BOSTON (CBS)– With the 101st overall pick, the Patriots selected tackle Yodny Cajuste out of West Virginia in the 2019 NFL Draft.
After losing Trent Brown to free agency this offseason, the Patriots likely made the move with the intention of restocking the depth chart. Last year’s top pick, Isaiah Wynn, is slated to start at left tackle, with veteran Marcus Cannon on the right side, but there’s not tremendous experience among the backups on the roster.
Interestingly, Cajuste was drafted exactly one spot behind the quarterback he protected in college, Will Grier, who went 100th overall to the Carolina Panthers.
Here’s what Cajuste said when he spoke to New England reporters via conference shortly after getting the call from the Patriots.
Q: What was your reaction to getting the call from the Patriots?
YC: I was very excited. Words can’t explain how excited I felt when I got that call. I’m just blessed to be a Patriot right now.
Q: As you were going through the pre-draft process, how much contact did you have with this team?
YC: I had some contact with them – not much – but I’m just blessed to be in this position right now.
Q: Given your health right now, could you do any physical activities or was it mostly just interviews with teams?
YC: I don’t want to talk about injuries right now.
Q: How would you describe your skillset as an offensive tackle?
YC: I feel like I’m a hard worker. I take coaching well. I feel like I’m just ready to be a New England Patriot. I’m just blessed to be in this position.
Q: Have you played any on the right side? I know you played mostly on the left side in college.
YC: Right, yes. I played right tackle in high school, and my first year at West Virginia when I redshirted I played right tackle.
Q: What would you say is your biggest strength as a player?
YC: I would say I work extremely hard. I take coaching. I would say that would be my biggest strength.
Q: How familiar are you with Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia?
YC: Real familiar. I know he’s one of the greatest football coaches in the NFL right now. I’m just ready to learn as much as I can from him, soak up as much as I can from him.
Q: How did you know about him?
YC: Just my knowledge of football. Growing up, I always watched football, just studying the game. I always knew about Dante Scarnecchia and the guys he’s coached, so that’s how I knew about him.
Q: What stands out to you about the way his offensive lines have played?
YC: I mean, I feel like just the fact that every Sunday, they have a very important job in protecting Tom Brady, so I feel like they do that really well. It all starts with the coaching.
Q: You were a basketball player until your senior year of high school, correct?
YC: Yes sir.
Q: How much have you grown as a prospect since you’ve switched over to football full time?
YC: I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I credit that to my college coaches. I’ve had two offensive line coaches during my five years there. I feel like they transformed me into a really good football player in my time being there.
Q: Do you feel like your basketball background helps you out with the kind of things you’re asked to do on the field?
YC: Definitely. Just being an athlete, playing a sport before – I definitely feel like basketball helps with playing football.
Q: How do you feel like your college offense prepared you for the next level?
YC: I mean, just the fact that we ran a lot of no-huddle in college, and to run no-huddle, you’ve got to be in shape. You know, there’s times where you run 14, 15-play drives at a time, so I feel like just having an opportunity to know that you’ve got to be in great shape to play offensive line, I feel like that prepared me a lot.
Q: At the combine, Will Grier said that you guys took some things from the Patriots offense. Did that also translate to the offensive line? Did your group watch film on them in college?
YC: Right, definitely. Always just being in college, watching the Patriots, a team who’s won countless amount of Super Bowls, we always used to watch those guys, see how they do it, try to translate it into our system.
Q: How exciting is the prospect of trying to earn your place on this offensive line and block for a quarterback like Tom Brady?
YC: It’s definitely exciting, man. I’m ready to learn as much as I can from the vets and the guys who have already been there and learn as much as I can from Coach Scarnecchia. It’s definitely exciting. I can’t wait.
Q: What was it like to get drafted back-to-back with Will Grier?
YC: Yeah, I didn’t find out until after I hung up my call and I saw he got picked up right before me. It was a coincidence. I’m happy for him. That’s big.