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Bill Belichick watches Sammie Coates closely at Auburn pro day

AUBURN -- Are the New England Patriots interested in drafting Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates? They certainly had a presence at the school's pro day on Tuesday.

Bill Belichick was the only NFL head coach in attendance, and the Patriots also sent Nick Caserio, the team's director of player personnel. Coates is the only Auburn prospect considered to be a candidate for the top two rounds of the draft, but Belichick and Caserio also spent significant time -- 45 minutes, according to two team scouts on the ground -- with Auburn's three defensive linemen at the pro day: Angelo Blackson, Gabe Wright and Jeff Whitaker.

Belichick stuck fairly close to Coates during position drills and spoke to the wide receiver briefly. But true to form, the coach was mum on the substance of the conversation and declined interview requests.

Coates himself was nearly as mum.

"I jumped back and said, 'Whoa, do you know who that was?' " Coates said of his reaction upon seeing Belichick. "It was good to have him out here to watch us perform. I was excited to meet him. He just told me, 'Good job, keep working hard,' and that's all I needed. I didn't need to hear too much more than that."

Coates joked that he might track Belichick down again before he left.

"I'm thinking about going and asking to see the (Super Bowl) ring or something," he said.

Coates opted to stand on his combine numbers rather than testing again on Tuesday, although he did catch passes in positional drills in front of scouts. At 6-4 5/8 and 315 pounds, Blackson is an intriguing prospect. He improved his 40 time at the combine, running a pair of 4.97s. Wright (6-3, 296) didn't work out, and Witaker probably wished he hadn't; he ran a 5.94 40, although he had an impressive 41 reps in the bench press.

Wide receiver is among the Patriots' primary draft needs, while Coates is considered a likely second-round choice. New England's second-round pick is 64th overall.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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