INDIANAPOLIS -- The first two days of the NFL Combine have been offensive-minded.
On Thursday, the focus was on the offensive linemen. On Friday, the skill-position players were in the spotlight as they made their way into the media center.
From a Patriots perspective, when looking at their early-round draft choices, the primary questions that came to mind over the first two days of the Combine were:
1. Would the team consider Alabama running back Mark Ingram if he's on the board at 17? With more pressing holes to fill on defense, this would be a pick where the team felt the value was too good to pass up. The idea would be that the No. 1 running back gets the nod over, say, the No. 4-5 defensive end. Then the team could address defensive needs later. I think this scenario is a longshot at this point.
2. Is it time to add blue-chip talent to the interior offensive line? Over the last five years, the Patriots have used a first-, second- or third-round pick on an offensive lineman just once (Sebastian Vollmer, second round, 2009). That has given the line a bit of an older look. Florida's Mike Pouncey is the top-rated interior lineman and he strikes me as the type of player who will impress teams in the interview process. He looked very comfortable. Baylor guard Danny Watkins should also impress teams in that aspect. Simply based on how they presented themselves in these media sessions, it wouldn't surprise me if both players are on the Patriots' radar early.
3. Where is the value in the receiver class? I don't envision the Patriots using a first-round draft choice on a receiver. Georgia's A.J. Green will be long gone and I don't see the Patriots moving up to the top part of the first round, which is where they'd have to be for a chance at Green, who said all the right things. Green has been working out with Alabama's Julio Jones; they are viewed as 1-2 in this year's receiver class. I don't see the Torrey Smith-to-the-Patriots connection. My general sense after Friday is that the Patriots will be focusing on the second layer at this position.
4. Which defensive prospects fit best? Now things should heat up a bit. Saturday is a time when some of the top pass rushers and defensive linemen are scheduled to come to the media center. This is the area I wanted to focus on most entering the Combine, because it's where I think the Patriots are most likely to devote their resources. NFL personnel men who held news conferences here at the Combine repeated that the strength of this draft is on the defensive line. So it's a situation where need could meet opportunity for the Patriots. "It's another good draft class, one of the best you've seen of guys who can put their hand down and get to the quarterback," said Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik.