The Associated Press|
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Josh Boyce is one lucky wide receiver.
As if playing with Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in high school and the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton in college wasn't enough, Boyce will be on the receiving end of passes from Tom Brady after the New England Patriots selected the TCU receiver with the fifth pick in the fourth round Saturday.
``All three of them are great guys, great quarterbacks,'' Boyce said. ``I've been blessed to play with great quarterbacks my whole career.''
The Patriots acquired the 102nd overall pick to take Boyce in a trade Thursday with Minnesota, shipping their first-rounder - the 29th overall selection - to the Vikings for their second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round choices.
Boyce was the second receiver the Patriots took in their first five picks after grabbing Marshall's Aaron Dobson with the 59th selection Friday.
``Josh had a good career at TCU,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ``Real top kid, strong, tough, fast, has had good production down there.''
That wasn't the only splash the Patriots made on the final day of the draft, though.
New England dealt one of its three seventh-round picks, the 229th overall, to Tampa Bay for running back LeGarrette Blount.
Blount is coming off a disappointing season for the Buccaneers, rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries. He eventually was supplanted by rookie Doug Martin, who racked up 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns.
At 6 feet and 247 pounds, Blount burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2010, rumbling for 1,007 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
``Excited to have him here. I think he's a good football player,'' Belichick said. ``He's had a of production.''
The Patriots used their seventh-round selections on defensive end/linebacker Michael Buchanan (226th overall) from Illinois and Rutgers linebacker Steve Beauharnais (235th), the third Scarlet Knights player taken by New England this year. Buchanan had 57 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks last season for the Illini, while Beauharnais had 83 tackles and one interception for the Scarlet Knights.
On Friday, New England chose Southern Mississippi linebacker Jamie Collins with the 52nd pick, Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan with the 83rd and Rutgers safety Duron Harmon with the 91st.
Clearly, New England's pre-draft blueprint included acquiring more targets for Brady.
The Patriots this offseason added veterans Danny Amendola, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins at wide receiver to help two-time league MVP Brady, who lost his top two pass catchers when free agent Wes Welker signed with the Denver Broncos and Brandon Lloyd was released.
Belichick has a spotty history when it comes to drafting receivers. Of the four wide receivers the Patriots have drafted in the past seven years, only 2012 seventh-rounder Jeremy Ebert remains. Their complex offense is difficult to master, as some have found out the hard way. Chad Johnson, then known as Chad Ochocinco, struggled learning it in 2011 when he had 15 catches in his only season with the team.
Even Belichick acknowledged how difficult it can be to learn New England's playbook.
``I'd say a lot of the players that come here feel challenged at that position,'' he said. ``We've had an offense that's been in place for 13, 14 years now. It's evolves a little bit every year, it maybe gets modified a little bit, but it's grown. It certainly has a lot more breadth to it than it did in 2000, 2001, 2002.
``So that means a new guy coming in has to learn, to a degree, 12 to 13 years' worth of stuff instead of a guy coming in learning a new system from scratch, with a new coach, that type of thing. It probably is a lot.'' Boyce doesn't seem concerned.
Despite running the 40 in 4.38 seconds at the NFL combine in February - doing so with a broken toe that has since been surgically repaired - Boyce didn't cite speed as his top strength.
``I'm really smart, so I can pick up things pretty quick,'' he said. ``I see a lot of things before they happen. So, I think my mind is working for me a lot of times.''
His hands, however, did most of the work early in his career.
Boyce played with Griffin III at Copperas Cove High School (Texas) and then spent his freshman season at TCU hauling in passes from Dalton.
New England is just another stop on his star-studded football tour.
``I'm excited just to be a part of an NFL team,'' he said, ``but it's great talking about a great quarterback like Tom Brady. I'm excited, but it hasn't really sunk in yet.''
Boyce, who visited the Patriots but did not work out for them, earned All-Big 12 honorable mention accolades last season after leading the Horned Frogs in every receiving category. He set a single-season school record with 66 catches, totaling 891 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished his three-year career with 22 touchdowns and 2,535 career receiving yards, the second-most in TCU history.