The New England Patriots didn’t trade their 29th pick in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night. They used that pick to select Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley. It was a selection that may be considered risky, but a promising pick if he can stay healthy. As the Boston Herald reports on Friday, Easley is one of the fiercest interior pass rushers in the draft.
Drawing comparisons to current NFL players like Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett, Easley fills a need for the Patriots. With both Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly getting older and coming off of injuries, a player like Easley can provide youth, speed and a pass rush up the miller. The risky part is his health as he is coming off of two ACL injuries. His upside impressed Patriots coach Bill Belichick enough that he used the 29th selection on Easley despite reports that he could’ve been available in later rounds.
On the selection of Easly, Belichick said, “He’s a very disruptive player. In college, his stats might have been a little bit deceiving because a lot of times he was the disruptive person on the play but wasn’t the guy who ended up making the tackle. It wouldn’t be on the stat street, but the reason the play wasn’t successful was because of his penetration and ability to be disruptive. I think he has a good knack for that. He’s an explosive player.”
At 6-foot-2 and 288 pounds, Dominique Easley is a bit undersized at the position, but his motor and intensity should make up for that. Most importantly, he is a player who values football and learning. That is something that attracted Belichick to him as a player and as a person.
Easley’s history of knee injuries may have prevented him from going earlier in the draft. Easley addressed those concerns. He said, “I’m healthy. I’m just ready to get up there and do whatever coach Belichick needs me to do.”
It sounds like the Patriots first round pick has already caught on to the system and what kind of player he is expected to be. Not only does he get to learn from one of the best coaches, he also gets to learn from a player like Vince Wilfork. Overall, it is a dream come true for Easley and if he does stay healthy, he can become a dream come true for the Patriots and fans for years to come.