The Patriots’ 2015 NFL Draft class has 11 members: seven on defense, three on offense and one special teamer.
They selected four from the Southeastern Conference, two from the Atlantic Coast Conference, two from the Big 12, one from the Pac 12, one from Conference USA, and one from the Naval Academy.
Six have earned their undergraduate degrees. Four have children. One is married. One is engaged.
They’ll all be descending on Foxoborough to join the Patriot ranks and fight for roster spots.
“They’ll get a big dose of New England Patriots football over the next whatever we’ve got, six weeks — however long it is,” coach Bill Belichick said Saturday. “We’ll give them everything we can in heavy doses, try to get them ready for training camp and they’ll get even more then. The strong will survive. The other ones will fall off.”
Here’s a look at the class:
Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Stats at Texas
Background: Married nearly a year to wife, Faith, and they have two daughters: 4-year-old Rayna and 9-month-old Mayah. He still likes watching cartoons — he watched “Dragon Ball Z” as a kid — and does the same with his daughters now. Brown doesn’t watch football in his free time. Not only does he have a family to help take care of, he said he gets bored if he watches too much film.
He said it: “I’m just relentless. I want to be the best I can be, so I’m going to do that when I get there. You’ll get my all out of me.”
Belichick: “He can run, plays on his feet, he’s got good quickness. For anybody to make that transition [to the NFL] it takes a lot of things. Hopefully, he’s got all the components that are necessary, or at least a lot of them.”
Joe Cardona, long snapper, Navy
Stat line: Cardona was a four-year starter for the Midshipmen.
Background: Cardona has a five-year active military commitment to fulfill as a naval officer. Though exceptions can be made, the El Cajon, Calif., native doesn’t know when word will come down about his immediate future. He graduates from the Naval Academy this month with an economics degree.
He said it: “I was taught [long snapping] by my dad growing up in Pee Wee football and all that. He always had me doing it along with playing other positions. ... The joke is that he didn’t think I’d see the field in high school because I was a skinny seventh and eighth grader, so we focused on it.”
Belichick: “He’s a good player. [We] felt like he was the best long snapper in the draft. So, we have his rights. Whenever he plays hopefully he’ll be able to contribute and play well. Whenever that is, we’ll see.”
AJ Derby, tight end, Arkansas
Stat line: The quarterback-turned-tight end missed the final two games last season with a knee injury, but caught 22 passes for 303 yards and three scores in 11 games.
Background: The Iowa City, Iowa, native is engaged to former Arkansas point guard, Calli Berna. He began his college football career as a quarterback at Iowa, but after an arrest, coach Kirk Ferentz put him at linebacker. He eventually transferred to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College before landing at Arkansas. He served as a backup quarterback until Bret Bielema and his coaching staff moved him to tight end last year. He graduated in December 2014 with an economics degree.
He said it: “I love the game of football and I learned from a quarterback’s perspective. I know what everyone is doing. I try to know what the quarterback is thinking. That’s the way I’m going to approach learning the offense, through the quarterback’s eyes.”
Belichick: “I think he’s got a lot of good football ahead of him. He’s transitioning from kind of the linebacker-quarterback high school deal to quarterback to tight end. I think he’s a tight end. He thinks he’s a tight end.”
Xzavier Dickson, DE/OLB, Alabama
Stats at Alabama
Background: Dickson has a 2-year-old son, Aydin, and frequently shared father-son moments on Instagram. Dickson, from Griffin, Ga., was suspended for Alabama’s Sugar Bowl game against Oklahoma two years ago. “I felt like I let them down and I was being selfish at the time. When I got back, I just gave it my all.” He came back to lead Alabama’s front seven last year, splitting time between defensive end and outside linebacker.
He said it: “I think it helps me a lot, especially with the competition I played with [at Alabama]. I feel like it’s prepared me well for the NFL.”
Belichick: “He’s played a lot of outsider linebacker [and] defensive end, and in the kicking game. Obviously been in a good program, been well coached. He’s played against a lot of good people and he’s done well at Alabama.”
Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas
Stats at Arkansas
Background: Flowers has a 2-year-old daugher, Skyler. He is one of 10 siblings, and grew up working for his father’s construction company in Huntsville, Ala. One brother, Rod, played basketball at Cincinnati and Tennessee State. Another brother, Jamal, played offensive line at Tennessee State. Flowers, whose full name is Robert “Trey” Flowers III, wanted to play for either Auburn or Alabama, but didn’t get an offer. He committed to Georgia Tech before Arkansas offered him late. He jumped at the chance because he wanted to play in the Southeastern Conference. Flowers thought about entering the 2014 NFL Draft, but didn’t want to leave Arkansas with a “bad taste” in his mouth after the Razorbacks went 3-9 in 2013. “My senior year, just be coming back and because I knew the type of guy Coach [Bret] Bielema was and that he came from a winning program, so I knew he knew how to win,” he told ESPN Radio 99.5. “Me coming back knowing that he’s going to turn this program around, I just wanted to be a part of that and help.” The Razorbacks finished last season at 7-6 and thumped Texas, 31-7, in the Texas Bowl. He graduated in December with a degree in economics.
He said it: “I actually grew up and fell in love with the game watching ‘[The] Waterboy’ so I’ve got that visualizing the check mentality. He just taught me to go crazy out there so I just take myself to a place and just attack as you say.”
Belichick: “Real productive player at Arkansas, played mainly on the edge, a little bit inside, but a young player that has a lot of good football in front of him, a lot of great qualities in terms of leadership, toughness, those kind of things.”
Geneo Grissom, DE, Oklahoma
Stats at Oklahoma
Background: Grissom played the drums growing up, taking a sheet from his father’s music stand – Eugene Grissom played bass in a funk band. Grissom’s name is a derivative of his father’s first name. Eugene was given the nickname Geneo and passed it on to his son. “I guess hypothetically I’m a junior,” he said. Grissom loves hockey, called the Bruins “awesome” and Zdeno Chara a “beast.” The Hutchinson, Kan., native had to redshirt as a true freshman in 2010 due to a stress fracture in his foot. He missed spring practice in 2012 with a stress fracture in his other foot. He spent time on the offensive side of the ball for the Sooners, playing some tight end. He sprained the MCL in his right knee last fall, missing the final three games of the season. He graduated in December with a degree in African-American studies.
He said it: “I get a phone call and I saw that it was from Foxborough. I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to cry, I wasn’t going to cry, and I ended up crying like a baby.”
Belichick: “[He’s a] pretty athletic, versatile guy in Oklahoma’s defense over the last couple of years.”
Tre’ Jackson, OG, Florida State
Stat line: Jackson played in 49 games for the Seminoles, mostly at right guard, and started 42.
Background: The Jesup, Ga., native started many of his games in a Seminoles uniform alongside center Bryan Stork, whom the Patriots drafted last year and ended up starting 11 games (including playoffs). He was voted the unanimous MVP of the South Team at the Senior Bowl, earned All-ACC and All-America honors as a senior. He reportedly had knee problems, which could be why he slipped to the fourth round, though he didn’t miss a game at Florida State.
He said it: “Just being able to see your brothers [former Florida State teammates] that you’ve been in the struggle with for the last couple of years finally be able to say that they’ve reached one of their life-long dreams.”
Belichick: “Of course Tre’ [Jackson] played in a pro-type offense with [Jameis] Winston, the quarterbacking and all the things he did at Florida State.”
Shaquille Mason, OG, Georgia Tech
Stat line: Mason started all 14 games at right guard for the Yellow Jackets last season as a senior and all 13 games in 2013.
Background: Mason, whose full name is Shaquille Olajuwon Mason, has a 7-month-old daughter, Kamrie Maleah, who was born last Aug. 7. His girlfriend, Sabrina Gonzalez, is on the soccer team at Martin Methodist College; the two have been together since high school. The Columbia, Tenn., native calls his mother, Alicia McGuire, his backbone. He was voted a team captain for the 2014 Yellow Jackets, and interned at Barton Executive Search in Atlanta with three teammates in the fall. Though he started the final 27 games of his collegiate career at right guard, where he also made the line calls for the triple-option offense, had been learning center during predraft workouts and at the Senior Bowl.
He said it: “I was born in 1993, so that was around [Shaquille O’Neal]’s prime. My mom was a huge Shaq fan, and she also liked Hakeem Olajuwon. She just gave me the first and middle names of them.”
Belichick: “And this guy is a football player and from a run blocking standpoint, I’d say he’s probably ahead of every other player in the draft.”
Jordan Richards, S, Stanford
Stats at Stanford
Background: Though he grew up in Folsom, Calif., Richards’s father, Terrence, is from Natick and played football at Tufts from 1975-79. Stanford coach David Shaw said Richards is not a “speech giver. Jordan is a communicator.” Stanford teammates called him Coach Richards because of his on-field instruction. He worked last summer for the Tri-District Summer Math Institute as a teaching assistant in Redwood City. He was named one of 17 National Football Foundation Scholar Athletes, which comes with an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. He has spent this winter and spring juggling predraft workouts and a full class load to try to graduate this spring with a degree in public policy with an emphasis in education policy. After football, he wants to earn his master’s degree in education and get into the field as a teacher or administrator or on the policy side.
He said it: “Being a California kid, I can’t say I’m a Patriots fan or I was growing up, but shoot, I can change now.”
Belichick: “Everybody you talk to, they rave about it; about his communication, his leadership, his football character on and off the field. I don’t think there’s going to be issues with that.”
Darryl Roberts, CB, Marshall
Stats at Marshall
Background: Roberts played at Lakeland (Fla.) High School, and was a freshman when linemen Mike and Maurkice Pouncey were seniors. He is nicknamed “Swagg.” During a practice in 2013, his left index finger suffered an “open dislocation.” “The bone broke through the skin on the top of my finger and, then, popped back into place,” he told The Herald-Dispatch. Roberts started and played against Southern Miss two days later. During a team workout last summer, Roberts benched 225 pounds (the Combine weight) 22 times. He redshirted the 2012 season while rehabbing a broken right ankle. He earned his degree in sports management last August.
He said it: “First things first, I just want to make a name for myself on special teams.”
Belichick: “[He’s] a guy that has good size, fast, played primarily on the perimeter down there. Good player though, very good role on the team in terms of leadership and so forth.”
Matthew Wells, linebacker, Mississippi State
Stats Mississippi State
Background: The Monticello, Miss., native is one of four brothers. His middle school basketball coach, Ricky Sykes, talked him into starting football in seventh grade. He was a four-star running back out of Lawrence County High School, but was quickly converted to defense at Mississippi State — first safety and then linebacker — after redshirting his true freshman year in 2010. He completed an internship last fall with the university’s Child Development and Family Studies Center on campus. He said he is legally blind in his left eye (has been since he was a child), but it doesn’t affect him on the field. He graduated in December with a degree in human sciences. After football, he wants to coach and teach at the high school level.
He said it: “I was just sitting down having a bite to eat and I was just watching the draft and they called my name. I saw the Patriots pick and I was just overjoyed by the pick.”
Belichick: “[He’s] somewhere between a linebacker and a safety, but runs very well. [He was a] productive player for them on defense and the kicking game.”
Follow Rachel G. Bowers on Twitter @RachelGBowers.