Patriots to meet with two Arizona State defensive players

Dec 11, 2020; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Chase Lucas (24) against the Arizona Wildcats during the Territorial Cup at Arizona Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As part of their pre-draft meeting schedule this week, the Patriots will be heading to the desert. This week, they’ll be meeting with Arizona State cornerback Chase Lucas and linebacker Darien Butlerper NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. According to NFL Network’s Mike Giardithose meetings will take place in Arizona, meaning they do not qualify as Top-30 visits.

Lucas was a four-year starter for the Sun Devils, with his 49 total starts ranking second in program history. In that time, Lucas was asked to do a lot for the Arizona State secondary. He played both inside and in the slot, and features in a number of different coverage both man and zone and in press and off the line. Against the run, he’s a strong tackler who isn’t afraid to come up to the line of scrimmage and make a hit. While not as big (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) or dominant as some other cornerbacks in this draft, his instincts and football IQ will help him with his positioning.

With all that experience, both in terms of the number of games and the variety of roles he’s played, he’s a logical target for a Patriots team that needs depth in the secondary. He’s currently projected to go around the middle of Day 3.

Butler was also a multi-year starter for the Sun Devils, and a three-time team captain. At 5-foot-10, 221 pounds, the Patriots may view Butler as a pure coverage linebacker or even a box safety within their system. He made strides in both man and zone coverage over the last two seasons, and had three pass breakups in 10 games in 2021. Butler is currently projected to go undrafted.

Lucas and Butler are the second and third Arizona State players to meet with the Patriots during this year’s pre-draft process. They also hosted cornerback Jack Jones for a Top-30 visit last week.

Over the past few years, the Patriots have repeatedly revisited the Sun Devils program. After drafting JR Redmond in the third round in 2000, Bill Belichick didn’t take another player out of Arizona State until 2016. Since then, the Patriots have drafted three Sun Devils in six years – wide receiver Devin Lucien in the sixth round in 2016 , linebacker Christian Sam in 2018, and wide receiver N’Keal Harry in 2019. They also signed running back DJ Foster as a UDFA in 2016.

Since 2018, Arizona State has been led by former Jets and Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards. Edwards coached in the NFL from 1992-2008, so it would make sense to thing he runs the program in a more NFL style than some career college coaches would. That’s something that Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff may factor in when it comes to considering how players will handle the jump to the next level.

Of course, the three Arizona State players the Patriots have met with account for just a fraction of their total pre-draft meetings. Here’s a full list of all the players we know they’ve met with so far…

2022 Patriots pre-draft meeting tracker

NEXT: NFL Mock Draft 2.0

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