No risk, no reward.
At least that’s the philosophy New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick employed when selecting Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley with the 29th pick of the first round in last night’s NFL Draft.
According to sources, Easley might have been considered a prospect in the range of Houston Texans’ top pick Jadeveon Clowney, had it not been for an ACL surgery on each of his knees.
He played only three games with the Gators this past fall and quite honestly was not able to work out for teams.
“I didn’t pay attention to all of that (talk that he’d be a third or fourth round pick),” said Easley. “I was just waiting for my dream to come true. I’m surprised and really excited. “
Easley was an extremely productive athlete at Florida when he was able to stay on the field with 5.5 career sacks in 38 games, but his knee issues are the first and most important question to selection.
“I’m healthy,” he proclaimed. “I just want to get up there and do whatever coach Belichick needs me to.”
Easley is 6-foot-1, 288 pounds and projects to play inside as a run-stuffing, havoc-wreaking defensive lineman.
“He’s a very disruptive player,” said Belichick. “He showed up well against good competition. He’s an explosive player. There’s not much to not like about him. We felt like he was the best player (on the board at the time of the pick.)”
One gamble Belichick isn’t making is on the conference and its penchant to produce big time defensive linemen. The SEC is notorious for its athletes in the front four.
Easley, a Staten Island, N.Y., native clearly fits that mold. Then there’s the Urban Meyer factor. A Belichick crony, he recruited Easley to Gainesville back in 2009.