The NFL combine
The combine will take place Feb. 20-26. The Patriots will join the rest of the NFL community to gauge the talent of the top players coming out of the college ranks.
But the Patriots will do their due diligence outside of the event. At pro days around the country and in private visits, the team will strategically send staff to examine players that could prove to be steals both in the draft and in the days afterward. It's a lengthy process that encompasses much of the latter portion of February and extends through April.