BOSTON (CBS) — There may have been a phone call or two made to the New England Patriots leading up to the 29th pick in NFL draft, but when Bill Belichick saw defensive tackle Dominque Easley still on the board he knew what he wanted to do.
“He’s an all-in guy. There’s not much to not like about him,” Belichick said of his newest defensive player.
Belichick said the 6-2, 288-pound Easley was the best player available when it came time for the Patriots to pick on Thursday night, but Easley came off the board a little earlier than most experts anticipated. He suffered two torn ACLs during his college days at Florida, with the most recent coming in September. That kept him out of pre-draft workouts, but Belichick had seen enough from the versatile lineman to make him a Patriot.
“We felt really good about Dominique being available at 29. He’s been a very good player in a really good program,” said Belichick. “We’ve seen him playing against a lot of good players in [the SEC] and I thought he played well. He’s a versatile guy that has played different positions along the defensive line.
“You don’t see a lot of guys that do that; he lines up on the nose, the guard, the tackle. He lines up outside wide sometimes. You can see him play all those spots,” said Belichick. “He’s a smart guy and very instinctive.”
Easley said he had a very good meeting with Belichick ahead of the draft, but was still surprised when he got the good news.
“I was really excited to see a Massachusetts number come up on my phone,” Easley told reporters on a conference call shortly after being selected. “I’ve been watching the Patriots for a long time. It’s a winning team, so I’m really excited.”
“He’s a very disruptive player,” said Belichick. “His stats may have been a little deceiving because a lot of times he was the disruptive person on the play but not the guy who made the tackle. The reason the play wasn’t successful was his penetration and ability to be disruptive. He has a good knack for that, and is an explosive player.”
In true Patriots fashion, Easley wouldn’t say much about his injury, but said he is healthy. Belichick gave a simple “we feel like he’ll be alright” when asked.
Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork expressed his opinion on his team’s selection via Twitter, Tweeting “I’m lovin this pick!!” from his annual draft party. Easley not only envisions lining up next to Big Vince and wreaking havoc for opposing quarterbacks, but picking the veteran’s brain.
“It’s going to be a great experience getting to learn from a veteran that is really good. It’s going to be exciting learning from him,” said Easley.
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