The Super Bowl champions came out of the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft with more players and more draft picks.
Unlike Day 1, there was little drama surrounding New England's first pick of the night Friday. In a move reminiscent of the 2012 selection of Tavon Wilson, the Patriots chose Stanford safety Jordan Richards with the final pick of the second round (64th overall). Like Wilson, Richards (5-11, 210) was projected by most draft analysts as being worthy of between a fifth- and seventh-round pick.
"He's been a good player at Stanford," head coach Bill Belichick told media following Round 3. "He plays both strong safety and free safety. Very productive. A guy you'll like having around here."
Richards, whose leadership abilities are considered among his strengths, was a four-year player for the Cardinal, starting each game the last three seasons. He also has a family connection to the New England area. His father played football at Natick (Mass.) High, then Tufts University in the 1970s.
"It's a dream come true," Richards said in his introductory conference call with New England media, although he admitted he wasn't a Patriots fan until he got the call from the organization Friday.
[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="325796"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]Richards described his style of play as "fast and physical" and prides himself on his assiduous preparations, coachability, and football IQ. He was nicknamed "Coach Richards" by Stanford teammates – among them, a pair of current Patriots players, o-lineman Cameron Fleming and running back Tyler Gaffney.
Many draft observers see Richards as a potential special teams contributor. When asked about that possibility, Richards responded, "If you want to play football at this level you better contribute somehow on special teams. I'm juiced and I'm ready for it."
The Patriots didn't have another chance to pick until the end of the third round, when they had back-to-back selections at 96 and 97 overall. However, New England swung a trade with Cleveland, sending the 96th pick, along with their 219th choice in Round 7, to the Browns in exchange for picks 111 (Round 4), 147 (Round 5), and 202 (Round 6), giving the Patriots a 10th selection in the draft (they entered with nine).
"We're kind of spaced pretty evenly throughout the [remaining] rounds… if we hold onto them," said Belichick. "There's guys, at least right now, that we want to pick [on Saturday]. Hopefully we'll get some of them."
With their next pick at 97, New England took Oklahoma DE/OLB Geneo Grissom (6-3, 260), who has also been experimented with as a tight end. In fact, he conducted part of his pre-draft workout at that position.
"Pretty athletic, versatile guy," Belichick remarked. "He's rushed [the passer] inside, outside, end of the line, 5-technique… This guy can run, he can catch. If you didn't know he didn't play tight end, you'd look at his workout and say, 'That's a pretty good tight end.' Looking forward to working with both of them, and [first-round choice] Malcom Brown."
New England now has seven picks remaining when the NFL Draft concludes with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday, beginning at noon.