NFL Draft Live Blog: Pats Take Alabama LB Xzavier Dickson With Their Final Pick Of Draft

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

6:27 p.m.: The Patriots’ final pick of the 2015 NFL draft is Xzavier Dickson, a linebacker from Alabama.

He’s 6-foot-3, 260 pounds. Here’s one last NFL.com draft profile for you, this one on Dickson:

Strengths

Had in-conference streak of five straight games with at least 0.5 sacks and finished the season with nine total sacks. Gets adequate jump off the snap and into his pass rush with low pad level. … Consistent contributor for winning program and solid Alabama defense.

Weaknesses

Smooth body lacking the muscularity and definition usually found at the position. Doesn’t dominate tight ends. Fails to set and hold the edge as regularly as desired. … Seems to be lacking competitive fire at times and isn’t prone to aggressive pursuit of a play from the backside. Rarely used in coverage and primarily used as rush end.

Bottom Line

Used as a 3-4 outside backer at times and as a defensive end when Alabama goes to it’s even front, Dickson has adequate skills as a pass rusher, but is average to below average against the run.

6:22 p.m.: The Patriots are due to make their final pick in about 10 minutes or so. It’s a compensatory pick, so they can’t trade it.

6:14 p.m.: Well, it took nearly the entire draft, but the Pats have finally selected a cornerback.

They took Marshall’s Darryl Roberts with the 247th overall pick of the draft. Roberts is 6-feet, 182 pounds.

Pats receiver Aaron Dobson seems excited about the pick:

Here’s what NFL.com’s Draft Profile had to say about him:

Strengths

Impressive recovery speed with short­-area twitch to go with it. Can change directions on command and has desired stop/start quickness. Has long arms and is aggressive with them in press coverage. Will look to pop receivers rather than just touch them at line of scrimmage. Will sniff around on plays outside of his responsibility looking to make a play. Has length, speed and ball skills to challenge most down-field throws. Core cover player on special teams. Has physical tools defensive backs coaches covet. See what he hits in run support and doesn’t throw himself wildly at ball carriers.

Weaknesses

Willing to take too many physical liberties with receivers down the field. Penalized 6 times for 71 yards in 2014 including three pass interferences. Needs to play with more bend in backpedal to maximize body control and transition quickness. Inconsistent defensive awareness. Will allow an occasional throw in front of him or a running back to blow by him without being ready. Gets impatient and undisciplined in mirror-­and-­match situations despite his tools.

6:09 p.m.: It’s been a while, but we’re nearing another Patriots pick. They’re two away, at No. 247.

4:48 p.m.: With the sixth round winding down, the Pats have just two picks left, and they’re both pretty late. They own the 247th and 253rd pick.

4:31 p.m.: Another pick for the Pats, this one used on tight end A.J. Derby out of Arkansas.

Derby is 6-foot-4, 255 pounds. Here’s NFL.com’s draft profile on him:

Strengths

Big, physical and fast. Athletic in space with ability to create some separation out of breaks. Has speed after catch in open field. Posted impressive 54-yard touchdown catch and run against Alabama secondary that struggled to catch him. Can line up all over the field. Natural pass-catcher. Had only one drop during 2014 season. Showed willingness to catch throws over the middle and take the punishment. Unique perspective after playing quarterback and linebacker before move to tight end. … Father and uncle had stops in the NFL and his brother lettered at Iowa.

Weaknesses

Has only one year of tight end experience. Routes have very little polish to them. He needs time to learn the nuances of position. Run blocking very much a work in progress. Uses poor hand placement and fails to sustain blocks when in-line. Balance at contact needs to improve when blocking in spaces. Has habit of using one rather than two hands for difficult catches. Was unable to play in final game (Texas Bowl) due to knee injury and continues to heal.

Bottom Line

Despite spending only one season at tight end, has the size and tools to become a move tight end who creates matchup issues for defenses.

Derby caught 22 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns last season.

4:21 p.m.: The Pats are just a couple of picks away from making pick No. 202.

3:33 p.m.: The pick is in. The Pats selected Mississippi State linebacker Matt Wells with the 178th overall pick.

Wells stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 222 pounds. Pro Football Focus’ Matt Claassen tweeted that Wells excelled in pass coverage.

Meanwhile, Joe Cardona chimes in on Twitter.

3:28 p.m.: We’ve all had barely any time to digest that long snapper pick, but the Pats are back on the clock for their sixth-round pick.

3:04 p.m.: It’s hard to get more Belichick than this: The Patriots selected Navy long snapper Joe Cardona with the 166th pick of the draft.

The initial reaction is just humor. Only Belichick would draft a long snapper out of Navy in the fifth round.

Believe it or not, Cardona actually had a draft profile written up about him on NFL.com:

Strengths

Taught by father to long ­snap when he was younger to give him best chance to make the football team. Extremely accurate and consistent as snapper for punts over last four years and field goals over last three. Snaps have been clocked at 41 mph, which is considered outstanding. Snaps with power and doesn’t show a prominent hitch in his delivery.

Weaknesses

Not as much of a factor in coverage as teams would like. Must improve breaking down in space and challenging the punt returner consistently. Facing a five-year Naval commitment that could delay his opportunity in the NFL unless given special dispensation.

An NFC special teams coach told NFL.com, “He will play in our league until he wants to quit. Guys like this have way more value to teams than people realize.”

3:03 p.m.: The Pats are due to pick next.

2:11 p.m.: And there’s the trade that I thought was coming last round. The Pats just traded the 147th pick to Green Bay.

In return, they get picks No. 166 (fifth round) and 247 (seventh round).

2:05 p.m.: The Pats are due to select again shortly, with the 147th overall pick. That’s just two away. It’s their only pick in the fifth round.

1:32 p.m.: The Pats did not trade their pick. Instead, they used it to select offensive lineman Shaquille Mason from Georgia Tech.

Mason started 14 games at right guard last season, after starting 13 games at right guard in 2013. The most exciting factoid about Mason is that his full name is Shaquille Olajuwon Mason. His parents might like basketball, but I won’t jump to any hasty conclusions.

NFL.com’s draft profile on the 6-foot-1, 300-pound Mason:

Strengths

One of the most powerful drive blockers in the 2015 draft. Comes off ball with low pad level and wide base and routinely wins leverage game. Snaps hips under him at contact, standing defensive tackles up. Runs feet through contact, looking to bury his man. Salty and tough. Strength is his calling card. Moves well in space and climbs to second level under control. Able to sustain blocks for several yards downfield when his balance is right. Good knee bend in pass sets with ability to mirror. Keeps weight balanced throughout pass set with desired posture. Above-average hand fighter in pass pro and able to reset hands when they are knocked away.

Weaknesses

Short guard with short arms. Lets his hands get a little wide in pass sets, making his lack of length more distressing. Takes inconsistent angles to targets on zone runs, causing him to fall off of some blocks. Forward-leaner susceptible to balance issues at contact. Inconsistent with cut blocks, despite high number attempted at Georgia Tech. Rarely asked to sustain pass protection very long. Faced very few skilled interior pass rushers.

1:13 p.m.: The Patriots are due to make their next pick at No. 131, which is seven picks away at this point. I’d be surprised if they don’t trade that pick, considering they have already made two fourth-round picks and have just one pick in the fifth and one pick in the seventh today.

12:38 p.m.: The Pats’ second pick of the fourth round is in, pick No. 111. They’ve used it to select Tre Jackson, a guard from Florida State.

Here’s what NFL.com’s draft profile said of Jackson:

Played in 49 games, starting 42. Captured South Team MVP honors at 2015 Senior Bowl. Named unanimous All-American in 2014 and was tabbed first-team All-ACC for two years in a row (2013-14) while helping lead Florida State to a 27-1 record and 2013 BCS national championship.

Strengths

Leverage and strength to stand and steer defenders in confined spaces. Stays flat-footed and balanced at point of impact in pass pro. Deliberate, controlled climb to second level. Power to jolt in his hands. Shows recovery ability when beaten in run game. In short pull, can find target, engage and seal. Aggressive play demeanor. Can take a stand when being bull-rushed.

Weaknesses

Fleshy midsection with excess weight potentially affecting foot quickness. Loses feet sliding to pick up rushers. Will duck head into block on contact. Limited effectiveness in space. Inconsistent performer this season. Too reliant upon size over skill and failed to show improvement this season. Struggles to get feet into winning position when blocking laterally.

Sources Tell Us

“He’s got everything you want in a guard, he just needs to work on technique. I did my homework on the person and I think he’ll be coachable. He would start right away for us.” – NFL offensive coordinator

Bottom Line

Three-year starter on a line full of wide-bodies, Jackson entered the 2014 season as one of the top-rated guard prospects, but failed to distinguish himself. Has the talent to be a dependable, quality NFL starter, but he needs to work on weight and conditioning in order to improve his feet and reach his potential.

12:33 p.m.: In AFC East news, the Jets drafted quarterback Bryce Petty out of Baylor. Interesting, as always.

12:10 p.m.: The Patriots used the second pick of the fourth round on Arkansas DE Trey Flowers. This was the pick acquired from Tampa Bay for Logan Mankins.

Pro Football Focus says of Flowers:

He’s not a pure speed rusher, but he is an every-down threat. Flowers is great against the run and extremely good rushing the passer, which makes it all the more surprising teams are letting a guy slip, who could come in and start Day 1. His 61 quarterback disruptions in the SEC are nothing to be sniffed at, and he had the highest grade of any edge defender against the run. What’s more, he brings with him some versatility, being able to kick inside. An extremely powerful player.

Here is NFL.com’s draft profile of Flowers:

Selected second-team All-SEC in 2014 and 2013. Started every game in 2014 and led team in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (6). Missed one game in 2013 with a knee injury. Recorded five sacks that season. Started every game in 2012 and played in every game as a freshman in 2011. Selected to SEC All-Freshman Team. Two-time All-State selection in football and also played basketball in high school.

Strengths

High-motor power end. Uses stab move effectively and is continuing to grow as a pass rusher. Consistent with hand placement and is technically sound. Stacks and sheds in run game. Had a strong game against Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. Good student. Doesn’t look like much athletically, but finds his way to the ball against the run.

Weaknesses

Not a quick-twitch athlete. Below-average burst off the snap and and won’t win around the corner very much in pass rush. Not yet advanced enough as a pass rusher to be able to consistently pressure the passer. Nothing special about ability to close on the ball. Limited scheme fit.

Draft Projection

Round 3

NFL Comparison

Adrian Clayborn

Bottom Line

While he might have room on his frame to add more bulk, he’s not as long as most 3-4 teams would like at defensive end. His aggressiveness at the point of attack is a plus, but he might have to come off the field on third downs. Limited athletic traits might affect his draft stock.

Flowers is 6-foot-2, 266 pounds.

11 a.m.: Have you had enough NFL draft yet? I sure hope not, because we’ve got an entire day of draft action on tap for today.

OK, so “action” may not be the best word to use to describe the events of a draft, but keep in mind how important rounds four through seven can be for a team. For your consideration, here’s a brief history at some late-round picks who have played significant roles for the Patriots during Bill Belichick’s tenure:

Bryan Stork (fourth round, 2014)
Aaron Hernandez (fourth round, 2010)
Zoltan Mesko (fifth round, 2010)
Julian Edelman (seventh round, 2009)
Matthew Slater (fifth round, 2008)
Stephen Gostkowski (fourth round, 2006)
James Sanders (fourth round, 2005)
Matt Cassel (seventh round, 2005)
Asante Samuel (fourth round, 2003)
Dan Koppen (fifth round, 2003)
Tully Banta-Cain (seventh round, 2003)
Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. (sixth round, 2000)

Hey, that last one was pretty good.

Of course, mixed in with those hits are a couple-dozen misses, but that’s the beauty of this thing.

We won’t know which picks made today are hits or misses right off the bat, but we’ll have plenty of analysis after each one made by Belichick and Co. today, as well as many picks from around the league. Check back throughout the day for everything you need to know from Day 3 of the 2015 NFL Draft.

In the meanwhile, if you need to catch up on anything the Patriots have done thus far, it’s all here on our Patriots page.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here. You can email him or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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