth — he was able to help us out and go do a few things for us in the draft process that were very helpful,” Belichick said of Scarnecchia, who retired shortly after the 2013 season.

“He did a great job. He obviously has a lot of experience with our system, a lot of experience with players that are on our roster for comparison sake, players that we’ve drafted or evaluated in the past. So we kind of asked him to help us out in a situation where we were kind of, I’d say a little bit from a personnel standpoint, a little bit behind the curve there. He was available and he did a great job.”

You could certainly argue that Scarnecchia input had something to do with the selection of Florida State offensive lineman Tre Jackson in the fourth round — Scarnecchia was present at FSU’s pro day, and he maintains a deep and abiding friendship with Seminoles offensive line coach Rick Trickett.

Shortly after he was selected, Jackson talked about the chance to work with Scarnecchia at his pro day.

“Well, he just came down for practices and things like that — to watch practices,” Jackson said of Scarnecchia. “He’s a great coach; he was a great coach. Just being able to get advice from him was a great opportunity.

“He was telling me to continue to work hard and that the coach that I had in Coach Trickett was a great coach. Coach Trickett was coaching the techniques and stuff that he was coaching. (Just) continue to believe and trust in the techniques, take them to the field and continue to work hard.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Dante Scarnecchia, Tre Jackson,
Nick Caserio: Dante Scarnecchia has been ‘great resource’ when it comes to pre-draft evaluation 04.22.15 at 3:08 pm ET
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Dante Scarnecchia has been spotted at pro days at Florida State, South Carolina and Florida this spring. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has been spotted at pro days at Florida State, South Carolina, Duke and Florida this spring. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — When it comes to the pre-draft process, it’s all hands on deck.

At least that’s the way that Patriots personnel chief Nick Caserio looks at it. Coaches and scouts are all part of the process when it comes to pre-draft evaluation. That means ex-coaches as well, including former offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia — even though Scarnecchia abruptly retired after the 2013 season.

Scarnecchia has been a ubiquitous presence on the pre-draft radar, showing up at several pro days over the course of the last two months while working out prospects at Florida State, South Carolina, Florida and Duke. Caserio said that when it comes to Scarnecchia, it’s not out of the ordinary to have him involved in the process.

“I would say that there’s a lot of people that have been involved in the process this time of the year,” Caserio said Wednesday when asked about Scarnecchia’s involvement with the team this spring. “Every coach in the building has worked out players. I would say that there’s a number of people in the personnel department that have worked out players.

“Dante has a lot of experience in our system. He’s a great resource. He’s been a great resource for us. It’s something that we decided that might be helpful to us in the entire process. Dante has a lot of experience in our system, and he has a lot of insight. I’d say it’s kind of worked out,” Caserio added. “We can’t cover everybody. We’re trying to take our resources and allocate our resources the best we can to try to get as much information as possible on a player however we can do it.”

Read More: Dante Scarnecchia, Nick Caserio,
Ex-Pats OL coach Dante Scarnecchia works out Duke G Laken Tomlinson 04.14.15 at 4:03 pm ET
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Laken Tomlinson (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Laken Tomlinson (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Former Patriots assistant Dante Scarnecchia was a ubiquitous presence on the pro day circuit this spring, working out offensive linemen at Georgia Tech, Florida State and South Carolina. Now comes word that New England’€™s ex-offensive line coach was at Duke earlier this spring getting a good look at Blue Devils offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson.

Duke held its pro day on March 25, and while no one apparently spotted Scarnecchia at the time, he was on the grounds, working with Tomlinson — who is expected to be one of the first guards taken in the draft. In a pre-draft diary with Chicagofootball.com, Tomlinson writes that he spent time with Scarnecchia and Pittsburgh assistant Shaun Sarrett.

I did offensive line work with Coach [Dante] Scarnecchia of the Patriots and Coach [Shaun] Sarrett of the Steelers. They had us working for a while. It was good work, but we were out there for what seemed like forever. It was tough, but I felt like I did well in every drill. I felt like I could listen and follow the instructions of the coaches. I had a lot of fun out there. Overall, it was a great experience.

Tomlinson is a 6-foot-3, 330-pounder who achieved several honors while at Duke. He was a member of the 2014 AP All-America first team, as well as the 2014 All-ACC first team. He was also a 2014 team captain and a 2013 All-ACC second teamer. Many consider him a possibility to be taken between the mid-first and late-second rounds.

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, Dante Scarnecchia, Laken Tomlinson,
Dante Scarnecchia shows up at Florida pro day 04.07.15 at 1:17 pm ET
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Dante Scarnecchia has been spotted at pro days at Florida State, South Carolina and Florida. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Dante Scarnecchia has been spotted at pro days at Florida State, South Carolina and Florida. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

There are position coaches who are in the NFL right now who aren’t as active as Dante Scarnecchia.

The former Patriots offensive line coach was spotted Tuesday morning at Florida pro day, putting some of the Gators’ offensive line prospects through their paces. Scarnecchia, who was spotted at South Carolina and Florida State pro days last week, is apparently continuing to work in an advisory role for the franchise.

Florida has been a longtime favorite of the Patriots, but those numbers have diminished the last few seasons, as Urban Meyer — a longtime friend of Bill Belichick — has moved on to Ohio State. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few offensive linemen for Scarnecchia to take a look at, including D.J. Humphries, an offensive tackle who is considered a late first-round talent, despite the fact that he’s decided to forego his senior season and enter the draft. (In our latest mock draft, we have Humphries going 25th overall to the Panthers.)

There are some health concerns about Humphries, but when he’s been healthy, he’s been impressive. A 6-foot-5, 307-pounder, he played in 29 career games with 19 starts at Florida. In 2013, he played in seven games while starting six, but missed the final five games with a sprained MCL, and in 2014, he missed two more games because of injury.

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, D.J. Humphries, Dante Scarnecchia,
5 things we learned at NFL combine from Patriots perspective 02.23.15 at 6:58 pm ET
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Things were relatively quiet for the Patriots at the NFL combine this week. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Things were relatively quiet for the Patriots at the NFL combine this week. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The 2015 NFL combine wrapped up in Indianapolis on Monday, and here are five things we learned, mostly from a Patriots perspective:

1. Deflategate won’t go away

Sadly, the whole Deflategate situation didn’t go away at the combine, it just got talked about even more after a few quiet weeks following the Super Bowl. The big development was Colts general manager Ryan Grigson saying the Colts notified the NFL of suspicions they had of the Patriots the week leading up to AFC championship game. Going by Grigson, the NFL was aware of the Patriots potentially using under inflated footballs, and the NFL didn’t do anything about it until halftime. Also coming up last week was the revelation of an NFL employee being fired as part of a memorabilia sting — stealing game balls for himself that were intended for charity. It seems this story will not die until the Ted Wells investigation is completed, and even then there may be more to this story. It’s also worth noting the Patriots will play the Colts in Indianapolis next season.

2. Another offensive lineman?

Joining Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio and the rest of the staff at the combine was former offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who for a second straight season has assisted the Patriots leading up to the draft. It’s possible the Patriots have plans to select another offensive lineman, as last season they drafted two — Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming — with Scarnecchia’s input. His presence in Indianapolis this week conducting interviews with players may suggest the team has plans to select another one, especially on the interior given how much longer Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell have with the team. Scarnecchia has long-lasting relationship with Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, helping draft Stork last season, and the Seminoles have a few other strong offensive line prospects this season as well, so it’s possible a Florida State-New England pipeline has been started.

3. Pats stay quiet

This wasn’t much of a surprise, but no members of the Patriots organization held formal press conferences, like most other teams. Belichick almost never speaks at the combine, although he did in 2014, so this isn’t exactly an earth-shattering development. Belichick did make headlines when he walked into the combine on Friday with Rex Ryan. Ryan had a throwback Thurman Thomas jersey on, while Belichick wore a hoodie for his foundation. Caserio did give a 1-on-1 interview with Patriots.com, where he talked about free agency and with the reality of the NFL, the Patriots will be a different team next year.

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Read More: 2015 NFL combine, Bill Belichick, Dante Scarnecchia, Jameis Winston
Sunday NFL Notes: Nick Caserio looks ahead to offseason, proclaims ‘our team is going to be different’ 02.22.15 at 7:00 am ET
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Nick Caserio

Nick Caserio

With Chris Price taking a well-deserved vacation this week, we’ll keep the Sunday NFL Notes going, hoping to live up to the high standard he sets every week.

1. At the NFL combine in Indianapolis this week, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio gave a 1-on-1 interview with Jackie Brittain of Patriots.com, hitting on a number of subjects (the interview can be seen here). One of those subjects was free agency and how it relates to what happens with cornerback Darrelle Revis. “We’re going through an evaluation process,” said Caserio. “When we get back here from the combine, we’ll actually go through pretty comprehensive analysis of our roster, go through player by player, strengths, weaknesses, what we see their role as and what their future’s gonna be moving forward. Those are decisions that will be made at the appropriate time. The reality is our team is going to be different from what it was last year. That’s just a reality of the NFL and a reality that every team faces. We’ll go through, and in the end we’ll do what we feel is best for the organization moving forward.”

As it stands now, the Patriots’ top order of business is Revis and getting him signed long-term instead of paying him $20 million for 2015. Then, they have Devin McCourty and Stephen Gostkowski as free agents, with the possibility of placing the franchise tag on either of them. Also set to become free agents are running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, so when Caserio says the team is going to be different next year, he isn’t lying.

2. In addition to Caserio at the combine, the Patriots have a number of coaches and executives present in Indianapolis this week. Coach Bill Belichick is there as always, and also accompanying him are recently retired assistant coaches in special teams coach Scott O’Brien and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. O’Brien retired after this past season, but will stay in the organization, while Scarnecchia is assisting Belichick at the combine like he did last year. Also seen at the combine this week was former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, as he’s been seen helping out the Patriots and Belichick a number of times over the last year. Current Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo has also been seen helping run drills during the week.

3. There aren’t too many local players at the combine this week. Representing the New England schools are: running back Tyler Varga from Yale, wide receiver Geremy Davis from UConn, tight end Jean Stifrin from UMass, offensive lineman Andy Gallik from Boston College, defensive lineman Zach Hodges from Harvard and defensive back Bryon Jones from UConn. While none of these players are expected to go very high in the draft, getting invited to the combine is a big accomplishment in itself. Stifrin from UMass has a pretty interesting story, as he is 27 years old — much older than most of the other combine participants. MassLive.com’s Kevin Duffy did a good job going into Stifrin’s past and telling his story.

4. The Schiano-Belichick connection has led to a number of Rutgers players becoming Patriots over the past few years. That pipeline may have gotten even stronger lately, as Josh McDaniels‘ brother Ben has been named offensive coordinator at the school. So, who could be the next Rutgers player drafted by the Patriots? Tight end Tyler Kroft could be a possibility and join former Rutgers player Tim Wright as Rob Gronkowski‘s backup. Kroft is looked at as more of a receiving threat than an in-line blocking tight end, so he would be a great complement to Gronkowski, given Gronkowski’s size and Kroft’s lack there of. Kroft weighed in at 246 pounds at the combine, the 16th heaviest tight end out of the 19 attending the workouts.

5. Here are a few interesting stats we dug up following the season:

  • The Patriots were 13-0 this season when scoring 23 or more points and are 160-12 under Belichick.
  • The Patriots finished 11-0 this season when scoring first.
  • Going into the Super Bowl the Seahawks allowed an average of 6.8 points per game in the second half of games this year — the Patriots scored 14 in Super Bowl XLIX.
  • According to Elias, the Patriots were the first team to reach the Super Bowl without having a player with 100 rush attempts during the season.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Dante Scarnecchia, Darrelle Revis, Julian Edelman
Could Patriots start pipeline of selecting players from Florida State? 02.20.15 at 2:49 pm ET
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Dante Scarnecchia remains an advisor to the Patriots, even in retirement. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Dante Scarnecchia is close friends with Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Patriots struck gold last year when they selected Florida State center Bryan Stork in the fourth round.

Stork started at center in 11 games and was a key piece to the offensive line, specifically their turnaround after a rough first few weeks of the season, as Stork made his starting debut Week 4 in Kansas City.

Retired offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who has helped the Patriots out at the draft the past two years, including this year, has a long-time friendship with Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, which played a role in the Patriots selecting Stork last year.

With the Patriots potentially in need for another interior lineman this year, the Patriots could be targeting another Seminole this year.

One of those could be guard Tre Jackson, who reportedly had a meeting with Scarnecchia and the Patriots this week in Indianapolis. at the NFL combine.

Jackson said Stork was part of the Florida State offensive linemen coming together leading into their National Championship in 2014.

“I believe Bryan Stork’s last year is the year that brought us all closer together,” said Jackson to reporters at the combine this week. “We all had some adversity that we were facing, and our chemistry wasn’t as tight at the start of fall camp. Things that we went through it brought us all closer together. That bonded us and molded us into a brotherhood.”

Also reportedly meeting with the Patriots this week from Florida State was tackle Bobby Hart, another offensive lineman who the Patriots could target given their Seminole connection.

Another possible player from Florida State the Patriots could target is tight end Nick O’Leary, as a possible complement to Rob Gronkowski. O’Leary, the grandson of golfer Jack Nicklaus, is known for his great hands as he hauled in 48 passes for 618 yards and six touchdowns this past year.

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Read More: 2015 NFL combine, Bryan Stork, Dante Scarnecchia, Nick O'Leary
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