BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots had a big hole to fill on their defensive line with Vince Wilfork leaving for Houston over the offseason, but they hope to have found a potential replacement on the first night of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Despite speculation (and a report) that the Patriots would trade out of the first round, they used the 32nd overall pick to draft Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown. At 6-foot-2 and 319-pounds, he fits the mold to fill Wilfork’s rather large shoes on the defending champ’s D-line.READ MORE: Somerset Firefighters Searching Taunton River For Missing Boater
“It means a lot to go to a winning team,” Brown told the New England media on a conference call shortly after the first round ended. “I want to contribute to something that is already great. I just want to add whatever I can to the program. It’s a great feeling.”
In Brown, the Patriots drafted an athletic and versatile defensive lineman who could wreak havoc for years to come with fellow young defensive linemen Dominique Easley and Chandler Jones. Brown, a Brenham, Texas native, played in all 13 games in 2012 as a true freshman, and took over as a starter his sophomore year. He finished 2012 with 68 tackles, and followed that up with 64 tackles and a team-high 6.5 sacks as a junior.
Brown was named a consensus All-American following his junior year, shortly after letting everyone know the NFL would be his next stop.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke about Brown following the first round on Thursday night, applauding his versatility. The Patriots head coach noted that Brown played on the inside a lot more last season under new Texas head coach Charlie Strong, but that didn’t stop him from putting up big numbers.
“We just sat there and watched a lot of names come off the board, but we feel good about our selection of Malcom at 32,” said Belichick. “He’s a guy that has played inside at the nose and all the way outside too; the five-technique and everywhere in between… There are plenty of snaps of him in a variety of spots.”
“I’m just relentless,” Brown said of his game. “I want to be the best I can be, so I’m just going to do that when I get there.”
Belichick said Brown’s ability to play across the line is, “A little bit unusual for a guy that size,” but added that his newest player has a lot of work to do when he arrives in Foxboro.
“He has a long way to go like any rookie coming in,” said Belichick. “It’s a lot different in this league , playing against people who are a lot bigger on the other side of the ball. But we think he has an opportunity to do that, we’ll work with him and see how it goes.”READ MORE: Search For Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Elijah Lewis Continues In New Hampshire
Belichick also praised Brown for his maturity. He not only remained at Texas for his junior year despite a head coaching change, but had an All-American season while juggling football with family life. Unlike most collegiate athletes, Brown is married with two young daughters.
Brown was not in Chicago on Thursday, opting to stay home in Texas to watch the draft with his family.
“I think that’s impressive,” Belichick said of Brown’s juggling act with his family life and football. “Staying in school and finishing at Texas, starting a new program this year; he did a lot of things that would lend himself to making good decisions, being loyal and committed.”
Adam Jones & Rich Keefe Discuss Selection:
The Patriots drafted Wilfork 21st overall back in 2004, a steal at the time and throughout Wilfork’s tenure in New England. Now the Patriots are hoping they found similar luck in trying to fill the void left by Wilfork, with many mock drafts projecting Brown to be selected in the early to mid 20s.
But as for the potential of Brown replacing a player like Vince Wilfork, Belichick wouldn’t bite.
“We’ll see,” said the Patriots head coach.
“I just want to come in and contribute to the program,” Brown said when asked about Wilfork. “Whatever I can give, whatever the coaches ask from me, that’s what I’m going to do.”MORE NEWS: Boston Police Cruiser, Sedan Collide In Early Morning Crash In Roxbury
The Patriots have three picks scheduled for Friday’s Day 2 of the NFL Draft: No. 62 (second round), No. 96 (third round) and No. 97 (third round, compensatory pick).