Patriots

Bill Belichick joined old friends at Alabama’s pro day

Bill Belichick
Former Tennessee coach Butch Jones, left, talks with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, right, during Alabama's pro day. Brynn Anderson / AP

Bill Belichick kicked off his offseason scouting tour with a trip to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday. The University of Alabama’s pro day was an opportunity for Belichick to take a look at some of the top prospects in the nation while also catching up with a few familiar faces.

The New England head coach caught up with Alabama’s Nick Saban, new Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia (his former defensive coordinator) and new Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel (a former Patriots linebacker). Bob Quinn, who spent years at pro days for Belichick as a Patriots scout before becoming the Lions’ general manager, was also in attendance.

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Belichick’s well-documented friendship with Saban goes back to the early ’80s at the Naval Academy, but he had business reasons for being in Alabama. The Tide have three players projected to go in the first round: defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, linebacker Rashaan Evans, and receiver Calvin Ridley.

The Patriots, who hold the 31st overall pick in April’s draft, have picked up cornerback Cyrus Jones and linebacker Dont’a Hightower from ‘Bama in recent years.

Former Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema accompanied Belichick to Tuscaloosa. Bielema also represented the Patriots at the combine in Indianapolis, according to NESN’s Doug Kyed.