Trey Flowers chases down an opposing quarterback. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Trey Flowers chases down an opposing quarterback. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The more you can do, the more you can do for us.

When it comes to player acquisition, it’s one of the fundamental principles of the Patriots organization, and that philosophy was on full display over the weekend at Gillette Stadium, as the franchise went out and appeared to specifically go after guys who could end up filling multiple roles on the field.

Almost all of the players who were picked up by New England — particularly those who were scooped up over Day 3 of the draft on Saturday — have a skill set that would seem to lend itself to more than one position.

On offense, sixth-round pick A.J. Derby (Arkansas) has experience as a tight end and quarterback, while Georgia Tech offensive lineman Shaq Mason (taken in the fourth round) has played both guard spots, and practiced and played center while at the Senior Bowl.

On the other side of the ball, defensive end/outside linebacker Trey Flowers (a fourth-rounder out of Arkansas) can connect on multiple levels as a pass rusher and as someone who has an ability to drop into coverage — likewise third-round tweener hybrid Geneo Grissom (who also worked out at tight end for a stretch at his pro day at Oklahoma). And safety Jordan Richards, a second-rounder out of Stanford, was advertised as a defensive back who could do multiple things.

“I’ll play any position on the field — I’ll play punter if I have to,” said Grissom when asked by reporters where he might prefer to play. “I’ve kind of been through the ringer at OU, played multiple positions, d-end, tight end, and linebacker. It’s just one of those things that I’ve been blessed with a very athletic body and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help my team win.”

“There were calling me a tweener, linebacker, edge rusher, defensive end,” Flowers said of the labels that were slapped on him throughout the pre-draft process. “I’m just glad that I can show that versatility and just be open to any type of scheme whether it’s 4-3, 3-4, whether it’s standing up or hand in the dirt, I’m open to anything. I’m just glad I put that out on tape.”

Admittedly, some of this is true with every rookie across the league, and we’re just looking at things through a New England prism. But while Patriots coach Bill Belichick ultimately has some sort of clear-cut vision in mind for these players right now, right now, these are players will show up in Foxboro this week without a strictly defined position. How they do with the opportunities they’ve been given will ultimately determine the level of their involvement and where they’ll be deployed on the football field.

“I think the players that we take we have an idea of what we think they’ll do for our team. Each guy has a specific, “Here’s what we think he’ll do. Now, what he actually does or not, we can’t forecast that with 100 percent accuracy. But I’d say that’s the way it is with everybody.

“Draft anybody you want, but until you actually get them into your system and start working with them and see how their skills transfer to what you’re doing, I don’t think you really know until you actually start doing it,” he added. “Look, there’s a lot to be said for being able to do something really well. I’m not against that in any way. Maybe some of the guys that have done several things do one thing great and that’s what their role is. That’s great too, but we’ll see.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — The Patriots will sign former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner as an underrated free agent and convert him to wide receiver, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cal WR Chris Harper will apparently be joining the Patriots. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Cal WR Chris Harper will apparently be joining the Patriots. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — According to the Twitter account of former Cal receiver Christopher Harper, he’s joined the Patriots.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Harper played in 35 games over the course of his career with the Golden Bears and ranks seventh all-time in school history with 163 receptions for 2,030 yards receiving. In addition, his 13 touchdown catches is good for 10th in school history. Harper, who entered the draft as an underclassman, started 23 of the 35 games in which he played, and caught at least one pass in 29 straight contests.

According to reports, he was the fourth undrafted player added by New England on Saturday. He joins a group that includes quarterback turned receiver Devin Gardner (Michigan), offensive lineman David Andrews (Georgia) and cornerback Johnny Jean (UAB).

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Tight end A.J. Derby was taken in the sixth round by the Patriots. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Tight end A.J. Derby was taken in the sixth round by the Patriots. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has been a head coach for 20 years — his first year came in 1991 when he was in charge of the Browns — and has established connections with so many players over the years, it was bound to happen.

While Belichick has coached several second-generation NFL talents over the years — including Matthew Slater and Andre Carter (both of whom were sons of former professional football players), Belichick now has an opportunity to coach the son of someone who once played for him, albeit briefly.

The Patriots coach smiled on Saturday when he was asked about the fact that he coached John Derby briefly when he was with the Browns in the early 1990s. And now, following the selection of Arkansas tight end A.J. Derby, he’ll have the chance to coach his son.

“That shows you how old I am,” Belichick said with a laugh when asked about the father, a linebacker who also played for the Lions. “That’s a sad commentary.

“Yeah, we talked about that when (A.J.) came in (for his pre-draft visit).”

Belichick wouldn’t get into what sort of player the father was, only to say that “he wasn’t (with the Browns) for a long time.” But he was more than willing to expand on the exploits of the son.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder had an interesting journey to the NFL, having started at Iowa before transferring to Coffeyville Community College, and eventually landing with the Razorbacks. After a brief stint at quarterback — as a junior signal-caller, he went 19-for-36 for 178 yards and a touchdown in seven games with Arkansas — he made the move to tight end as a senior and had 303 yards receiving on 22 catches and three touchdowns, including a career-long 54-yard touchdown reception.

“(He’s) is a guy that’s really only played the position — tight end — for a year,” said Belichick of Derby, who was taken in the sixth round (202nd overall) in Saturday’s draft. “(He) was at Iowa, transferred, went to junior college, had a very productive year at quarterback there, whatever it was, 3,000 yards passing or something like that, went to Arkansas to compete at quarterback and was a one-year player at tight end, so 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.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — The Patriots have an agreement with defensive back Jimmy Jean as an undrafted free agent, according to multiple reports.

The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder out of UAB played corner in college, but might end up making the switch to safety in the pros. He started all 12 games for the Blazers last year and ended the season with 42 tackles (32 solo), as well as one pick, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. He was an named honorable mention All Conference USA.

Jean is the third undrafted free agent that has reportedly agreed to a deal with the Patriots. He joined quarterback Devin Gardner of Michigan and center David Andrews at Georgia.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — The Patriots will sign former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner as an underrated free agent and convert him to wide receiver, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The 6-foot-4, 216-pounder has been Michigan’s No. 1 quarterback the last few years, and posted a 61 percent completion rate, 6,336 passing yards, with 44 touchdowns and 32 picks over the course of his career with the Wolverines. But it sounds like the Patriots will try and push Gardner down the same road they went with Julian Edelman, who moved from college quarterback to receiver when he joined New England and great success as a result.

For what it’s worth, Gardner does have some receiving background — he had 18 catches for 286 yards and four touchdowns as a collegian.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — Shortly after the draft wrapped up Saturday night, Georgia offensive lineman David Andrews tweeted that he had joined the Patriots.

The 6-foot-2, 294-pounder was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs, and was an AP second-team All-SEC selection last season. The 22-year-old started in all 13 games for Georgia last season, and played in 50 games in his collegiate career.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Matthew Wells (22) makes a play this past season. (Getty Images)

Matthew Wells (22) makes a play this past season. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Matthew Wells is legally blind in his right eye.

He has just 20 percent vision in the eye but that didn’t keep him from impressing with his speed and determination at Mississippi State.

“I am, by number. I can see, just not the reading, but it’€™s just the legal number for it,” Wells said. “I can see out of it. It’€™s been like that since I’€™ve been smaller, so it’€™s all I really know.”

Wells said his ability to read plays on the field is not impacted by his handicap. And apparently, the Patriots agree. On Saturday, the Patriots made the safety/linebacker/special teamer their first pick in the sixth round (178th overall).

“It was a great feeling,” Wells said in a conference call Saturday. “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.”

As is the case with fast players (and Wells ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at his Mississippi State pro day), he is a prime candidate for special teams, possibly a gunner. He tallied 165 tackles in his four-year career with the Bulldogs with six sacks, one interception, 14 passes defended and three forced fumbles.

“A big strength for me would probably be length and speed, most of all,” Wells said. “We had to start out on special teams before we could even have a regular position. That’€™s a big thing as you transition from high school to college and then it would also be from college to the NFL. So, I’€™ve played pretty much every special teams and if I have to again I will.”

Does he have an idea of where the Patriots will be using him?

“I don’€™t really know. Whatever they want me to play, that’€™s the position I’€™ll play,” Wells added. “I don’€™t really know. Whatever position they have for me, that’€™s what I’€™m willing to do.”

Wells would even consider running back if it were suggested, given his small size at 6-foot-2, 222 pounds.

“Like I said, it doesn’€™t matter. Whatever position they think I’€™m best at and want to try me at, that’€™s what I’€™m willing to play,” Wells said.

Here’s more from Matthew Wells’ conference call Saturday at Gillette Stadium:

Q: What was it like playing for Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen?

MW: It was a great experience. He pretty much came in and changed the program, which I was coming in a year after he came in. It was a big change that he brought to the program. Like I said, he put us in a lot of positions to succeed. He also taught us how to be a great man along with being a great football player.

Q: How close are you with Deontae Skinner?

MW: We are pretty close. We played the same position for a couple years when he was there at [Mississippi] State. We are pretty close.

Q: Has he reached out to you at all since being drafted?

MW: Yeah, he reached out to me and told me congratulations and all that. We didn’€™t have too much time to say anything after, but he reached out to tell me congratulations.

Q: How would you describe your role in comparison to Benardrick McKinney in the Mississippi State defense?

MW: He’€™s an athletic guy, long. He’€™s a big guy, so he played middle linebacker. My position for that role, coach Mullen put me in the best position that he thought I could play. My role was to pretty much do everything basically that maximized my ability in my role on that Mississippi State team, covering receivers or even playing linebacker or whatever.

Q: Any connections to Boston or New England?

MW: None at all, no.

Q: Have you been here before?

MW: I have.

Q: What brought you to Boston?

MW: I went on a pre-draft visit.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Here’s a full list of the players the Patriots selected in the 2015 NFL draft:

1st round — 32nd overallDL Malcom Brown, Texas
2nd round — 64th overallS Jordan Richards, Stanford
3rd round — 97th overallDE/OLB Geneo Grissom, Oklahoma
4th round — 101st overallDE Trey Flowers, Arkansas
4th round — 111th overallOL Tre Jackson, Florida State
4th round — 131st overallOL Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech
5th round — 166th overallLS Joe Cardona, Navy
6th round — 178th overallLB Matt Wells, Mississippi State
6th round — 202nd overallTE A.J. Derby, Arkansas
7th round — 247th overallCB Darryl Roberts, Marshall
7th round — 253rd overallOLB Xzavier Dickson, Alabama

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — Three incredibly early thoughts on the Patriots selection of Alabama outside linebacker Xzavier Dickson in the seventh round (253rd overall) of Saturday’s NFL draft.

1) The 6-foot-3, 268-pounder from Georgia, he made his bones as a pass rusher with the Tide over the last couple of years — last season, he recorded 42 tackles, and led the Tide in both tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (nine).

2) While he’s logged impressive numbers as a pass rusher, he’s struggled against the run. At the NFL level, he appears to be a situational player, at least at this stage of his career. He figures to be yet another tweener for the Patriots to consider as an edge rusher in 2015, joining a group of veterans that include veterans like Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard and rookie Trey Flowers.

3) Dickson was suspended for Alabama’s Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma in 2014 for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price