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Patriots add depth on Day 3 of the draft

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Florida TE Aaron Hernandez.

A relatively quiet day, trade-wise, for New England on the final day of the 2010 NFL Draft, but the team still made seven selections.

After a short turnaround from the night before had the Patriots resuming with the final four rounds at 10 a.m. With their fourth-round pick (113 overall), New England chose tight end Aaron Hernandez(6-3, 250), last year's Mackey Award winner and the third Florida player taken by New England in this draft.

Hernandez is a Connecticut native who grew up rooting for Drew Bledsoe.

"My goal was to play for the Patriots. It's just a dream come true and I still can't believe it's real," he told reporters via conference call.

He also had a Patriots connection at Florida, of course, with the relationship between head coaches Urban Meyerand Bill Belichick, who often visits the Florida campus to watch Gator practices.

"I've known Belichick for a while now," added Hernandez, "so I felt comfortable around him when I went there to see him at the Combine."

In the fifth round, Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko(6-5, 230) was the choice. A Wolverine captain – the first special teams player in school history to earn that honor – Mesko was the consensus top-ranked punter in this draft class. Like Hernandez, he also is a self-proclaimed fan of the Patriots and quarterback Tom Bradyin particular, given the latter's Ann Arbor connection.

"Wow, I get to be a Patriot. My favorite team, I've been watching Tom Brady ever since I committed to Michigan, so it is an honor and I am so, so proud to represent the organization.

"Tom Brady, from a fan's perspective, is my favorite player in the whole NFL, just because he has that Michigan tie and he's done such a great job overcoming being drafted in the sixth round. It's crazy how much he's done and how many people he's proved wrong. That's my philosophy in life – I get motivated more about the negative things that are said about me. I like to prove myself that way. I'd love to model myself after Tom Brady, so maybe getting to know him a little more will help that mindset."

A reporter then jokingly pointed out that Mesko was drafted one round higher than Brady.

"I was just thinking that, but I didn't want to mention it," he responded with a laugh.

With their lone sixth-round selection (a compensatory pick, 205 overall), the Patriots took Ted Larsen(6-2, 304) an offensive lineman from North Carolina State. Then the team faced the prospect of five picks in the seventh round, three of which were compensatory, and therefore, not subject to trade. So, they packaged their top two picks in the round, 229 and 231, to move up to Redskins' spot at 208. With that pick, they took another o-lineman, tackle Thomas Welch(6-6, 307) of Vanderbilt.

The seventh round action for New England concluded with back-to-back compensatory picks (247 and 248 overall). With those, the Patriots selected a pair of defensive linemen: Brandon Deaderick(6-4, 296) from Alabama, and Kade Weston(6-5, 317). One pick later, at 250, the Patriots picked Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson(6-3, 218).

In total, New England chose a dozen players in the 2010 draft, equal to the number they picked in last year's draft. The team also welcomed its first-round pick, CB Devin McCourty, with the traditional jersey presentation on a glorious spring day here in Foxborough. The rest of the 2010 draft class will be at Gillette Stadium by next Friday, when the Patriots conduct their two-day rookie mini-camp.

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