BOSTON (CBS) -- It shouldn't be any surprise that the Patriots have their eyes on a number of receivers in the upcoming NFL Draft. And according to one report, they've already met with one of the best wide outs available.
The Patriots were one of the many teams to recently meet with Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown, according to NFL Network's James Palmer.
Brown hasn't received the same amount of attention as his Rebels teammate D.K. Metcalf, an absurdly athletic receiver who ranks atop many draft boards at wide out, but he put up much bigger numbers than his receiving counterpart. Brown led the SEC with 1,320 yards as a junior last year, and his 85 receptions were second only to Vanderbilt's Kalija Lipscomb's 87. Brown finished his three seasons at Ole Miss with 189 catches for 2,984 yards and 19 touchdowns over 365 games, averaging 82.9 receiving yards per contest. He earned first-team All-SEC honors in each of the last two seasons.
At 6-feet and 226 pounds, Brown is a big slot receiver who should fit right in with the Patriots' offense. Draft experts have compared him to Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, thanks to his ability to run good routes over the middle and break away from tacklers after making the catch.
While he's projected to be a late first-round, early second-round pick, there's a good chance Brown could be long gone when the Patriots' turn to pick comes up at No. 32. But if they really like the player, they could use some of their 12 total selections to move up, especially with six picks in the first three rounds.
But if you're thinking it would be unusual for Bill Belichick to draft a receiver that high in the draft, you'd be right. The highest he's ever selected a receiver was in 2006 when he took Chad Jackson out of Florida with the No. 36 overall pick. He has drafted just one receiver in the first three round since 2010, taking Aaron Dobson out of Marshall with the 52nd pick in 2013. Neither of those players worked out for New England (though Bill did hit on Deion Branch at No. 62 way back in 2002).
The Patriots could certainly use a receiver or two in the upcoming draft, with their current depth chart made up of Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Bruce Ellington, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios and Damoun Patterson. Add in the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, and the Patriots offense has some holes at pass-catcher.
Tom Brady could use a talented slot receiver in his arsenal, and it sounds like Brown would certainly fit that bill.
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