BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots drafted nine players in the 2011 NFL Draft. Here is a breakdown of who they took, and what role they will fill in the coming years.
|Rd 1, 17||Nate Solder, OT||Colorado
|Rd 2, 33||Ras-I Dowling, CB||Virginia
|Rd 2, 56||Shane Vereen, RB||Cal
|Rd 3, 73||Stevan Ridley, RB||LSU|
|Rd 3, 74||Ryan Mallett, QB||Arkansas|
|Rd 5, 138||Marcus Cannon, OT||TCU
|Rd 5, 159||Lee Smith, TE||Marshall
|Rd 6, 194||Markell Carter, DE||Central Arkansas|
|Rd 7, 219||Malcolm Williams, DB||TCU|
OT Nate Solder- Taken 17th overall by the Patriots out of Colorado, Solder is a juggernaut offensive lineman at 6-8, 316 lbs. A converted tight end, Solder will help bolster the Patriots’ offensive line that has had trouble keeping Tom Brady upright.
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CB Ras-I Dowling- The Patriots drafted Dowling with the first pick in the second round, 33rd overall. The physical corner will play behind Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden and Kyle Arrington in the secondary. He tallied eight interceptions and three forced fumbles in three years at Virgina. He missed most of 2010 while battling knee, ankle and hamstring injuries.
RB Shane Vereen- The versatile back was taken in the second round, 56th overall. Vereen ran for over 1100 yards at Cal in 2010 and finished the season with 16 touchdowns (13 rushing, 3 receiving). He will provide more depth in the backfield along with Danny Woodhead, BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk.
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RB Stevan Ridley- New England took another running back with their first selection of the third round (73rd overall), Stevan Ridley. Ridley is a big runner who will be used in third down, short yardage situations and possibly on special teams. He ran for over 1100 yards and 15 touchdowns at LSU in 2010. Look for him to play the role of full-back, much like Sammy Morris in the last few seasons.
QB Ryan Mallett- Many pundits believe Mallett had the best arm in the draft, so the Patriots scooped him up with the 74th overall pick. Mallett put up huge numbers while at Arkansas, compiling over 8,000 yards and 69 touchdowns as a Razorback. Although the Patriots are set at quarterback for the near future, grooming Mallet under Brady would be ideal for the 22-year-old who’s mental makeup has come under question.
Mallett said he looks forward to learning under Brady and expects himself to the be next in line when number-12 does decide to hang them up. He will be ready though if the Patriots need him sooner.
“I’m going to prepare myself every week of the season like I’m the starter,” Mallett said in a conference call. “That’s how you’ve got to be as second or third string. You never know what’s going to happen. There have been teams that lose two or three quarterbacks in one game, so every week I’ll prepare myself like I’m starting the game.”
OL Marcus Cannon- The Patriots took another offensive lineman in the fifth round, Marcus Cannon out of TCU with the 138th overall pick. Cannon has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma but is expected to make a complete recovery.
“This is just something I have to go through. God wouldn’t have put on my plate if it were something that I couldn’t handle,” Cannon said on his media conference call after being drafted. “I knew this was going to happen. I was going to have to talk about this the whole time. If that’s what you all want to know, it’s okay. Me and my family are here celebrating and we can care less about the other part. Right now we’re just real happy that I’m going to be in the NFL.”
He will likely be out for the majority of 2011, but this was a pick for the future. With Cannon, Solder and Sebastian Volmer, New England will have a solid core for their offensive line.
TE Lee Smith- It seems like the Patriots have to draft a tight end every year, so in 2011 they took Lee Smith out of Marshall in the fifth round. At 6-6, 267 lbs, Smith will be called upon as a blocker and short yardage receiver. He could also see some time on special teams.
DE Markell Carter- With their only pick in the sixth round, the Patriots drafted defensive end Markell Carter out of Central Arkansas. This is viewed as a project pick for the Pats, as Carter will likely be converted into a linebacker.
DB Malcolm Williams- The Patriots drafted defensive back Malcolm Williams of TCU with their seventh round pick. Williams is also seen as a project player and will probably see time on special teams on 2011.