NFL rumors: Patriots had pre-draft virtual meeting with Notre Dame's Daelin Hayes

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Nick Goss
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Report: Patriots had pre-draft virtual meeting with Notre Dame's Daelin Hayes originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots have several positions on defense to address in the 2021 NFL Draft, and edge rusher is one to keep an eye on.

The Patriots didn't have a great pass rush in 2020, and their 24 sacks were the sixth-fewest in the league. Chase Winovich led the team with just 5.5 sacks. A good pass rush is about more than just sacks, though. The Patriots just don't have the ideal amount of high-end talent or depth in the front seven.

They've lost plenty of defensive linemen to free agency in recent years, and those veterans haven't been sufficiently replaced.

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One edge rusher the Patriots could have interest in is Notre Dame star Daelin Hayes. Justin Melo of The Draft Network reported Monday that New England recently had a virtual pre-draft meeting with Hayes.

Hayes played five seasons for the Fighting Irish. He tallied 16 total tackles, one pass defensed, two forced fumbles, one interception and three sacks during the 2020 season, during which Notre Dame reached the College Football Playoff and lost to Clemson in the semifinal.

The Patriots have the No. 15 overall pick in the first round of the draft. Hayes isn't going to be a target in Round 1, but he could be a solid choice in the later rounds.