- Mike Reiss, ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots had a busy three-day stretch in the NFL draft by picking 11 players. As part of media coverage, a conference call with each draft pick was coordinated by the team, and here's the biggest takeaway from each of them.
First round: DT Malcom Brown (32nd overall). He came across as humble, showed a sense of humor, and then let his guard down by expressing confidence when asked if he had a message for the team's fans. "You’re about to get the best player you’ve ever drafted," he said.
Second round: S Jordan Richards (64th overall). He was driving with his parents en route to visit his sister in Reno, Nevada, when he learned he'd been selected by the team. So Richards was following the draft on the radio. Among the things we learned about Richards is that his Stanford teammates called him "Coach Richards" because he's so smart.
Third round: DE/OLB Geneo Grissom (97th overall). Saying he would play any position to get on the field, including punter, Grissom struck a humble chord. He also captured his emotion upon being drafted, saying, "I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to cry, I wasn’t going to cry, and I ended up crying like a baby." Later, he showed he was quick on his feet when asked what position coaches told him he might fit. "Come on guys," Grissom replied, "you know I can't answer that." One thing, non-football-wise, that excites him about coming to the region? " I love hockey," he answered. "The Bruins are awesome. [Zdeno] Chara is a beast."
Fourth round: DE Trey Flowers (101st overall). Asked his strength as a player, he focused on his work stopping the run and then revealed that his passion for football was sparked from an unexpected source. "I fell in love with the game watching '[The] Waterboy.' He just taught me to go crazy out there so I just take myself to a place and just attack," Flowers cracked, before adding his favorite scene: "He’s playing middle linebacker and he’s visualizing the quarterback saying something about his momma and he’s walking around going crazy, walking in circles, and then he jumps over the offensive line and hits the quarterback."
Fourth round: G Tre' Jackson (111th overall). He touched on conversations he had with Patriots center Bryan Stork leading up to the draft, as both were teammates at Florida State. Jackson also said seeing former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia at Florida State practices was helpful. "Just being able to get advice from him was a great opportunity," he said.
Fourth round: C/G Shaq Mason (131st overall). After explaining his unique name, Shaquille Olajuwon Mason, he talked about his connection with Tre' Jackson. "He was actually committed to Georgia Tech before he went to Florida State. We met in recruiting," he said, noting they've maintained their connection. Mason also relayed that Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower grew up in the town next to him (Lewisburg, Tennessee).
Fifth round: LS Joe Cardona (166th overall). Saying he grew up watching the Patriots, Cardona relayed that he spent a lot of time in the Belichick Library at Navy, especially during his freshman year. He said he had a feeling he would be a Patriot, in part because they were one of the few teams looking at snappers.
Sixth round: LB Matt Wells (178th overall). He shared that he's legally blind in his right eye. "I can see, just not the reading, but it’s just the legal number for it," he said. "It’s been like that since [I was young]." He said it hasn't affected him football-wise, where length and speed are two things he believes are assets for him.
Sixth round: TE AJ Derby (202nd overall). He said he was stubborn about playing quarterback initially, which is why he left Iowa to attend junior college before landing at Arkansas and switching to tight end. Derby's father was cut by Bill Belichick with the Cleveland Browns. "He made it through one camp before he got released by Coach Belichick," Derby said. "My dad told me that right when I got drafted by them." That later led Belichick to crack, "Shows how old I am."
Seventh round: CB Darryl Roberts (247th overall). He described his style this way: "I’m a little versatile. I can play a little press, a little zone. First things first, I just want to make a name for myself on special teams." Roberts went against Patriots third-year receiver Aaron Dobson in practice. "Me and ‘A.D.’ are pretty cool. He was a good receiver and a good friend of mine when he played at Marshall."
Seventh round: DE/OLB Xzavier Dickson (253rd overall). Asked his strengths as a player, Dickson said simply, "pass rushing." He later expounded on the thought, saying "speed to power" is his best move, while adding he has extensive experience on special teams.
First-round pick Malcom Brown doesn't lack for confidence; one draftee's father once was cut in camp by Bill Belichick.