The NFL Draft has come and gone and the New England Patriots have 11 new players to show for it.
There were plenty of needs going into the draft, and the Patriots addressed most of them.
The Patriots passed up on an opportunity to bring on some cornerbacks early in the draft, instead focusing on the defensive line. The hope? Get to the quarterback before he has the chance to test Patriots cornerbacks.
Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner aren’t the only key defenders New Engand lost over the offseason. They also lost defensive captain and nose tackle Vince Wilfork. That’s why the Patriots took Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown with the 32nd overall pick.
Brown stands at 6-foot-2, 320 pounds, and most mock drafts had him going well before the 32nd pick, so it looks like the Pats got a bit of a steal.
So what stands out about Brown? His versatility. Despite his size, Brown has played all over the defensive line in college.
“He’s a guy that’s played inside, on the nose, all the way outside to the five-technique, kind of everywhere in between,” Bill Belichick said. “He’s been moved around a little bit: played a little more outside this year, a little in Coach [Charlie] Strong’s defense; a little more inside with the previous staff.”
The Patriots added to the defensive line even more on Day 2 and Day 3, drafting Oklahoma defensive end Geneo Grissom in Round 3 and Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers in Round 4. Sticking with the theme, Grissom is also a versatile, athletic type, playing on the end and also linebacker at Oklahoma. Flowers also appears to be a versatile guy on the edge, and Belichick mentioned his leadership and toughness.
In the 2nd round, the Pats surprised some by taking a safety, Jordan Richards, out of Stanford, but Belichick raved about his abilities at both safety spots as well as his communication on the field. He also sees Richards as a big part of the special teams unit, something Belichick stresses the importance of year after year.
Of course, New England wouldn’t go an entire draft without taking a couple Tom Brady protectors. They drafted Florida State guard Tre Jackson and Georgia Tech guard Shaq Mason in the 4th round.
“Probably pretty contrasting styles,” Belichick said of the two linemen. “Of course Tre’ [Jackson] played in a pro-type offense with [Jameis] Winston, the quarterbacking and all the things he did at Florida State, whereas Shaq [Mason] played in an offense that was obviously very run-oriented and did a lot of run blocking. [He’s an] aggressive, very athletic player. So, those are two guys that will come in and compete with us from different backgrounds that will have to learn our system and merge together.”
The Pats also drafted Navy long-snapper Joe Cardona in the 5th, Mississippi State linebacker Matthew Wells in the 6th, Arkansas tight end A.J. Derby in the 6th, Marshall cornerback Darryl Roberts in the 7th, and Alabama linebacker Xzavier Dickson in the 7th.