Saturday, December 7, 2013
By Mike Lowe firstname.lastname@example.org
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots closed out their draft Saturday with a pair of defensive players, including a third player from Rutgers.
Jamie Collins played for Southern Mississippi on a winless team last season. But when he had a chance for a sack, he got it. The Pats noticed, and drafted him.
The Associated Press
Jamie Collins and Aaron Dobson
PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
52. Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Mississippi
59. Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
83. Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
91. Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers
4th round: No. 102
7th: Nos. 226, 229, 235
With the 226th pick, New England grabbed Illinois defensive end Michael Buchanan, a tall athletic sack master. He had 14 sacks in 46 career games and 26 tackles for loss.
Strong and quick to the ball, Buchanan goes 6-foot-6 and weighs 250 pounds.
With their final pick, at 235, the Patriots took their third Rutgers product: linebacker Steve Beauharnais.
At 6-1, 240 pounds, Beauharnais had a strong showing at the Combine to back up a solid career.
He finished with 83 tackles on the Scarlet Knights last year, third on the team.
The Patriots took a wide receiver with the 102nd pick. New England took Josh Boyce of Texas Christian University with the fifth pick of the fourth round, a selection it acquired from the Minnesota Vikings in a trade on Thursday.
Boyce is considered an intriguing pick. At 5-foot-11, 206 pounds, he is extremely strong and has great hands. He was also very impressive at the NFL Combine, where he was considered one of the best performers in his group.
He ran a 4.38 seconds 40, had 22 bench press reps, ran a 6.68 seconds 3 cone drill and a 4.10 seconds short shuttle.
He had 22 career touchdown passes with 2,532 yards.
Boyce was a high school teammate of Robert Griffin III and many expected the Washington Redskins to make a move for him in the draft.
Friday night, the Patriots appeared to address all their off-season concerns one-by-one.
They needed another pass rusher, so the Patriots took Jamie Collins, a sack machine from Southern Mississippi, with the 52nd pick -- one they got from the Vikings.
Needing a wide receiver who they hope can open up the offense, they used the 59th pick to take Aaron Dobson of Marshall, a highlight-reel receiver who caught 24 career touchdowns.
Their pass defense ranked 29th of 32 teams last year, so the Patriots looked to shore up the secondary by taking cornerback Logan Ryan from Rutgers -- a physical defender who has great ball skills -- with the 83rd pick.
And then, to the surprise of many, the Patriots dipped into the Scarlet Knights' secondary again and took Ryan's teammate, safety Duron Harmon, with the 91st pick.
When the night was over, Coach Bill Belichick had a satisfied look.
"I think we were about to improve our team tonight with the four players we selected," said Belichick, wearing a navy blue Watertown Police Department hoodie that had the Patriots' logo on it as well. "We'll see how it all comes together, but I think we got good value for our picks, good players. They have a lot of things going for them. We'll see how it all works out."
Of course, nothing is certain about the NFL draft. First-round picks sometimes fade quickly into oblivion. Seventh-round picks sometimes become Pro Bowl players.
Belichick knows this, but he also knows what he likes.
He interviewed each of the four players the Patriots drafted Friday night. And while he dismissed the importance of those interviews -- saying they are just a piece of a puzzle that has a lot of pieces -- he also got an insight into the intelligence and personality of the players.
The Patriots have a complex system, offensively and defensively, and not everyone can get it. Just ask Chad Ochocinco, a longtime Belichick favorite who was banished after one year because he couldn't grasp the offense.
The Patriots drafted athletes. Collins was a quarterback in high school, played safety as a freshman, linebacker the next two years and, essentially, defensive end last year.
He had 10 sacks last year, 20 tackles for losses. For his career he had 21 sacks. Collins also displayed a perseverance Belichick loves. His team didn't win a game last year, but that didn't stop him from playing his best.
"It's motivation and adversity," said Collins. "Everybody has to deal with adversity. I felt I had to play hard every game because we were losing."
Dobson -- joining Troy Brown and Randy Moss as former Marshall receivers with the Patriots -- was an outstanding high school basketball player who visited Northeastern University in Boston as a basketball recruit.
He scored 24 career touchdowns and, according to team stats, didn't drop a pass in 92 targets as a senior.
Asked about the possibility of playing with Tom Brady, he audibly gasped and said, "Oh man, you can't beat that. He's the best quarterback in the league."
Asked about drafting two defensive backs from the same school, Belichick said the Rutgers defense was outstanding and they were a big part of it.
Based on Ryan's conference call, the Patriots got an extremely intelligent and confident cornerback.
While Harmon admitted to being surprised he went in the third round -- no one had any video clips on him -- Ryan said he was ready for his name to be called by the Patriots.
"The Patriots were one of the teams that worked me out and I knew that they needed a corner," he said. "I felt like I was the guy for them all along. They have a great Rutgers connection but beyond that, I'm a smart, versatile player and can do well in that organization. I think I was the perfect fit."
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