Patriots Add 6 Players on Final Day of NFL Draft

Sunday, April 29, 2018
GoLocalWorcester Sports Team

Ja'whaun Bentley
The New England Patriots were busy on the final day of the NFL Draft, adding six new players to their roster.

The Patriots filled needs at the linebacker position, cornerback position and drafted a quarterback late in the day.

“We’ll continue to turn over every stone, like we talked about yesterday, trying to create as much competition as we possibly can on the team. Team-building is a fluid process so there’s a lot of moving parts, and we’re going to continue to do what we feel is best for our football team and just try to put the best team together for the 2018 season,” said Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio in his press conference following the draft.

See a Recap Final Day of the Draft Below

Trades, Trades, Trades

Prior to making a pick on Saturday, the Patriots made a plethora of trades with the end result being the acquisition of the Detroit Lions third-round pick in 2019.

At the start of the day, New England traded its 105th overall pick to Cleveland for the Brown’s 114th and 178th overall pick.

The Patriots then took the 114th pick and sent it to Detroit for the third round pick.

Later in the draft, the Patriots traded their 198th overall pick to Kansas City for two seventh-round picks.

The net of all this movement essentially would be the third next year that we acquired from Detroit as an extra pick, and then the seventh, kind of at the end, was a little bit of a throw-in with the 2019 pick there,” said Caserio.

New England’s eight draft weekend trades were the most in franchise history, surpassing the seven made in both 2009 and ’10.

Linebacker Ja'whaun Bentley 

The Patriots picked Bentley with the 143rd overall pick (5th round).

Bentley was the first three-time captain in Purdue football history.

As a senior, he was named all-conference honorable mention by coaches in the Big 10 after recording 89 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for a loss, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and an interception return for a touchdown.

“This guy’s an awesome kid. A four-year starter, three-time captain – not a lot of people can say that. Pretty impressive… very smart, signal-caller [who] ran the defense at Purdue for a couple of different coaching staffs. We brought him in for a visit here in Foxborough and he was really, really impressive, someone we felt comfortable with,” said Caserio.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bentley is the top linebacker when it comes to stopping the run.

Linebacker Christian Sam

New England picked Sam with the 178 overall pick (sixth round).

Sam played in 35 games at Arizona State where he recorded 240 tackles, one sack, three interceptions, four passes defensed and three fumble recoveries.

“Sam is probably a little bit more of a ‘will’ linebacker. His situation – a real successful high school program at Texas. He actually was a defensive back. He played safety in high school and then he got to Arizona State. He kind of was the spur, kind of the call it a ‘star walked-out will linebacker’ initially and then they moved him kind of to off-the-ball linebacker, a ‘will’ linebacker type,” said Caserio.

Sam is expected to compete with Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts and Bentley for one of the backup spots behind Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy.

Wide Receiver Braxton Berrios

Berrios was selected by the Patriots with the 210 overall pick (round 6).

He is a slot wide receiver from the University of Miami.

At Miami, he appeared in 46 games with 20 starts, hauling in 100 catches for 1,175 yards and nine touchdowns.

He can also return punts as he averaged 15.9 yards per punt return in college.

“This guy’s really, really smart. He graduated in, I want to say three to three-and-a-half years, whatever it was. Played inside the formation at the University of Miami, really productive, really tough, good traits, smart, good quickness, was productive, had more opportunities here this season in Miami and he made the most of them,” said Caserio.

He will compete with a group of receivers that includes Julian Edelman, Chirs Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Matthew Slater, Riley McCarron, Jordan Matthews and Cody Hollister.

Quarterback Danny Etling

Danny Etling
While at LSU, Etling was named the SEC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year for football in 2017.

He started the final 23 games of his career, going 16-7 while throwing for 4, 586 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

“Here’s a guy, a Purdue transfer, went down to LSU and the thing about him – he played for Coach [Cam] Cameron in kind of a pro-style offense. He had some experience. The one thing he didn’t do – he didn’t turn the ball over. You look at his career production and this guy didn’t turn the ball over. I think it was 16-2 this year, a low percentage. He takes care of the ball, smart, pretty accurate thrower,” said Caserio.

Cornerback Keion Crossen

Crossen was selected 243rd overall (7th round) by the Patriots.

At Western Carolina, Crossen played in 46 career games with 23 starts.

He recorded 165 tackles, one sack, five tackles for loss, three interceptions, 19 passes defensed and one forced fumble, as well as, two fumble recoveries.

“The way this guy kind of got on the radar screen initially was he worked out at the Wake Forest Pro Day, so that’s where he showed up and tested extremely well, so a lower level of competition, obviously, at Western Carolina. He showed up on a big stage just from a workout perspective. It really blew it out of the water. He’s undersized, just from a size standpoint, but he’s athletic. He runs well, he’s explosive, he’s really competitive, probably more of a perimeter corner,” said Caserio.

Tight end Ryan Izzo

Izzo was selected 250th overall by the Patriots in the draft. He was the Patriots final pick.

At Florida State, Izzo appeared in 41 games with 36 starts.

He hauled in 54 career passes for 761 yards and six touchdowns. His 761 receiving yards rank third most in program history among tight ends.

“We’ve been kind of watching this guy here for the past couple of years and just a solid, strong, consistent football player. We’ll put him in the mix there at tight end,” said Caserio.

Next Up This Offseason

According to Caserio, All the members of the rookie class will gather in Foxborough starting on May 10 for orientation and integration into the spring practices that begin next month and continue into June.

As for the team, New England will now look to complete their 90-man roster.

  • Where are the Patriots Drafting? 

    • Round 1, Pick 23 (23rd overall) - From Los Angeles Rams
    • Round 1, Pick 31 (31st overall) 
    • Round 2, Pick 11 (43rd overall) - From San Francisco
    • Round 2, Pick 31 (63rd overall) 
    • Round 3, Pick 31 (95th overall) 
    • Round 6, Pick 24 (198th overall) - From Los Angeles Rams
    • Round 6, Pick 36 (210th overall) - From Oakland
    • Round 7, Pick 1 (219th overall) - From Cleveland
  • Gronkowski to Return 

    New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski announced earlier this week via an Instagram post that he would be returning to the Patriots in 2018. 

    "I met with coach today, and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats. I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run," Gronkowski wrote.

    Prior to that, it was unclear if Gronkowski would return.  

    Gronkowski missed the Patriots offseason workout program last week and ESPN"s Adam Schefter reported that Gronkowski was still deciding if he wanted to play.  

    This was followed by a bizarre press conference at Gillette Stadium where Gronkowski was there representing Monster Energy during a motor cross event. 

    When asked if he was going to play for the Patriots in 2018, he said “My status is doing really great. I’ve been riding dirt bikes. I’ve been training really hard. I can vroom vroom really good. I can ride that bike like no other."

    As the Boston Herald reported earlier this month, Gronkowski is in the midst of a rift with head coach Bill Belichick over Belichick took issue with Gronkowski going to see Tom Brady's personal trainer Alex Guerrero. 

    Gronkowski in 2017 

    In 2017, Gronkowski hauled in 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games played.

    In the playoffs, Gronkowski caught 16 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns to help the Patriots reach their third Super Bowl in four years.

    Gronkowski's Contract 

    In 2018, Gronkowski will have a base salary of $8,000,000, a roster bonus of $656,250 and a workout bonus of $250,000, while carrying a cap hit of $10,906,250 and a dead cap value of $4,000,000.

  • Who is Gone?

    This offseason has seen a bit of a mass exodus from New England. 

    It started in mid-March when wide receiver Danny Amendola announced that he was leaving New England to sign a two-year deal worth $12 million with $8.25 million in guarantees with the Miami Dolphins. 

    On the same day Amendola left, Malcolm Butler signed a 5-Year Deal Worth $61 Million with the Tennessee Titans. 

    His departure comes as no surprise after he was benched for the Patriots Super Bowl loss to the Eagles. 

    Running back Dion Lewis would join Butler in Tennessee on a four-year deal. 

    Arguably the biggest loss of the Patriots offseason is the departure of left tackle Nate Solder. 

    Solder signed a four-year deal worth $62 million, with $35 million guaranteed with the New York Giants. The deal made Solder the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL.

    Most recently, the Patriots traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the LA Rams for the #23 overall draft pick. 

  • Who is Coming in? 

    This offseason the Patriots have brought in eight new players by either trade or free agency. 

    The Patriots acquired wide receiver and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson from the Oakland Raiders. 

    Last season in Oakland, Patterson played in all 16 games with two starts and caught 31 passes for 309 yards, had 13 rushing attempts for 121 yards and two touchdowns and returned 19 kicks for 538 yards.

    In mid-March, the Patriots acquired Devin McCourty’s brother, Jason, from the Cleveland Browns. McCourty will add depth to the secondary, who will look to replace Malcolm Butler.

    The last player that the Patriots acquired via trade is defensive lineman Danny Shelton.

    Last season, Shelton started all 14 games that he played in and finished with 33 total tackles.

    In his career, he has played in 46 NFL games and has 128 total tackles, but only 1 1/2 sacks.

    In free agency, the most notable player that the Patriots picked up was former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

    Last season with Atlanta, Clayborn played in all 16 games with two starts and finished with a career-high 9½ sacks.

    New England also added running back Jeremy Hill to help fill the void left by Dion Lewis. 

    Last season, Hill started the first seven games of the season and had 37 carries for 116 yards before finishing the season on injured reserve.

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