BOSTON (CBS) — In a surprising move that shouldn’t be all that surprising anymore, Bill Belichick made a big reach in the second round of the NFL Draft.
With the 64th overall pick, Belichick and the Patriots drafted Stanford safety Jordan Richards, who was projected to go in the fifth or sixth round.
Richards helps New England with their lack of depth in the secondary, but many scouts project him to be a backup safety (with the potential to replace Patrick Chung) and special teams player in the NFL. After playing 13 games as a true freshman, he started every game for Stanford starting his sophomore year and was named First-team All-Pac-12 as a senior. He is also applauded for being a very smart player on the field, winning a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award in 2014 and earning Pac-12 All-Academic first team honors each of the last three years. He was even called “Coach Richards” by his teammates since his sophomore season.
He’s also got a bit of a local connection, with his father, Terrence, a former member of the Tufts football team. The elder Richards was a member of the Jumbos during the mid to late 1970s, and was on the 8-0 team from 1979.
On a conference call shortly after being drafted, Richards already sounded like seasoned member of the New England Patriots.
“When you’re out there on the field, you do your 1/11th,” Richards told reporters. “You don’t try to do anything above and beyond what you’re asked. You do your job and you do it to the best of your ability. That’s what I see. That seems to be coach Belichick’s motto. You just do your job, and if all 53 guys or however many people are on that field are doing their job and putting everything they’ve got into it, the chance of success is a lot higher than when guys are trying to do their own thing.”
Richards, who stands at 5-foot-11 and 211-pounds, had nine picks, 24 passes defended and 247 total tackles in his four-year career at Stanford.
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The selection brings back memories of Belichick mid-rounders Tavon Wilson (2012 second round) and Duron Harmon (2013 third round), both safeties and both players who were not in a lot of mock drafts. Wilson has only started four games in his three seasons in New England, while the jury remains out on Harmon,
But Bill Belichick loves his smart players, and Richards certainly fits that mold. Drafting him in the second round appears to be a very big reach for the Patriots, but one that may pay off in the end. If not, it will be another Belichick reach that doesn’t pan out.