The mission to add the highest value possible with the draft picks available continued for New England Sunday. Aware of the needs of the team, Bill Belichick highlighted Day Two of the draft with an offensive lineman, two tight ends and a pair of defensive backs.
In order to get Jones, the Patriots sent the fourth rounder (112th) acquired from Pittsburgh on Saturday (112th) and a fifth-round pick (139th) to the Chargers.
A four-year starter for the Bulls, Jones is a powerful player who can bench press nearly 500 pounds. One negative he has been hit with is laziness, a label Jones wants to dispel.
"I came in as a true freshman and started, and during those four years, I never had anyone challenge me for my position," Jones said. "I always knew I was going to start week in and week out, and I let that take away from my work ethic. I know that, and I got by with it. I performed well on the field, but everyone can work harder, and I believe I could have worked harder as a college athlete."
Jones has shown dedication and a solid work ethic since the end of the Southern Florida season, at which time he weighed 325 pounds. Scouts told him he needed to slim down, and by the time he had his workouts, he was down to 308. While Jones played against lower level competition, Belichick said the three best games of Jones' senior season came against Division I teams.
"We kind of took stock of things last night (Saturday) and this morning, and we talked about the players remaining on the board," Belichick said. "The one player who stood out for us was Kenyatta Jones, and we called San Diego to make a deal so we could trade up and take him."
Holloway joined Irish teammate Brock Williams, the cornerback taken in the third round.
Holloway started out his senior season strong, but a high ankle sprain slowed him down for much of the year, which hurt his stock. However, the fact that he stayed on the field won him points in New England.
"We were impressed with the toughness, grit and determination that he played with," Belichick said. "I think he is going to be a good, competitive guy at that spot."
The 6-2, 266-pound Holloway started 37 games for Notre Dame and had 41 catches in a conservative, run-oriented offense. With Holloway at tight end, the Irish converted 33-of-35 scoring opportunities in the red zone, an area New England has struggled in.
Love averaged 16.5 yards on 34 career receptions despite the lack of a quality quarterback and an option offense during his time with the Bulldogs.
Holloway and Love are both considered solid blockers who will figure in the competition with Jermaine Wiggins, Rod Rutledge and Chris Eitzmann at training camp. Belichick said Love is somewhat like Eitzmann because he is a smart, dependable player who played at a lower level at a non-passing school, putting him a bit behind on the learning curve.
"He hasn't had much background in the passing game, but Arthur was impressive in the Senior Bowl in terms of his ability to compete with players at a higher level of competition than what he was at in college," Belichick said.
A hard hitter with a tendency of being over-aggressive at times, Akbar recorded 225 tackles in 33 games for the Huskies.
New England wasn't done with the secondary there. Miami cornerback Leonard Myers was taken in the sixth round with the 200th overall pick. The 5-10, 185-pound Myers had an injury plagued career in college, but has good size and speed.
"We feel (Akbar and Myers) can do that."
The final two picks of the day were Brigham Young kicker Owen Pochman and Michigan State linebacker T.J. Turner. Pochman, a left-footed kicker, will compete with veteran Adam Vinatieri. Belichick said the Patriots did not select a kicker to deliver any kind of message to anyone, namely Vinatieri, but Pochman provided good value for the time at which he was available.
"Pochman is certainly a guy who has the ability to kick in this league. We have a very good kicker, and it will be competitive in camp," Belichick said. "Owen also works out pretty regularly with (punter) Lee Johnson out at BYU. From a mental standpoint for a kicker, which we all know is so important, we have a real comfort level there because we know the quality of kid that he is."
At 6-2 and 273 pounds, Turner is a huge player who come in as a middle linebacker who could possibly move to the defensive line.
In all, New England came away with 10 draft picks and a fifth-round pick from Jacksonville for the 2002 draft. The only positions not addressed at all were running back and wide receiver. The draft picks and rookie free agents who will be signed in the coming days report for rookie camp this Friday.