Draft: Patriots Interested In Another TE?

The Patriots have a unique connection to Notre Dame -- head coach Charlie Weis. Weis managed the Patriots offense for years, helping them win the Super Bowl. One thing Weis valued was big, powerful tight ends, and that continued at Notre Dame. The Patriots looked at ND's Anthony Fasano last year. It looks like they are interested in another ND TE this year also.

A bout of food poisoning cost former Notre Dame tight end John Carlson 17 pounds and the opportunity to showcase his skills to NFL franchises in this past January's Senior Bowl. The Irish's top pass catcher this past season wasn't fully recovered for last month's NFL combine, resulting in a less than impressive performance, slow 40 time, and perhaps a floundering draft stock.

Carlson, who said he doesn't pay attention to where his name is showing up on draft boards in the media, (which is anywhere from the 1st round to 3rd round in most respectable mock drafts), looked to put the whole food poisoning thing behind him on Wednesday.

Carlson runs with the ball against North Carolina.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

At Notre Dame's pro Cay inside the Loftus Center, the 6-foot-6, 251-pound Carlson needed to run a solid 40-yard dash time, and that's what he did. He helped himself in front of 31 scouts from 23 different NFL teams.

Carlson clocked times of 4.67 seconds and 4.72.

"I was much more pleased with that, than the 4.89 that I ran at the Combine," Carlson said.

Carlson was asked to work out the longest for the scouts in attendance, who were also there to see defensive end Trevor Laws, safety Tom Zbikowski, center John Sullivan, linebacker Joe Brockington, defensive end Dwight Stephenson Jr., running back Travis Thomas and long snapper J.J. Jansen. Carlson caught 30 passes from Irish quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus, bobbling just one but hauling in all of them. He also did line blocking drills with Sullivan.

"I knew today was really important," Carlson said. "Because I was sick I didn't play in the Senior Bowl. I didn't perform as well as I wanted to at the Combine. This was kind of my third and last chance to show people what I can do in this type of setting. So I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I also viewed it as an opportunity. I felt fortunate to have today as kind of a second chance."

Carlson also bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times. He had a vertical jump of 35.5 inches. At the NFL Combine, it was just 30.5.

Often considered the top tight end in the draft heading into the Senior Bowl, Carlson is hoping to hear his name called on April 26th before USC's Fred Davis, Texas A&M's Martellus Bennett, Purdue's Dustin Keller and Tennessee's Brad Cottam. His pro day appears to have gone a long way towards that.

""I think some people are really interested in taking him high," Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis said. "What happened is you go to the Combine, you come back from being sick, he runs a (4.89). Now all of a sudden people are saying he's a third-round draft choice.

"Now all of a sudden you go through that workout, now all of a sudden he goes back up to the top of the board at the tight end position because now all of a sudden you run between a 4.67 and a 4.72 and you look like him, that's the reason that workout got extended. Being an old pro coach, I can tell you that the reason you work them out more is because you become more interested as the drill goes on. Not because you become less interested."

Carlson finished his Notre Dame career with 100 receptions for 1,093 yards and eight touchdowns. His 100 catches rank second all-time in program history. He credited tight ends coach Bernie Parmalee, his agent and Anthony Fasano for getting him ready.

Associated Press writer Tom Coyne represented the media at ND's pro day. For great year-round coverage of Notre Dame sports, visit Irish Eyes.

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