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Draft roundup: A memorable weekend for Patriots

05.02.11 at 12:19 pm ET
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It was a busy NFL draft for the Patriots, to say the least. They picked nine players and made three trades, ultimately setting themselves up with two first-round picks and two second-round picks in next year’s draft.

WEEI.com covered the draft from start to finish, introducing readers to each new Patriot along the way. In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the coverage.

With their first pick (17th overall), the Pats selected offensive tackle Nate Solder out of Colorado. Christopher Price broke the pick down, noting that Solder could contribute immediately given the question marks on the offensive line. Price also provided the full transcript of Solder’s media conference call. There were also two videos of Solder worth sharing — one of him on ESPN’s “Sports Science” and one of him flattening a scout during his pro day.

The Pats then had the first pick of the second round (33rd overall), which they used to take Virginia defensive back Ras-I Dowling. Here is Price’s story on the pick and the highlights of Dowling’s conference call.

New England’s next two picks were both running backs. First up was Cal’s Shane Vereen at No. 56 (story and interview highlights). Then it was LSU’s Stevan Ridley at No. 73 (story).

The Pats’ next pick (No. 74) created perhaps the biggest shock waves of the draft for New England. Bill Belichick and company decided to draft Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, who was surrounded by questions about his character leading up to the draft. Here’s Price’s story, in which Belichick had nothing but good things to say about Mallett. Belichick met with the media at the end of Day 2 to discuss all the team’s picks that day — here’s the transcript.

Mallett, who is from Texas, will have at least one good friend in the area. Alex Speier details his friendship with Red Sox prospect Will Middlebrooks, currently playing with Double-A Portland. The two met in grade school and have been close ever since — Middlebrooks said they’re “like brothers.”

Day 3 was another busy one for the Pats, as they selected four more players. They started by taking TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon at No. 138 (story and interview highlights). Then it was Marshall tight end Lee Smith at No. 159 (story and highlights), Central Arkansas defensive end Markell Carter at No. 194 (story and highlights), and TCU defensive back Malcolm Williams at No. 219 (story and highlights). Here’s the transcript of Belichick’s press conference at the end of Day 3.

Of course, the stories don’t end once the draft is over. One of the most notable post-draft stories in Boston was that BC linebacker and cancer survivor Mark Herzlich was not selected. Price had this post on Herzlich’s post-draft comments on Twitter. Price also wrote about 10 undrafted free agents (including Herzlich) the Pats could sign once the lockout ends. Finally, Price looked at the fact that six of the Pats’ nine picks were captains of their college teams and what that might mean.

Read More: Mark Herzlich, Nate Solder, Ras-I Dowling, Ryan Mallett
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