Patriots Draft: A New Visitor

Not just standing around... or are they?

The New England Patriots may not be doing much in terms of signing free agents, but they haven't been just standing around. Scouts have been to pro days around the country sizing up prospects, conducting interviews and preparing for Draft weekend in April. This is the time of the year when a number of prospects can make visits to teams. New England has one prospect scheduled for a visit. He's the type of player who could fill a pretty big need for the team said one league expert.

Patriots Insider has learned that the Patriots will host a defensive back at the facility shortly.

Scout.com has confirmed Fresno State CB Richard Marshall has a visit with the New England Patriots coming up. Marshall was reported to be on the Patriots radar by Patriots Insider in mid February just prior to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. At the time, sources confirmed that New England had been spending a lot of time with the Fresno State product.

The Patriots are looking at adding healthy bodies to their secondary, and the NFL Draft is where they have had their most recent success. If the 2004-05 seasons have taught the staff anything, it's that there can't be enough depth on the roster at the position.


Richard Marshall, DB Fresno State.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Marshall is ranked by scout.com as the sixth-best cornerback in the draft, behind notable names such as Kelly Jennings (Miami), Tye Hill (Clemson) and Alan Zemaitis (Penn State). He is projected to go early in the Draft, most likely on the first day.

"Right now, Richard is in a position where he is expected to go on the first day of the draft and he believes he's ready to start making a living in the NFL." Said Fresno State head coach Pat Hill. "I can't argue with that."

As the Bulldogs leading tackler (78) in 2005, he was selected to the second-team All-WAC. He also made it in 2004. Marshall displayed his ball hawk abilities setting the career record for interception return yard average, (33.9) in 9 career interceptions. Marshall finished his Bulldog career with 176 tackles, 5 tackles for losses, 3 fumble recoveries and 22 passes broken up.

Aside from speaking with Jennings at the Senior Bowl, and checking out Hill and others at the Combine, New England scouts are visiting and speaking with players during their pro days. Fresno State's pro day was on the 13th, where according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, there were 26 scouts in attendance with 50 staffers including position coaches from the Browns and the Buccaneers.

Marshall ran the 40 in 4.47 and 4.45, showing off his leaping ability with a 38½-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-5 long jump. He turned in times of 4.37 in the short shuttle and 11.32 in the long shuttle. He also managed to turn in 13 bench presses, not bad for a DB.

So why are the Patriots so interested in Marshall and not other DBs? It could be because of the connection New England has with the Fresno State head coach Pat Hill.

Belichick and Hill coached together previously in Cleveland. Belichick consults with his friends about prospects, heeding their advice. In Hill's case that was never more evident when it comes to Hills' own players. Last season the Patriots drafted two of Hill's former players OL Logan Mankins and S James Sanders ahead of where many experts picked them to be drafted. Both became starters by the end of the season. Both made significant contributions right away. It's fair to believe if Hill tells Belichick one of his players is worth being drafted, the Patriots head coach will listen.

Marshall's Scouting report:

Positive: Fast, explosive cornerback slowly developing a complete game. Flashes on the scene, runs with opponents anywhere on the field and likes to mix it up. Fluid transitioning off the line and constantly positions itself to make a play on the ball.

Negative: Possesses average instincts and does a bit of face guarding.

Analysis: A terrific prospect with a good amount of upside potential, Marshall is slowly turning into one of the better cornerback prospects in the nation.

Other moves:

New England has made some moves to upgrade the secondary, although nothing significant to this point. The team has re-signed safety Artrell Hawkins and cornerback Hank Poteat to new contracts. Journeymen Chad Scott and Michael Stone, who joined the team last year, have become free agents able to sign elsewhere. The Patriots also released oft-maligned cornerback Duane Starks who had a disappointing season with the club.

The team expects Randall Gay, and Guss Scott to return after injuries cut short their 2005 campaigns. Scott may be less likely after suffering yet another leg injury. He has missed time in his first two seasons due to injuries, which is an issue that may force the team to find another body in case he is unable to return.

Related: Marshall's Profile || Scouting the Cornerbacks || Combine Numbers || CB Draft Rankings || Official Bio

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