Pats looked beyond combine in '09

ESPN's Len Pasquarelli writes today on some of the NFL's top players who weren't invited to the annual combine. The piece is topical with the combine getting underway Thursday in Indianapolis, and it has a strong Patriots flavor with comments from Patriots receiver Wes Welker, who was overlooked for the combine in 2004.

Pasquarelli also makes the point that the Patriots drafted four players in 2009 who weren't invited to the combine. Those players were offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer (second round, 58th overall), Rich Ohrnberger (fourth round, 123rd overall) and George Bussey (fifth round, 170th overall), and receiver Julian Edelman (seventh round, 232nd overall).

After reading Pasquarelli's piece, I thought back to Bill Belichick's press conference that wrapped up the 2009 draft and seemed to remember that there was a measure of pride that the team looked beyond the combine in rating their prospects. So I went back and read the transcript, and sure enough, it was a point that Belichick had raised unsolicited.

After recapping each of the team's selections in rounds 3-7, Belichick said: "I think it’s a little bit unusual that we ended up with all three [offensive] linemen who were non-combine guys. The fact that they weren’t at the combine and kind of the way that we evaluated them in their private workouts and so forth, I think all of them are pretty impressive, all different."