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Patriots go for Markell Carter at No. 194

04.30.11 at 5:45 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots took defensive end Markell Carter with the 194th overall pick in the NFL draft on Saturday. A 6-foot-4, 248-pounder out of Central Arkansas, he totaled 62 tackles, 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles as a senior, and finished his college career with 16.5 sacks. Here’s some video of him in action at Central Arkansas:

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Lee Smith: ‘Humbled’ to be a part of Patriots’ tight end crew

04.30.11 at 4:29 pm ET
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Patriots fifth-round draft pick Lee Smith just wrapped up a conference call with the media ‘€” here are a few quick highlights from the Q&A:

Thoughts on getting the call?
Oh, man. I was actually in my backyard playing baseball with my three-year-old. I got the call, and walked inside with my wife and it’s a dream come true. You know, my father played in the NFL. It’s been a dream of mine my whole life to play at the highest level of competition in this sport, and just to get that opportunity and to be able to bring my son and my daughter and my wife along for the ride, it’s just so humbling and so rewarding, I can’t explain the emotions that went through my body.

How did your father help you through this process, being that he went through it as a professional?
My Dad actually passed away last year, but throughout my whole life, he prepared me mostly for the mental aspect of the next level. He always told me that it’s pretty much even ground as far as the physical attributes go. Once you get to that next level, as long as you continue to work hard and be as mentally strong as you can be, then you have a good chance to get through it. Every step of the way that I’ve gone through in my athletic career to this point he had already gone through, so having him there to kind of lean on and ask questions when something would go wrong or something would go right, have him there to say, ‘This is how I handled it,’ and maybe I should have handled it different. Having his help was something that I’d never take for granted and something I wish I had today. I wish I could call him and talk about being a Patriot.

Walk us through the move from Tennessee to Marshall?
Yes ma’am. I’d known coach Fulmer my whole life. My Dad played for coach Fulmer at Tennessee. It was kind of a no-brainer situation for me. I was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, here where I’m living now with my family. That where was where I always wanted to play college football. There was a bump in the road, and it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. I ended up moving to Marshall, met a lot of great people, a lot of great men in my life that helped me become a man. I had my two children there. Me and my wife got married while I was at Marshall. I think something that seemed to be a negative at the time turned into a very great positive. I don’t think I’d be a Patriot right now if it wouldn’t have happened.

What did you think of the New England tight ends last year?
It fires me up to see two and three and four tight end sets on the field. It’s very special when a team can do that. It definitely makes mismatches. I think Hernandez and Gronkowski and Crumpler, they are all very different players, but at the same time, with all three of them on the field, it’s a nightmare for a defensive coordinator for any team in he NFL. I’m humbled to be put in a group with those three guys, and I’m excited to kind of pick their brains and hopefully get a little knowledge from each one of them. I know Crumpler’s been in the league for a long time ‘€” I remember watching him when I was a young kid. It’s very humbling to get to play beside him, and like I said, I’m excited to take all I can from him and the other two guys as far as their experiences as rookies.

Do you feel you could serve as a long snapper in the National Football League?
Well, a guy named Mike Bartum actually played tight end at Marshall, I think he was in New England for a little while. He did it for a long time in the league ‘€” I think he was in the league for 13 or 14 years, and at that position, it can add two or three years to a players’ football career. I feel like anything that allows me to play in the National Football League an extra year is worth working at every day. That’s been my passion my whole life ‘€” I love playing football. I love the competition. I love the cameraderie. I will say that if there’s someone in New England who cam get me right n my long snapping, I definitely could use a tweak on it here and there, that’s something I could definitely learn to do. If there’s an extra tight end on the roster, I feel like he could also be your long snapper. It adds a roster spot or someone else. So it could be nothing but helpful to me and the Patriots.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Lee Smith,

Highlights from Bill Belichick’s Friday night Q&A with NFL Network

04.30.11 at 3:29 pm ET
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Courtesy of NFL Network, here are a few of the highlights of Bill Belichick‘s Q&A Friday night at the end of the third round.

On drafting Ryan Mallett in the third round:

‘€œWe thought there was real good value on the board there with Ryan. He’€™s had an excellent college career, both at Michigan and then when [Michigan] changed offenses, [he] went to Arkansas. [He] won a lot of games in high school, his father was a coach. He’€™s a football guy, comes from a football family, which I think I can relate to. I think he’€™s a good football player. He was great value for us based on what was on the board at that point in time so we felt comfortable taking him. We’€™ll let him compete with our quarterbacks on the team ‘€” [Jonathan] Crompton, [Brian] Hoyer and [Tom] Brady ‘€” and see where it all goes. We’€™ve all seen when you have a football team when you don’€™t have depth at that position, that can be a very big problem for your team. Hopefully we have it now.’€

On drafting two running backs: Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley:

‘€œWe had some age at running back this year. I think this gives us two younger players that can compete at that position. Both very productive players and I’€™d say very different. Ridley’€™s a bigger back, powerful guy, good inside runner, big strong, physical tough yard kind of guy. Vereen is more of a space player, good hands, very good in the passing game. Both guys are quality guys. I think they’€™ll help us in the kicking game. They’€™ve had good production in a high level of competition, both at Cal and at LSU. I think Ridley was productive not only this year where he had most of his production but in the opportunities that he had in prior years when they rotated backs, he still had a lot of production at a high level in the SEC. I think those two backs complement each other well and will give us good competition at the position.’€

On the deal with the Raiders in which the Patriots traded their third- and fourth-round picks in this year’€™s draft for Oakland’€™s second round pick in 2012:

‘€œThat was probably one of the most unusual trades that I’€™ve ever been a part of. We started talking about that trade sometime this afternoon. It seemed like it took about six hours to make. We went back and forth, and they picked, and we picked. It finally ended up there where it did. I think that their mindset was to get an extra pick there in the third and fourth round. Once we traded back with Houston and picked up an extra third round pick, then we had a little bit of surplus there. When we had the opportunity to move that pick into the second round in next year’€™s draft, we just felt like that was good value for us based on what the values were on the board when we made that trade. Oakland wanted to do it early; we were happy to get it done. Again, based on the values on the board, there wasn’€™t a player we felt like we would draft this year that would have a comparable value to a second round pick next year. That’€™s why we went ahead and pulled the trigger.’€

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick,

Marshall TE Lee Smith is picked by Patriots at No. 159 overall

04.30.11 at 3:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots selected tight end Lee Smith out of Marshall with the 159th overall pick of the NFL draft on Saturday.

Smith is a 6-foot-6, 266-pounder who finished his senior season with the Thundering Herd with a career-best 38 catches for 358 yards and three touchdowns. He started his collegiate career at the University of Tennessee, but was kicked off the team after a DUI. He transferred to Marshall, and finished his college career with 75 catches for 791 yards and three touchdowns.

His father, Daryle, played offensive line at Tennessee and spent six seasons in the NFL playing for the Cowboys, Browns and Eagles before spending four more seasons in the CFL.

Here’s some video of Smith as a collegian:

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Patriots take TCU OL Marcus Cannon at No. 138

04.30.11 at 2:14 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” With the 138th overall pick in the NFL draft, the Patriots selected TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon.

Cannon, a 6-foot-5, 358-pounder, has played tackle over the course of his college career, but it’s believed he might have some positional versatility, possibly moving to guard at the next level. Many initially believed Cannon to be a second-, or even a first-round pick, but Cannon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which was discovered when he went through physicals at the combine. (Reports indicate that it is treatable ‘€” Cannon faces a success rate for beating the cancer of better than 90 percent.)

Cannon is a three-time All-Mountain West Conference selection and a third-team All-American in 2010.

Here’s some video of Cannon at TCU:

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Marcus Cannon,

Bill Belichick Q&A, 4/29/11

04.29.11 at 11:47 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick just wrapped up his press conference at the conclusion of Day 2 of the NFL draft. Here’€™s the complete transcript of his Q&A with the media:

BB: It’€™s a day of preparation all the way through just trying to go through the second and third round and take a look at the players and the teams and so forth, putting it all together. We had a number of conversations prior to the draft. We really felt like Ras-I Dowling was a good pick for us there. Big corner, good tackler, been in a good program there in Virginia with coach [Al] Groh and Mike London this past year. [He’€™s] a guy that’€™s played in a system pretty similar to what we’€™ve run. Very impressive kid. Then we had a little movement down there, took [Shane] Vereen and then traded back and ended up taking [Stevan] Ridley and [Ryan] Mallet. It seemed like there was some conversation on just about every pick. I can’€™t really remember what all of it was, but again, in the end, we just felt like moving back and picking up the extra pick would enable us to make the Oakland trade, which was kind of ongoing. That’€™s something that we’€™ve been talking about here for a little while with them that finally got consummated. Coming out of the draft with the five players that we have ‘€“ a lineman and three skilled players on offense and a corner on defense ‘€“ and a couple of high picks next year, I feel like we had a pretty decent couple days. And then we’€™ll just go back tonight and try to take a look at what’€™s left on the board and what we have left in the way of picks and keep plugging away and try to find players that can contribute or maybe we think develop on the football team. Still got a long way to go here, but this is where we are for right now.

Q: What specifically drew you to Ryan Mallet?
BB: We just felt like he was a good player. He’€™s had a lot of production. He’€™s won everywhere he’€™s been: high school, college. He did a good job at Michigan. They came in and changed offenses and that was definitely beyond his control. I think he’€™s been a successful, productive quarterback all the way through his career: high school, college. He’€™s an impressive guy to talk to.

Q: What did you think of his arm strength?
BB: Very good. I don’€™t think that’€™s any issue at all. He played a very good offense with Coach Petrino at Arkansas and they do a lot of pro-style type things, so I think he handled that very well as far as throws, accuracy, mechanics, all the mental stuff ‘€“ making changes, adjustments, protections, those things. I’€™d say he’€™s pretty far along relative to some other quarterbacks we’€™ve seen.

Q: No misgivings about the off-field stuff with him? You’€™re comfortable with him?
BB: Obviously we’€™re comfortable with him; we took him.

Q: So far you haven’€™t drafted a pass rusher. Do you feel like you have players here and you don’€™t need to upgrade?
BB: We have some young players on our roster and I think that those players ‘€“ in all the various positions, not just at that specifically ‘€“ but I think younger players will still continue to develop. But there are good players up there on the board and we got the ones that we felt were best for us. There are other players that are good players, too, that went to the other teams. That’€™s the way it always is.

Q: Ryan Mallett led some last minute drives at Arkansas. Does he have those leadership intangibles?
BB:  Yeah. Again, this guy has been very productive. He’€™s been a winning quarterback all the way through his career and he’€™s won a lot of games ‘€“ some at the end, some at the beginning. He’€™s been a very productive guy ‘€“ not just statistically, but more importantly in terms of wins and losses and doing the things it takes for his team to win.
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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick,

Bill Belichick: Ryan Mallett ‘definitely a football guy’

04.29.11 at 10:47 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Shortly after the Patriots selected controversial quarterback Ryan Mallett in the third round of the NFL draft Friday night, New England coach Bill Belichick talked about the acquisition of the former Arkansas quarterback, a player many believed was a first-round talent who slipped down the draft board because of character questions.

‘€œWe just felt like he was a good player. He’€™s won everywhere he’€™s been ‘€” high school, college,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œ[He] did a good job at Michigan. They came in and changed offenses. That was definitely beyond his control. I think he’€™s been a successful, productive quarterback all way through his career, high school, college.’€

Mallett met with the Patriots during the pre-draft process, and Belichick said he came away feeling that the quarterback was ‘€œan impressive guy to talk to.’€

‘€œHe’€™s definitely a football guy. He’€™s a great kid to talk to. He’€™s very into football. You can’€™t wear him out ‘€” as long as you want to talk about it, he’€™ll be there. However many hours it is, he’€™s ready to go watch the next film or go talk about a new technique or read or whatever.

‘€œHis father is a football coach ‘€” he’€™s grown up in a football family. I can definitely relate to that. You either get sick of it or you marry into it and love it. I think he’€™s very much of a football person. Both his parents are educators. He’€™s a kid that’€™s eager to learn and has a great thirst for knowledge for football and for his position ‘€” there’€™s a lot going on there. I think he’€™ll certainly get an opportunity to receive a lot of knowledge about that position here.’€

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, Ryan Mallett,
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