The Patriots sure know how to pick 'em.
Each year, when the club introduces its top draft choice to local media, the outdoor ceremony is almost always under clear, blue skies and in comfortable weather conditions. The latest such event was no exception.
Defensive tackle Malcom Brown was escorted to the 50-yard line at Gillette Stadium by owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft just one day after the team announced that OLB/DE Willie McGinest – the first draft choice in Patriots history under the Kraft family's ownership – was elected to the team Hall of Fame. This fact was not lost on the former, who welcomed both Brown and the media in opening remarks.
"It got me thinking, 'I hope I'm around 21 years from now and having the same privilege of introducing you [as a Hall of Famer]," said Kraft to the club's newest first-rounder.
Lofty expectations for any draft choice, but Brown also set the bar high himself when, on NFL Draft weekend, he told the media that the Patriots were getting one of the best draft picks they've ever made. In the meantime, since arriving at Gillette three weeks ago, the main message that's been reinforced to Brown is short and sweet: Work Hard. It was a phrase Brown used often in his responses to media questions Wednesday.
"I just really want to work hard and become the best player I can be. Wherever that may lead me, that's where it will lead," said Brown. "There's a lot going on right now, a lot to learn. "You have no choice but to work hard. Everything's fast, but everybody helps contribute to your learning."
Brown will have to be a quick learner if he wants to meet his own high expectations, which are further fueled by the fact that he's already married and a father.
"It means a lot, because I have more than me to support. A lot of people are depending on what I have to do, and it motivates me to play harder and work harder," he acknowledged. "Nothing is given to you. Guys have told me you could be here one day and gone the next. That goes for anyone in the building."
That mindset, of course, is instilled from head coach Bill Belichick on down. In his limited time with Belichick so far, Brown says his initial impressions of the coaching legend are that he offers "tough love" to all his players.
Brown, a Texas native who played collegiately at the state university, said he was "honored to be here" and that it feels more "real" now that he's been in the building for a few weeks and started OTA practices this week. He hasn't yet moved his family to New England, but is anxious to get settled.
"Foxborough's a great place to be," he asserted. "Quiet, country… you know I'm from the country, so, I'll adapt to this pretty well."
The Patriots certainly hope so.