DRAFT AND PROTECT
T Nate Solder was selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draftwith the 17th pick. The New England Patriots have now selected four players in the top 20 during Bill Belichick's tenure with New England (2001: No. 6 DE Richard Seymour; 2003: No. 13 DL Ty Warren; 2008: No. 10 LB Jerod Mayo).
IN GOOD COMPANY
In the fifth round of this year's draft, the Patriots decided to beef up on the offensive line by taking a blocking tight end in TE Lee Smith from Marshall. Smith joins the Patriots fresh off the Thundering Herd roster as the first player selected by the Patriots from Marshall since Patriots great Troy Brown. Brown was selected by the Patriots in the eighth round (No. 198 overall) of the 1993 draft.
UNDERCLASSMEN AT THE TOP OF THEIR CLASS
New England drafted three underclassmen with consecutive selections, all on the second day of the 2011 NFL Draft, - RB Shane Vereen, RB Stevan Ridley and QB Ryan Mallet. All three early entry selections were captains on their 2010 squads. The only other NFL club to select as many as three underclassmen in the entire draft was the Tennessee Titans - LB Akeem Ayers, DT Casey Jurrell and RB Jamie Harper.
"O" WHAT A DRAFT
The Patriots took nine players in the 2011 NFL Draft. Six of the first seven players chosen by the club play offense - the lone exception being second-round choice, DB Ras-I Dowling. Among the selections were three linemen - T Nate Solder, OL Marcus Cannon and TE Lee Smith - and three offensive skill players - RB Shane Vereen, RB Stevan Ridley and QB Ryan Mallett. First-round choice Nate Solder was the first offensive player taken by New England in Round 1 since 2006 (RB Laurence Maroney).
A-HUNTING WE WILL GO
Four of the Patriots' 2011 draft picks - T Nate Solder, RB Stevan Ridley, QB Ryan Mallett and OL Marcus Cannon have all taken up hunting and/or fishing as hobbies away from the field.
The New England Patriots have now participated in 52 drafts, dating back to the club's inaugural year in 1960. Players have come from all corners of the country and from hundreds of different universities. However, 2011 was the first time that New England drafted a player from Texas Christian University - and the team took two: OL Marcus Cannon and DB Malcolm Williams. The Patriots also drafted a player out of Central Arkansas for the first time: LB Markell Carter. Compare that to first-round choice Nate Solder's school, Colorado, from which the Patriots have chosen 12 players in the past.
LET'S MAKE A DEAL
The New England Patriots made four draft-day trades during this year's draft, stockpiling two first and two second-round picks of the team's seven selections for next year's draft. The club has now participated in at least one draft-day trade seven straight years. 2004 was the only year during the Belichick era in which the team made no draft-day trades. Since 2000, New England has made 45 total draft-day trades, including seven each in 2009 and 2010.
The New England Patriots took RB Stevan Ridley and QB Ryan Mallett with the 73rd and 74th picks in this year's draft, marking the 13th time since the 1970 merger that New England had consecutive picks in the draft. 2011 was the third straight such occurrence and in the 1982 draft, the Patriots had back-to-back picks three times.
A LOOK AHEAD TO THE 2012 DRAFT
Four draft-day trades helped the Patriots slide into prime position once again for the 2012 NFL Draft. New England holds seven total selections, including five in the first three rounds.
PATRIOTS 2012 DRAFT SELECTIONS
Round | How Acquired
1 ... Assigned
1a ... Acquired from New Orleans for 2011 1st round pick (No. 28 overall - RB Mark Ingram)
2 ... Assigned
2a ... Acquired from Oakland for 2011 3rd round pick (No. 92 overall - T Joe Barksdale)
3 ... Assigned
4 ... Assigned
5 ... Assigned
6 ... Traded to Philadelphia for Tracy White and a 2010 7th round selection
7a ... Traded to Kansas City for S Jarad Page
7b ... Traded to Minnesota in the Randy Moss trade (pick originally obtained from Philadelphia through the trade for Tracy White in 2010).
2011 NFL DRAFT NOTES
*With the pick of T Nate Solder in the first round, the Patriots chose an offensive player with their first pick in the draft for the first time since 2006 (RB Laurence Maroney), breaking a streak of four-straight seasons that the Patriots picked a defensive player with their first pick in the draft. (2007 S Brandon Meriweather, 2008 LB Jerod Mayo, 2009 S Patrick Chung (second round pick) and 2010 CB Devin McCourty)
*It is the fourth time in team history that the Patriots have drafted an offensive tackle in the first round and the first time the team drafted an offensive tackle in the first round since drafting Pat Harlow from USC with the 11th pick in 1991.
*With the pick of T Nate Solder in the first round, the Patriots have now drafted an offensive player in the first round 30 times.
*Nate Solder is the third Patriots player to be drafted with the 17th pick (RB John Stephens in 1988 and CDamien Woody in 1999).
*Nate Solder is the 12th player that the Patriots have taken from Colorado and the first Colorado player drafted in the first round by the Patriots since drafting TE Daniel Graham with the 21st pick in the 2002 NFL draft.
*Nate Solder is the fifth offensive lineman from Colorado to be drafted by the Patriots: (G Bob Salerno in 1960, G Mike Montler (second round) in 1969, C Pete Brock (first round) in 1976 and G Heath Irwin (fourth round) in 1996.
*Bill Belichick has now drafted four players in the top 20 during his time with the Patriots (2001: No. 6 Richard Seymour; 2003: No. 13 Ty Warren; 2008: No. 10 Jerod Mayo and in 2011 T Nate Solder. Solder is the first offensive player that he has drafted in the top 20.
*2011 marks the third straight season that the Patriots had multiple picks in the second round. In 2009, the Patriots had four, drafting Patrick Chung, Ron Brace, Darius Butler and Sebastian Vollmer. In 2010, the Patriots had three, drafting Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes. In 2011, the Patriots took CB Ras-I Dowling and RB Shane Vereen.
*CB Ros-I Dowling is the first Patriots player to be drafted by the Patriots with the 33rd pick in the NFL Draft.
*Second round draft pick RB Shane Vereen's father Henry Vereen was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the ninth round of the 1979 NFL Draft out of UNLV.
*RB Shane Vereen is the third California player drafted by the Patriots since the 1970 merger. He joins LB Tully Banta-Cain (7th round in 2003, T Ryan O'Callaghan (5th round in 2006) and OL Steve Gordon (10th round in 1992).
*The Patriots acquired Houston's 2011 third-round pick (73rd overall) and 2011 fifth-round pick (138th overall) in exchange for the Patriots' 2011 second-round pick (60th overall) in a draft day trade. It is the second straight season that the Patriots have made a second round trade with Houston. In 2010, the Patriots acquired Houston's 2010 second-round pick (62nd overall used to draft LB Brandon Spikes) and 2010 fifth-round pick (150th overall used to draft P Zoltan Mesko).
*The Patriots had back-to-back picks in the third round, which they used to take RB Stevan Ridley from LSU with pick 73 and QB Ryan Mallett from Arkansas with pick 74.
*2011 marks the third straight season and the 13th time in team history since the 1970 merger that the Patriots had back-to-back picks. In 2009, the Patriots selected with the 40th and 41st overall picks, drafting DL Ron Brace (No. 40) and DB Darius Butler (No. 41). In 2010, the Patriots took DE Brandon Deaderick with the 247th overall pick and DE Kade Weston with the 248th overall in the seventh-round. In the 1982 draft, the Patriots had back-to-back picks three times.
*Fifth-round draft pick OL Marcus Cannon is the first Texas Christian University player ever drafted by the Patriots.
*Bill Belichick has now drafted 11 tight ends since 2001 following the selection of TE Lee Smith from Marshall with the 159th pick.
*TE Lee Smith is the second player ever drafted by the Patriots from Marshall. Troy Brown was drafted by the Patriots in the eighth-round of the 1993 NFL Draft out of Marshall with the 198th pick overall.
*Lee Smith's father, Daryle, was a tackle at University of Tennessee before signing with Dallas as a rookie free agent. He played with the Dallas (1987-88), Cleveland (1989) and Philadelphia (1990-92).
*The Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles made their fourth overall trade since the 2000 season and their second ever draft day trade when the Patriots traded their 193rd pick in the sixth round in exchange for Philadelphia's 194th pick in the sixth round (LB Markell Carter).
Trade 1 - In 2009, the Patriots acquired WR Greg Lewis and a 2010 seventh-round pick for a 2009 fifth-round pick.
Trade 2 - On draft day in 2009, the Patriots traded Ellis Hobbs to Philadelphia for two fifth-round picks.
Trade 3 - In 2010, the Patriots acquired Tracy White and a seventh-round pick in 2012 for a sixth-round pick in 2012.
*After seven draft day trades in 2009 and 2010, the Patriots made just four draft day trades in 2011.